To SQL or to NoSQL: the database dilemma

Peter Van Hardenberg Heroku Postgres Dave Rubin Oracle Cliff Moon Boundary Barry Morris NUODB Structure 2012
Peter Van Hardenberg Heroku Postgres Dave Rubin Oracle Cliff Moon Boundary Barry Morris NUODB Structure 2012

(L to R) Peter van Hardenberg – Co-Founder, Heroku Postgres, Heroku; Dave Rubin – Director of NoSQL Database Development, Oracle; Cliff Moon – CTO, Boundary; Barry Morris – CEO, NUODB<br />(c) 2012 Pinar Ozger<br />

Everybody likes a good technology debate: Mac vs. PC, Android vs. iOS, Larry Ellison vs. the world. On Thursday panelists at GigaOM Structure turned their attention to the world of databases: SQL or NoSQL?

The question revolves around the decision whether or not to embrace SQL databases — the traditional approach — or NoSQL databases favored by those embracing the cloud. Different companies require different approaches depending on their needs, but at least one panelist wasn’t shy about sharing his views.

“SQL is terrible,” said Cliff Moon, CTO of Boundary. “It’s really bad.” Moon’s company makes application monitoring tools across the network, rather than across servers or storage devices, which means he’s naturally interested in a more flexible database model.

But flexibility doesn’t necessarily make for stability. “Would I want my checking account to run on Mongo?” wondered Dave Rubin, director of NoSQL database development at Oracle. “I can tell you for sure that the answer is no.”

Barry Morris, CEO of NUODB, wants to split the difference. His company is working on products that “maintain full relational database capabilities, but with very large scalable databases.” That allows for compatibility with older SQL-based applications but in a more flexible package.

It’s a key decision that application developers have to make when launching a product, said Peter Van Handerburg, co-founder of Heroku Postgres. “The care and feeding of a database is a full-time job, sometimes many full-time jobs,” he said. “When data gets very big, it starts to crumble.”

Check out the rest of our Structure 2012 coverage here.

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