The beginning of the end of NoSQL

CouchOne has become the first of the major NoSQL database vendors to publicly distance itself from the term NoSQL, something we have been expecting for some time.

While the term NoSQL enabled the likes of 10gen, Basho, CouchOne, Membase, Neo Technologies and Riptano to generate significant attention for their various database projects/products it was always something of a flag of convenience.

Somewhat less convenient is the fact that grouping the key-value, document, graph and column family data stores together under the NoSQL banner masked their differentiating features and potential use cases.

As Mikael notes in the post: “The term ‘NoSQL’ continues to lump all the companies together and drowns out the real differences in the problems we try to tackle and the challenges we face.”

It was inevitable, therefore, that as the products and vendors matured the focus would shift towards specific use cases and the NoSQL movement would fragment.

CouchOne is by no means the only vendor thinking about distancing itself from NoSQL, especially since some of them are working on SQL interfaces. Again, we would see this fragmentation as a sign of maturity, rather than crisis.

The ongoing differentiation is something we plan to cover in depth with a report looking at the specific use cases of the “database alternatives” early in 2011.

It is also interesting that CouchOne is distancing itself from NoSQL in part due to the conflation of the term with Big Data. We have observed this ourselves and would agree that it is a mistake.

While some of the use cases for some of the NoSQL databases do involve large distributed data sets not all of them do, and we had noted that the launch of the CouchOne Mobile development environment was designed to play to the specific strengths of Apache CouchDB: peer-based bidirectional replication, including disconnected mode, and a crash-only design.

Incidentally, Big Data is another term we expect to diminish in usage in 2011, since Bigdata is a trademark of a company called SYSTAP.

Witness the fact that the Data Analytics Summit, which I’ll be attending next week, was previously the Big Data Summit. We assume that is also the reason Big Data News has been upgraded to Massive Data News.

The focus on big data sets and solving big data problems will continue, of course, but expect much less use of Big Data as a brand.

Similarly, while we expect many of the “NoSQL” databases have a bright future, expect much less focus on the term NoSQL.