CMSWire viewed Kloudshare CEO Hank Williams’ presentation on the “Death of Relational Databases” on Sunday at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Catchy title, but is the demise of relational data stores really the future of enterprise information management? Despite our initial concern of walking into a “fanboy fest," the panel title was just catchy marketing, and Williams shares our belief that NoSQL means “not only SQL” rather than “no more relational databases” --  which would just be crazy talk.

CMSWire has previously explored the rise of the NoSQL movement and shifting perspectives on optimizing data storage for information that doesn’t fit well into the relational model that has existed for the last 30 years. Industry leaders and everyday technologists are questioning if there is a better way. According to Williams, relational databases:

  • don't treat relationships as first-class citizens
  • don't reflect how we think about many problems
  • lose abstraction because items can't be easily related when techniques such as sharding are applied to improve scalability
  • require you to know too much up-front

These challenges aren't isolated to Internet companies that appear in the technology pages of Forbes and popular blogs. Traditional companies are collecting more information, using new channels and seeing the boundaries in capabilities of relational databases.

Before the last few years, all but the most cutting-edge implementers assumed that they just needed to shape their problems to better fit within the relational model. But cloud computing, web services, platform-as-a-service and faster processors are making more experimentation possible. Novel solutions such as NoSQL and graph databases are offering increasingly sophisticated options for managing objects and their relationships in a manner that more closely resembles the real world.