The NoSQL community threw out the baby with the bath water

The NoSQL community threw out the baby with the bath water

Summary: Splice Machine's Monte Zweben secured $4 million in funding to develop the Splice SQL Engine™ for big-data applications.

TOPICS: Big Data

The NoSQL movement has provided a whole new way of thinking about database architecture. NoSQL is understood to stand for "not just SQL," though most think of it as "not SQL." The reality is that a relational database model may not be the best solution for all situations. The easiest way to think of NoSQL is that it's a database that does not adhere to the traditional relational database management system (RDMS) structure.

The workload is able to easily grow by distributing itself over lots of ordinary, and cheap, Intel-based servers. A NoSQL database is exactly the type of database that can handle the sort of unstructured, messy, and unpredictable data that big-data applications require.

Why NoSQL? NoSQL combines high performance with high availability and offers a rich query language with easy scalability. NoSQL is gaining momentum, and is supported by Hadoop, MongoDB, and others.

San Francisco-based Splice Machine hopes to turn the NoSQL equation on its head.

Splice Machine provides the first SQL-compliant database designed for big-data applications. The Splice SQL Engine™ intends to provide all of what have come to be known as the standard benefits of NoSQL databases--benefits such as auto-sharding, scalability, fault tolerance, and high availability--while retaining the strengths of the industry standard SQL.


According to a recent press release, it optimizes complex queries to power real-time big-data applications and enable interactive analytics without rewriting existing SQL-based applications and front-end business intelligence tools such as MicroStrategy and Tableau.

When I spoke with founder, Monte Zweben--you may remember him, as I did, from his company Blue Martini--we discussed the explosion of data being generated by users, applications, sites, and more. And how the sheer volume and velocity of data has overwhelmed traditional Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS).

The response for many organizations is to turn to big data or NoSQL solutions that are highly scalable on commodity hardware. These solutions are some of the same that I wrote about late last year, namely: Hadoop, MongoDB, etc. However, these databases come at a big cost; according to Zweben, they have very limited SQL support, and often cause organizations to rewrite their existing applications or business intelligence reports.

"The NoSQL community threw out the baby with the bath water. They got it right with flexible schemas and distributed, auto-sharded architectures, but it was a mistake to discard SQL," said Zweben. "The Splice SQL Engine enables companies to get the cost-effective scalability, flexibility, and availability their big-data, mobile, and web applications require, while capitalizing on the prevalence of the proven SQL tools and experts that are ubiquitous in the industry."

Built on the proven Hadoop stack, the Splice SQL Engine enables application developers to build hyper-personalized web, mobile, and social applications that truly scale while leveraging the ubiquity of SQL tools and skill sets in the marketplace, according to Zweben. The Splice SQL Engine also scales to handle business intelligence and analysis, and works turnkey with tools like MicroStrategy and Tableau.

Let me know what you think. But also, stay classy, San Diego.

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Topic: Big Data

Gery Menegaz

About Gery Menegaz

Gery Menegaz is a Chief Architect for IBM with more than 20 years supporting technologies in the financial, medical, pharmaceutical, insurance, legal and education sectors. My Full-Time Employer is IBM. I write as a freelancer for ZDNet.

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  • Huh?

    What do babies and bathwater have to do with databases and SQL? Surely you can come up with a more apt (rather than an ancient figure of speech) way of saying someone or something went a bit overboard or too far or whatever...........

    Do you know the actual history of the phrase throwing out the baby with the bathwater? It goes way back in time when bathing wasn't a common occurence.
    • Re: Huh?

      He is actually paraphrasing Monte Zweben.
    • Babies and bathwater quote from Zweben

      That was the quote. Thanks for your comment.
  • There is a lot of skill out there in SQL

    And it wasn't just the tools that got tossed, but some of the experience and knowledge too. A query language is just a tool in the tool kit. Big data + SQL is not a step back.
  • SQL still

    SQL can still rule. This simple query language can handle anything. What we do need is new engines that can index relational and non-relational databases, spreadsheets, and data files, documents of all sorts that are local and remote and on any Platform. These platforms could evolve, get online or offline, change their model and structure without causing errors on this new engine. This new type of engine could be programmed to understand how to implement these changes. The Idea is to build an interpretation of the available data based on potential objects types and behaviors. This way, data would not mean the same for all applications.

    There is nothing wrong with SQL. All there is wrong is that there is no way to connect to various evolving data infrastructure that are non-centralised.
  • SQL Is An Unwieldy Language

    SQL does not treat tables and query results as first-class objects. Look at relational algebra for a full mathematical treatment of relational databases, which can express things that are either unwieldy or just plain impossible in SQL.

    NoSQL does mean getting rid of SQL, but it need not mean getting rid of relational databases, just coming up with a more modern query language for them.