An Overview of Neo4j – the NoSQL Graph Database

blog-neo4j

NoSQL databases have grown in popularity over the last few years because they meet many needs of modern businesses better than traditional relational databases, especially when trying to gain meaningful knowledge out of the masses of data generated by social media – i.e., Big Data. The “NoSQL” moniker covers a whole host of database formats and structures, with document, graph, and key-value pair databases being three of the most common types. Many of the popular NoSQL databases also have open source origins.

Graph databases are highly suitable for those “needle in the haystack” scenarios when trying to find a singular relationship within a Big Data store. Neo4j continues to be an industry leading example of this NoSQL type. Here is an overview of Neo4j.

The Genesis of Neo4j

Developed by Neo Technology, the first version of Neo4j became available in early 2010. An open source edition of the product is freely available for developers and database professionals to explore its functionality. A variety of commercial licenses, including the Neo4j Enterprise Edition, give businesses additional features, like support for large volumes, scalability, and online backups.

Version 3.1 is the most recent stable release of Neo4j. The growing popularity of graph databases in general is one of the reasons Neo Technology closed on $36 million of venture capital in November of last year. The open source version of Neo4j has been downloaded 2.5 million times.

What makes Graph Databases so great?

Graph databases focus on the connections within the data; greatly outperforming traditional SQL databases in finding relationships between records in real time. Because of this superfast query speed, graph databases are highly suitable in a variety of scenarios, including fraud detection, social network applications, searching for information, and more.

This database format is also appropriate for organizations building applications using Agile. Time isn’t wasted creating massive database diagrams where one table change affects many parts of an application. As such, it nicely serves the needs of the nimble business.

The Advantages of Neo4j

One major advantage Neo4j holds over many other NoSQL and graph databases it its support for ACID (atomic, consistent, isolated, and durable) transactions. This helps ensure the quality of data, especially in widely distributed architectures where data gets replicated across different Cloud-based server farms.

The Enterprise Edition of Neo4j includes a feature known as “elastic scalability” where internal memory stores offer fast queries, with high availability provided by a replication protocol. Even greater scalability is achieved when using the Neo4j version compatible with IBM’s POWER8 processor.

Driver support for many of the most popular programming languages – Java, C#, Python, JavaScript – is included. The robust Neo4j community has also developed drivers for Ruby, PHP, and other languages. The database also plays well with many other data programming frameworks, such as JDBC, Django ORM, Spring Data, and more.

Neo4j also integrates with other popular NoSQL databases, including MongoDB and Cassandra, giving developers a measure of flexibility in building database applications to handle different needs.

If your organization is interested in NoSQL databases, download the open source version of Neo4j and explore how easy it is to create graphs and build queries against them. Soon your customers will be able to find the needle in their haystack of Big Data.

Keep checking out the Betica Blog for additional insights from the wide world of software development. Thanks for reading!