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!

Try EnterpriseDB for a Business Class PostgreSQL Implementation

We recently discussed PostgreSQL here at the Betica Blog, which offers enterprises an open source database option to Oracle with similar performance specs. While open source software provides significant cost savings compared to proprietary applications, some companies worry about relative the lack of support. This makes it difficult to consider it as an alternative.

But what if it was possible to combine the lower cost of the open source world with the support and other features typical of commercial software? If you are considering PostgreSQL as a database solution, checking out EnterpriseDB also makes perfect sense. This company’s service offerings make the leap into open source databases an easier proposition.

A Closer Look at EnterpriseDB

EnterpriseDB formed in 2004 with the purpose of building a commercial product on top of an open source database. They chose PostgreSQL based on its active developer community and an already existing array of commercial deployments. The company currently boasts thousands of customers, from giant firms like ABN AMRO Bank and Sony to a host of smaller and medium-sized businesses.

Enterprise DB Product Offerings

EnterpriseDB’s main product is EDB Postgres, which comes in Developer, Standard, and Enterprise editions. All three editions include a version of PostgreSQL as well as tools to handle replication, backup and recovery, migration, and monitoring. Companies looking for the superior performance of Postgres Advanced Server need to choose the EDB Postgres Enterprise.

The Enterprise edition also provides additional functionality not offered by the other two versions. This includes additional security and performance enhancements, as well as added features suitable for your developers and/or DBAs. Full compatibility with Oracle rounds out the feature set.

Fresh software updates in addition to security alerts and fixes are also part of each package. Companies preferring to forego investing in their own on-premises data center need to check out EnterpriseDB’s Cloud DBaaS option. Postgres Plus Cloud Database offers both cost savings and seamless scalability, leveraging the Amazon EC2 platform.

Commercial Support for an Open Source Database

One of the main selling points of EnterpriseDB, or any commercial offering built on top of an open source product, is its production level support. This is vital for firms with mission-critical, public facing database applications. EnterpriseDB offers premium production support for the Standard and Enterprise Editions and even includes a measure of non-production support for the Developer Edition.

The production quality support boasts a 24 x 7 service level with a response goal of one hour. Phone, email, and remote access options are all provided with an unlimited number of incidents. The company also provides a robust supply of web-accessible documentation, including PDF manuals, a knowledge base, and a software archive. 

Since PostgreSQL is known for its developer community; don’t forget using it as a source for technical advice or to get any pressing questions answered.

If your organization hopes to replace its commercial proprietary database and is considering an open source solution, EnterpriseDB with its added security, performance, and support offers the best of both worlds. It is a product worthy of your consideration.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for future dispatches from the world of software development and QA.

PostgreSQL — an Enterprise Database Alternative to Oracle

Many enterprises still rely on Oracle as their relational database of choice. This decision largely makes sense, considering Oracle’s robust feature set and excellent performance handling huge amounts of data. However, with the rise in popularity of open source software solutions, many firms are now looking for an alternative to a proprietary RDMBS, like Oracle. Enter PostgreSQL.

One of the most popular open source relational database systems, PostgreSQL (or simply Postgre) boasts many of the same features as Oracle, most importantly enterprise-level performance. Companies are able to save significant money leveraging Postgre instead of the proprietary Oracle. While MySQL is another worthy open source option, it works better when used on smaller projects or for developers first learning relational database design and programming.

Let’s look more closely at PostgreSQL and see if it makes sense as another tool on your next open source development project.

PostgreSQL — Features and Functionality

PostgreSQL offers support for most of the core SQL:2011 standard and includes most SQL:2008 data types. The open source database provides many of the standard SQL features familiar to programmers, including foreign keys, views, triggers, joins, and stored procedures. Large data objects in the BLOB format are handled, so you can store rich media data (video, audio, etc.) within a relational database.

The database also supports a variety of enterprise level features, making it worthy of consideration as an alternative to Oracle. Multi-version Concurrency Control is vital for databases with heavy traffic, as is full ACID compliance. Online backups, asynchronous replication, and nested savepoints are other functionality in-demand from a high-end database.

Most popular operating systems run Postgre; most notably Linux, UNIX, Mac OS X and Windows. Programming interfaces exist for a variety of languages — Java, C/C++, the .NET Framework languages, Perl, Python, Ruby, and more. PostgreSQL regularly wins the Linux Journal Editors’ Choice Award for best RDBMS.

If you need to extend the database’s functionality, Postgre includes its own PL/SQL similar to Oracle. You are also able to write stored procedures and triggers in C for an added flexibility boost. Its continued status as an open source project means a robust and helpful community exists whenever questions or issues arise.

Is Postgre truly an Enterprise Replacement for Oracle?

Upon its first release in the mid to late 90s, Postgre’s performance wasn’t anything to write home about. Even the other major open source RDBMS option, MySQL, was faster, let alone Oracle and SQL Server. Over time and with programming skills of the open source community, the tables have turned. More recent benchmarks now show Postgre rivaling Oracle in query performance and surpassing MySQL as well.

When considering all the costs incurred on any large development project, proprietary database licensing definitely stands out. This is one reason many companies are now using PostgreSQL on projects instead of Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server. ROI happens much faster when leveraging open source software, like Postgre, compared to proprietary alternatives.

With Oracle no longer able to claim significant advantages in performance or functionality compared to PostgreSQL, businesses of all sizes need to consider going the open source route for the RDBMS on their next database project.

Check out the next edition of the Betica Blog for additional insights into the world of software development and quality assurance.