Following the announcement of Oracle NoSQL Database 3.0, Oracle Magazine sat down with Dave Segleau, director of product management at Oracle, to talk about the state of NoSQL, NoSQL use cases, and key features in Oracle NoSQL Database 3.0. The following is an excerpt from that interview; listen to the full interview at oracle.com/magcasts.
Oracle Magazine: What is the role of NoSQL in the enterprise today?
Segleau: NoSQL is part of the big data umbrella of technologies, and it plays a role in the architecture and deployment of big data solutions. NoSQL provides a cost-effective, high-performance, horizontally scalable database platform for very simple structured and semistructured data and simple operations at volume. Enterprises are adopting NoSQL databases because they offer very flexible application developer–centric data models and more-efficient operations for simple data structures, which means that enterprises can increase revenue by providing new types of applications and services, as well as lower their overall IT costs.
Oracle Magazine: How does NoSQL complement other information technologies—including the relational database?
Segleau: NoSQL was not designed as a general-purpose database engine, but rather it was designed to address a specific set of data management challenges. As such, it’s really a component within any enterprise data management solution. It complements Apache Hadoop and Hadoop’s distributed data processing by providing an equally distributed low-latency database platform for fast indexed data access directly from the MapReduce processes within Hadoop.
It complements relational databases by providing a horizontally scalable high-speed database with relaxed transaction semantics specifically designed for high-volume, high-velocity distributed operations. This often results in NoSQL being used to create new applications or capture new data sets, or in some cases, to offload some of the data and operations from relational databases. NoSQL databases are never deployed in an isolated data management solution. Every one of our Oracle NoSQL Database customers deploys a combination of NoSQL, relational databases, and Hadoop together, using the technology that’s the best tool for the job at hand.
Oracle Magazine: How are organizations using Oracle NoSQL Database today?
Segleau: Based on the customers we’ve talked to who have adopted Oracle NoSQL Database, I can summarize the use cases into three basic types. First, we see a lot of companies using Oracle NoSQL Database for what I call web scale personalization and transactional applications. We often see these kinds of applications in customer service and customer self-service. Industries for this kind of application include financial services, insurance, advertising, marketing, online catalogs, social media, and e-retail.
The second use case that we see often is Oracle NoSQL Database being used for real-time event processing, and we typically see applications in fraud prevention, medical monitoring, factory automation, quality-of-service monitoring, and geolocation tracking.
And the third use case we often see is Oracle NoSQL Database being used for time-series data management. We typically see applications within financial services for managing stock and trading information as well as within utilities, oil and gas, and manufacturing for capturing sensor data.
Oracle Magazine: What types of processes and what other technologies are typically involved in these use cases?
Segleau: The technologies involved largely depend on the functionality that’s being implemented. In every case we’ve seen, there is definitely a relational database such as Oracle Database and a data warehouse in close proximity and, in fact, integrated with the data in the NoSQL databases. In many cases, especially with web scale personalization and time-series data management, Hadoop and MapReduce are also used to provide batch processing and simple summary statistics on the enormous amounts of data that are becoming available.
We also often see middleware technologies integrated as part of a NoSQL-based solution. In particular, we see products such as Oracle Event Processing and Oracle Real-Time Decisions software used to process and manage real-time events as well as caching products such as Oracle Coherence to cache both relational and nonrelational data in the same application cache grid.
Enterprises are adopting NoSQL databases because they offer very flexible application developer–centric data models and more-efficient operations for simple data structures.
Oracle Magazine: Oracle recently announced a new release of Oracle NoSQL Database—Oracle NoSQL Database 3.0. Tell us about the key features of this release and how it is enabling better big data processes and results.
Segleau: Oracle NoSQL Database 3.0 was released in early April 2014, and it includes some really interesting new features. The release includes a new table-based data model with support for secondary indexes, and it also includes support for secondary data centers, which we’re calling zones, as well as the first set of features around security.
Oracle Magazine: Tell us more about the new table data model and secondary indexes features.
Along with the introduction of tables, Oracle NoSQL Database 3.0 adds secondary indexes, which can be built on any combination of fields within a given record. The secondary indexes are colocated with the primary data on each shard in the Oracle NoSQL Database. The advantage of this is that reads and writes on the secondary index are very, very fast because they’re colocated with the primary record within the same shard. Additionally, the indexes are transactionally consistent and secondary index scans are automatically parallelized across the shards. This results in a highly efficient and scalable indexing scheme, which application developers can then take advantage of to meet the requirements of their high-volume, low-latency queries.
Oracle Magazine: Tell us more about the new secondary data centers feature.
Segleau: Oracle NoSQL Database introduced support for data centers in Release 2.1, allowing enterprises to allocate resources, essentially storage nodes, across data centers with automatic replication and failover between the different resources. Oracle NoSQL Database 3.0 adds secondary data centers, which we’re now calling zones. Secondary zones allow enterprises to define remote data centers, which participate in global distribution via automatic asynchronous replication.
So not only is Oracle NoSQL Database 3.0 replicating the data, but the secondary data centers feature also enables applications to define queries and workloads to be executed only on specific secondary zones. Using the feature, applications can run specific workloads such as batch processing or reporting against secondary zones rather than impact the throughput and low-latency queries that are being executed within the primary zone. This combination of capabilities enables enterprises to ensure continuity through global disaster recovery planning and to manage query and application load balancing across and between primary and secondary zones.
Oracle Magazine: Tell us more about the new security features enabled in the new Oracle NoSQL Database release.
Segleau: Oracle NoSQL Database adds SSL [Secure Sockets Layer] encryption over the wire for both client/server and server-to-server communications, and it adds an operating-system-independent, clusterwide password-based user authentication. Passwords can be stored in a secure, obfuscated trust store or within the Oracle wallet. These two capabilities enable enterprises to provide greater protection from unauthorized access to sensitive data, as well as to protect from network intrusions.
Oracle Magazine: How have NoSQL and Oracle NoSQL Database evolved, and what are the business and technology challenges for NoSQL going forward?
Segleau: The primary change that we’ve seen is that applications have moved from being science experiments to production deployments of mission-critical technology. This impacts the NoSQL technology industry in a couple of ways. First of all, the decision-makers have changed; it’s no longer just the application developers who are choosing which NoSQL product to use. Enterprise IT departments are becoming important influencers in choosing which NoSQL technology vendors to partner with.
The second change is a shift in product focus. In the early years of NoSQL, the technology and feature focus was extremely developer-centric; it was all about feeds and speeds. But over the past year or so, security and system administration—especially of large, complex production deployments—has taken center stage. This evolution also affects the features that are included in Oracle NoSQL Database. This evolution in product focus emphasizes the need to provide integration with the overall existing Oracle IT technology, as well as to provide simple and automated administration capabilities that address the IT concerns around critical functions like disaster recovery, security, and global data integrity.
I think that the challenge for businesses is to identify technology partners, not just products, that share an integrated enterprise-centric view of how NoSQL extends their existing IT infrastructure.
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Photography by Tim Scharner, Unsplash