An Overview of Neo4j – the NoSQL Graph Database

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!

Agile and DevOps make Perfect Partners

A recent technology report came to a conclusion that won’t be a surprise to many of you. It seems Agile and DevOps offer more benefits when paired together at an organization compared to when they are implemented individually. This makes sense when considering DevOps grew out of a need for a better organizational structure for technology projects using Agile.

With the hopes of making your application development process more efficient, this article looks at the details of the report to find those actionable insights relevant to your software engineering organization. Good luck in your efforts!

The CA Technologies Report on Agile and DevOps

CA Technologies commissioned a study by Coleman Parkes Research to ask technology executives on how their organizations’ implementation of Agile and DevOps is transforming their business operations. The study’s lead conclusion noted that 81 percent of the surveyed executives feel Agile and DevOps are a vital aspect of their operational evolution. The study’s other insights also provide food for thought for your managerial team.

Over 80 percent of those surveyed said their organizations are currently using either Agile or DevOps. Still, only one-third of those senior executives felt either methodology was sufficiently implemented at their business. CA Technologies concluded that this highlighted a maturity gap needing to be fixed for those businesses to truly evolve their operations.

The Benefits of Mature Agile and DevOps Programs are Numerous

Companies able to successfully implement both Agile and DevOps all across their organization see numerous benefits according to the executives in the survey. Advanced Agile users are able to act on important decisions sooner than those new to the methodology. Experienced DevOps enterprises implement ideas 42 percent faster than those companies not using the organizational structure.

Adding DevOps to an organization already well-versed in Agile causes new business growth to increase by 63 percent compared to companies only doing Agile. Operational efficiency also improves by 41 percent. These last two conclusions from the study should be enough to convince most larger technology shops to combine Agile and DevOps instead of merely doing one or the other.

The survey also noted some of the leading factors preventing a company-wide implementation of Agile and DevOps. Security issues ranked as the top reason for both methodologies, followed by budgetary concerns, and the lack of integration tools. Organizational culture and resistance to change are also contributing factors.

Using Agile beyond Information Technology

The CA Technologies study also mentioned that Agile offers benefits to organizations that go beyond their IT department. Some of the surveyed executives noted their companies use Agile in the marketing (54 percent), customer service (53 percent), and sales departments (52 percent.) Finally, only six percent of the companies have implemented Agile across their entire enterprise.

Angela Tucci, CA Technologies’ general manager for Agile management summed up the survey’s conclusion. “Agile and DevOps practices lead to happier, more productive employees…which in turn leads to happier, more satisfied customers. And when Agile and DevOps are practiced together, the benefits are even better,” said Tucci.

When you need additional insights on the ever-changing software development world, come back to the Betica Blog. Thanks for your readership!

Implementing Continuous Delivery with Screwdriver

Continuous Delivery is the Holy Grail driving many companies to initiate Agile and DevOps programs with the hope for rapid software development, enhancements, and fixes. In a competitive business world, quality applications are a big differentiator between the top organizations and those merely treading water. CD helps enterprises manage their development process in a more efficient manner.

Screwdriver is an application from Yahoo that facilitates Continuous Delivery; the company recently released it into open source status. Let’s take a closer look at the software to see if its features make it worthy of exploration as part of your company’s CD program.

A Closer Look at Screwdriver

Offering scalable continuous delivery, Screwdriver is a tool well-suited for organizations with a widely distributed application infrastructure. Yahoo developed the app for its own array of internal applications. It is possible they are open sourcing it before the company is fully acquired by Verizon.

James Collins, Yahoo’s senior director of engineering commented on the tool’s major advantages. “Screwdriver handles over 25,000 builds per day and 12,000 daily Git commits as a single shared entry point for Yahoo. It supports multiple languages and handles both virtual machine and container-based builds and deployment,” said Collins. Enterprises with large development teams stand to benefit from the application as part of their own CD initiatives.

The application’s architecture is relatively straightforward. A front-end manages handles users input and receives status messages from the rest of the software. The back-end includes a stateless API, which controls and launches builds and other functionality. Docker Swarm is used within Screwdriver to manage environment clusters.

According to Collins, the three main benefits of the application are making deployment pipelines easy, optimizing for trunk development, and to facilitate change rollbacks. Yahoo wanted their trunks shippable, so they leveraged Selenium to handle automated testing as part of Screwdriver’s build process. In short, Screwdriver allows for the efficient management of the build process – an important component of any Continuous Delivery initiative.

Screwdriver has been in use at Yahoo for over five years and is a major part of the company being able to implement CD and DevOps. Collins feels the tool lets programmers fully control the state of an application’s production infrastructure – a key part of the company’s DevOps organizational structure.

The Future of an Open Source Screwdriver

Yahoo is still planning to make enhancements to Screwdriver. These include the storage of build metadata, improved metrics and reporting, system templates, as well as more detailed log analysis. All these features are expected to let companies better refine their Continuous Delivery processes.

With a great proprietary CD-optimized build tool, what prompted Yahoo to release the application to the vibrant open source community? It appears to be an act of charity with a potential benefit to many organizations hoping to implement Continuous Delivery. These companies need to fully explore what Screwdriver brings to the table to ensure they are able to stay competitive with the rest of the business world.

James Collins sums up how Screwdriver enabled CD at Yahoo. “Yahoo’s engineering has modernized as it has embraced Continuous Delivery as a strategy for improving product quality and engineering agility. All our active products deliver from commit to production with full automation and this has greatly improved Yahoo’s ability to deliver products,” said Collins.

Keep returning to the Betica Blog for additional news and insights from the robust world of software development. Thanks for reading!