Does the Full-featured DBMS Scale to Web Scale?

I am a little attached to RDBMS and SQL since we worked on an engine called Integra SQL, for a decade starting in 1985. Declarative queries fascinate me. In fact declarative anything fascinates me since I think it is the only we can push complexity under the hood and have application developers deal with higher levels of abstractions.

I have been watching the NoSQL space for a while. I really don’t like that name. I have watched ORMs (object relational mappers), columnar databases, Entity stores (just another name?), document databases, Open Linked Data, RDF stores and the whole galore. There is a common thread. Large data sets, web scale computing, distributed data are some common themes.

So when I saw this link for the panel discussions on VLDB, I thought it deserved a read. I am not sure why a dated article fell into my infostream. Here is an interesting snippet.

Does the full-featured DBMS scale to web scale? Microsoft says the Azure version of SQL server does. Yahoo says they want no SQL but Hadoop and PNUTS.Twitter, Facebook, and other web names got their own discussion. Why do they not go to serious DBMS vendors for their data but make their own, like Facebook with Hive?

Who can divine the mind of the web developer? What makes them go to memcached, manually sharded MySQL, and MapReduce, walking away from the 40 years of technology invested in declarative query and ACID?

A few more interesting quotes from this page:

The appeal exerted by the diverse language/paradigm -isms on their followers seems to be based on hitting a simplification of reality that coincides with a problem in the air. MapReduce is an example of this. PHP is another. A quick fix for a present need: Scripting web servers (PHP) or processing tons of files (MapReduce).

query languages that were ever universally adopted were declarative, i.e., keyword search and SQL

It is an interesting space to watch. If this movement is the real thing, it may change a lot of the way we build data driven apps in the future.


I found this article while I was doing some testing of InfoPro, a product we have been working on a for a few months.

A few more things you may want to lookup – couchdb, cassandra, mongodb

2 thoughts on “Does the Full-featured DBMS Scale to Web Scale?

  1. I understand how feel about the name “NoSQL”. However, I think DBMS cant manage web scale. They are not built for distributed computing to serve such large user base:

    The very same ACID property (READ COMMITTED transaction isolation level) does not let the DBMS to distribute load across multiple db servers. For web scale you have to let go “Consistency” & “Atomicity” across clusters.

    1. Mani,
      Thanks. Good points and I agree. As I was lamenting in reply to another tweet, I worry less about ACID. While useful in certain classes of apps, it certainly has an impact on concurrency. What I really mourn about is the loss of declarative query. I guess you can’t have the cake and eat it too. I also worry about the lack of standards in the new distributed paradigms.

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