Tony Bain

Building products & teams that leverage data, analytics, AI & automation to do amazing things

The NoSQL community needs to engage the DBA’s

July 30, 2009 | Tony Bain

The NoSQL movement has been gaining some steam lately, with discussion forums and mailing lists popping up all around the web.  Despite having a career that has been centered on the RDBMS, I have made no secret that I think we have gone too far down with our RDBMS for everything mindset.  I think we need to add a few more tools back into our data toolbox. 

Today, 99.5% of new data centric developments started will use a RDBMS by default.  Maybe .5 of a % will consider using something as obtuse as a NoSQL platform.  By experience I know the majority of people discussing NoSQL platforms today are web developers.  In fact there is almost a sense of trying to trying to keep this under the radar of DBAs.  If we don’t talk to the DBAs about this stuff then they won’t bother us with all that jabber about consistency, data integrity, robustness and recovery. 

Actually, many of the NoSQL projects are touting one of the key benefits of a NoSQL platform is you can do big data without the need of a costly DBA.


This shows me that the people making those comments have no idea what DBAs do and what happens with critical data applications post deployment.

A NoSQL data platform may have a different approach to operational management than a RDBMS, but a large part of the requirement will be the same.  It doesn’t matter if you have 10, 100 or 1000GB of data deployed on a NoSQL platform or an RDBMS.  Someone still needs to be thinking about backups & recovery, availability, capacity planning, performance monitoring, import/export, data integration, tuning & optimization, replication latency and so on.  Also, I have never come across any technology that works perfectly 100% of the time, so when things don’t work as expected and nodes are out of sync or partial data corruption occurs at 2am, someone will still need to fix it.  Guess who that is going to be.

DBAs are critical to any wide scale success with NoSQL platforms.  They need to be engaged and educated.  Sure they are going to be really annoying for quite a while, ripping into common NoSQL limitations such as lack of transaction support, eventual consistency, data duplication & application controlled data integrity.  However over time they will start to see the positive aspects as well and learn sometimes a mallet isn’t the only tool required.