Monday, August 15, 2011

Spiral evolution of technologies

Non sense alert: This post is pretty much non-sensical.

We are observing an interesting trend to move towards NoSQL. Let the misconception aside, I am talking about the spiral evolution from dumb data, to structured/smart data, and back to dumb data.

Before SQL came about, people used to derive their own structs and dump them to a binary file. Reading back was a simple matter or seeking to the correct position and grab a chunk. No query was possible beside the obvious query by position.

Then came SQL and all the query goodies. This was possible because there was a so-called schema to describe the data, that this field was a string, that field was an integer, in an almost universal way. The schema allowed for intelligence. SQL server is able to understand its data and make logical relational queries on them.

Nowadays, we are seemingly moving back to the previous dumb model with NoSQL. This is what I meant by spiral evolution, we are back to where we were once, but at a higher level. Apparently, people realize that some data do not need to be smart. They are just chunks of bits and bytes. What is more important in dealing with them is how to store them efficiently. And there born NoSQL whose main purpose (among others) is to be a very good way to persist data.

What is observable in NoSQL is that they tend to be schema-free. This usually translates into simple queries, and primitive relations. However, it reduces the overhead of the server. The server does not have to perform extra works to make sense of the data it manages. This makes sense, right? After all, it is the application which ultimately knows about its data.

Looking into the future, we probably will see a trend back to schema-enabled data few years or decades later, won't we?

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