What is a Relational Database?

Altibase is a high performance enterprise grade relational database management system (DBMS). But, what exactly does relational mean?

For over a decade, people have been predicting the “inevitable” downfall of relational databases. And yet, the vast majority of enterprise applications still run on relational databases today. Why the discrepancy?

First, relational databases are believed to lack horizontal scalability when compared to NoSQL and to have limitations in handling large data sets. However, there have been almost no cases where data sizes are too large for relational databases to handle.

Second, a very large proportion of enterprise grade applications still rely on relational feature sets. We have gotten so used to relational databases that we now take their features for granted. As a relational database administrator, imagine the headaches you would have to deal with if your database suddenly could not support joins anymore or if your database could no longer handle any form of constraints.

While relational databases have many characteristics, below are some commonly attributed qualities:

  • Presents data to the user as relations in the form of tables that consist of columns and rows
  • Supports integrity rules such as primary keys, foreign and unique constraints, NULL values, etc.
  • Supports SQL syntax
  • Transaction support
  • ACID compliance

DBMS is a database management system.  If everything has to be handled at the application tier, at the end of the day it is just a data repository. Now, not all use cases require relational feature sets. In some cases, data integrity and ACID compliance are actually not that important. In those cases, other options such as graph databases, document stores, etc. may be an excellent choice.

Each database has unique merits and disadvantages that must be closely aligned with the needs of your business application. But if your application does demand relational features (and many do), then Altibase is the only true hybrid database that allows for both in-memory and on-disk processing while also adhering to all relational principles and paradigms.

CONCLUSION

  • Relational feature sets are still critical to a large proportion of enterprise applications.
  • ACID compliance is a core database requirement that many new players lack (particularly NoSQL).
  • SQL compliance allows existing DBA resources to easily learn and administrate Altibase, and eliminates the need for costly retraining and additional hiring.
  • Migrating systems using legacy relational databases to a new database that also supports relational features is exponentially less complex.

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