Relational vs non-relational databases

A Total Cost of Ownership Comparison of MongoDB & Oracle

Read our white paper comparing the total cost of ownership (TCO) of example applications.

  • TCO comparison of upfront costs such as initial developer and administrator effort, software licenses, and server and storage hardware**
  • TCO comparison of ongoing costs such as maintenance and support
  • Topline implications of using MongoDB

So what's the difference between relational vs. non-relational databases? It's an important question to answer for businesses to remain competitive – to harness all of the new data flowing into the business, and to run on commodity systems in their own data centers or in the cloud. Let's get into the details, but let's start with why then get to the how.

MongoDB’s design philosophy is focused on combining the critical capabilities of relational databases with the innovations of NoSQL technologies. Our vision is to leverage the work that Oracle and others have done over the last 40 years to make relational databases what they are today. Rather than discard decades of proven database maturity, MongoDB is picking up where they left off by combining key relational database capabilities with the work that Internet pioneers have done to address the requirements of modern applications.

Relational databases have reliably served applications for many years, and offer features that remain critical today as developers build the next generation of applications:

  • Expressive query language & secondary Indexes. Users should be able to access and manipulate their data in sophisticated ways to support both operational and analytical applications. Indexes play a critical role in providing efficient access to data, supported natively by the database rather than maintained in application code.
  • Strong consistency. Applications should be able to immediately read what has been written to the database. It is much more complex to build applications around an eventually consistent model, imposing significant work on the developer, even for the most sophisticated engineering teams.
  • Enterprise Management and Integrations. Databases are just one piece of application infrastructure, and need to fit seamlessly into the enterprise IT stack. Organizations need a database that can be secured, monitored, automated, and integrated with their existing technology infrastructure, processes, and staff, including operations teams, DBAs, and data analysts.

However, modern applications impose requirements not addressed by relational databases, and this has driven the development of NoSQL databases which offer:

  • Flexible Data Model. NoSQL databases emerged to address the requirements for the data we see dominating modern applications. Whether document, graph, key-value, or wide-column, all of them offer a flexible data model, making it easy to store and combine data of any structure and allow dynamic modification of the schema without downtime or performance impact.
  • Scalability and Performance. NoSQL databases were all built with a focus on scalability, so they all include some form of sharding or partitioning. This allows the database to scale out on commodity hardware deployed on-premises or in the cloud, enabling almost unlimited growth with higher throughput and lower latency than relational databases.
  • Always-On Global Deployments. NoSQL databases are designed for highly available systems that provide a consistent, high quality experience for users all over the world. They are designed to run across many nodes, including replication to automatically synchronize data across servers, racks, and data centers.

While offering these innovations, NoSQL systems have sacrificed the critical capabilities that people have come to expect and rely upon from relational databases. MongoDB offers a different approach. With its Nexus Architecture, MongoDB is the only database that harnesses the innovations of NoSQL while maintaining the foundation of relational databases.

A Total Cost of Ownership Comparison of MongoDB & Oracle