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Hadoop and NoSQL: Friends, not frenemies

The term Big Data is an all-encompassing phrase that has various subdivisions addressing different needs of the customers. The most common description of Big Data talks about the four V’s: Volume, Velocity, Variety and Veracity.

Volume represents terabytes to exabytes of data, but this is data at rest. Velocity talks about streaming data requiring milliseconds to seconds of response time and is about data in motion. Variety is about data in many forms: structured, unstructured, text, spatial, and multimedia. Finally, veracity means data in doubt arising out of inconsistencies, incompleteness and ambiguities.

Hadoop is the first commercial version of Internet-scale supercomputing, akin to what HPC (high-performance computing) has done for the scientific community. It performs, and is affordable, at scale. No wonder it originated with companies operating at Internet scale, such as Yahoo in the 1990s, and then at Google, Facebook and Twitter.

In the scientific community, HPC was used for meteorology (weather simulation) and for solving engineering equations. Hadoop is used more for discovery and pattern matching. The underlying technology is similar: clustering, parallel processing and distributed file systems. Hadoop addresses the “volume” aspect of Big Data, mostly for offline analytics.

NoSQL products such as MongoDB address the “variety” aspect of Big Data: how to represent different data types efficiently with humongous read/write scalability and high availability for transactional systems operating in real time. The existing RDBMS solutions are inadequate to address this need with their schema rigidity and lack of scale-out solutions at low cost. Therefore, Hadoop and NoSQL are complementary in nature and do not compete at all.

Meet the Open Source Trio Primed to Topple Oracle

Solid IT aims to determine to what extent these new databases are actually being used. That’s why it created DB-Engines, an index of the most popular databases that draws on several sources of information. For the past year, the company has mined everything from LinkedIn profiles and job listings to question-and-answer sites in an effort to get a handle on what companies are using. Its monthly rankings show which databases have the most overall market share, but its new ranking for all of 2013 takes a different tack. It looks at which databases are growing the quickest.

The open source NoSQL database MongoDB grew the most, and that’s no surprise. Last month, it was the most popular NoSQL database in DB-Engine’s rankings, and it ranked ahead of a few relational databases, such as Microsoft Access, SQLite, and Sybase. Second place in the growth standing went to PostgreSQL, an open source relational database that’s been making waves in recent years thanks to its versatility and how well it scales across machines. It probably also benefits from the fact that, unlike MySQL, it’s not owned by Oracle.

Venture capital funding rounds keep getting bigger -- raising worries about a bubble

And one executive whose company recently landed an eye-popping deal said it's not just smart to take the big money, but often necessary for growth.

"Given the state of the markets, it made sense," said Dwight Merriman, co-founder of a New York database startup called MongoDB. In October, it hauled in $150 million from T. Rowe Price, San Francisco cloud computing heavyweight and a number of valley VC firms that had previously backed it.

Calling database software a $30 billion market, Merriman said it "takes capital" to build a contender. His firm's head count, which includes a large office in Palo Alto, has more than doubled to 370 in the past year.

Merriman is another dot-com survivor, having cofounded online advertising pioneer DoubleClick and taken it public. Compared to then, he said, companies that aren't ready to go public can wait until they are on more solid footing, thanks to today's ready availability of private funding.

4 ideas to steal from IT upstarts

As a high-tech startup, MongoDB gave no real thought to IT as it was getting off the ground.

Laptops were purchased on an as-needed basis by individual employees and expensed alongside printer paper and working lunches. Free cloud applications like Google Apps and Dropbox were the go-to productivity tools, and engineers coding the NoSQL database were certainly tech-savvy enough to spin up servers and troubleshoot problems on their own.

Yet as the company launched into hypergrowth mode, ballooning from four people in 2009 to 330 employees in a stretch of four years, MongoDB had to adjust how it handled IT. The tipping point came in 2012 when the firm hit about 70 employees, many of whom weren't developers.

"From an IT perspective, anything works with two people because the requirements are so sparse," says Eliot Horowitz, MongoDB's CTO and a co-founder. "Engineers generally want as little configuration, security and day-to-day support as possible. Scaling the IT organization had to happen when we started to support non-technical people."

MongoDB has formalized security standards and procurement policies and brought on a handful of full-time IT workers, yet its vision of IT is still a far cry from most traditional organizations. Like many newbie companies building an IT infrastructure from scratch, there's a shift away from on-premises enterprise applications to software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools and an emphasis on self-service, the goal being to empower business users and reduce the administrative and support burden on IT.

The Hottest Startup You've Never Heard of: MongoDB

Dwight Merriman and Kevin Ryan have had their hands in more than their share of high-profile Internet startups. There’s the retailer Gilt Groupe, the news website Business Insider, and DoubleClick, the advertising network that was acquired by Google in 2007 for $3.1 billion.

Those are tough acts to follow. But the duo believes that their current startup, a company few people have heard of, could be their biggest success yet: MongoDB, a maker of database software that powers some of the Web’s most trafficked websites, including Craigslist, eBay, and the New York Times.

Big Data Profile: Eliot Horowitz, MongoDB

Eliot Horowitz, MongoDB, Inc.'s co-founder and CTO, comes to programming naturally. He began coding at age four and was writing programs for his mother's medical practice before he turned 10.

But aware there aren't enough computer science prodigies like himself to go around, Horowitz says his goal is to create out-of-the-box solutions to satisfy intense customer demand for big data and analytics using MongoDB. Available as open-source, MongoDB is considered the most popular NoSQL database. These days, Horowitz is often on the road, speaking to MongoDB's 600-plus commercial customers about new features they'd like, as well as their big-data problems.

Choosing the Right Database: Understanding your Options

Our world is awash in digital data. Continuous advances in storage technologies, data-collection methods and processing power enable our businesses to capture, aggregate and analyze information from an ever-greater spectrum of sources. The opportunities are endless, but with these opportunities come daunting challenges.

On one hand, the options for assembling the ideal solution for a given data application have never been better; on the other hand, choosing the right components for that solution is ever more confusing and complex.

Cloud Computing Beats Moore’s Law by a Mile

A dozen years ago or so I was in Milan planning the first television quiz show that allowed participants to text message responses. In 2001, that was an idea ahead of its time with a price tag to match.

Founder Of MongoDB Has Only One Wish

Dwight Merriman has started three billion-dollar companies: DoubleClick, Gilt Groupe, and MongoDB. Here’s why he’s putting it all aside to get coding again.

Dwight Merriman is a developer who has founded not one, but three, enormously valuable companies. DoubleClick was acquired by Google for $3.1 billion; Gilt Groupe’s last round of investment valued the company at more than $1 billion; and until recently, Merriman was the CEO of MongoDB, worth approximately $1.2 billion. His idea of a side project? Starting news site Business Insider.

Now that Merriman has moved from CEO to chairman of MongoDB, he may finally get what he wants most: more time to do technical work. Co.Labs talked to him about databases, cofounders, and staying technical--even as his management roles expand.