NoSQL databases have already been around for a long time. Even Oracle owns one: Berkeley DB. Other well known databases are Voldemort, MongoDB and Cassandra.
A NoSQL database contains only key-value pairs and targets on only simple operations: store and retrieve data. Any relationships and other rules should be enforced by the application itself. A NoSQL databases has a small footprint, is embeddable, (very) fast, scalable and easy to use and usually runs on a lot of operating systems.
Therefore the sweet spot of NoSQL databases is processing loads of simple and unstructured data, like messaging, queueing and user web clicks. Not surprising that the big social networks, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and Amazon are heavy users of NoSQL databases. For some more advanced use some NoSQL databases have options for concurrency, transactional processing and high availability. Of course you can store this kind of data in a relational database, like the "regular" Oracle database as well, but that comes with a much higher price tag. An Oracle database can do so much more than just store data, but even if you don`t need those features, you still have to pay for them...
This Monday Oracle announced their knew Big Data Appliance in order to acquire, organize and analyze large volumes of simple, unstructured data in ann easy way. Part of this appliance is the new Oracle NoSQL database, which is - surprise, surprise - based on Berkeley DB. But, unlike most competitors, an Oracle NoSQL has, next to a C++ and Java API, also a SQL API! So NoSQL doesn`t mean no SQL at all, but Not Only SQL...
Oracle NoSQL will be available in two versions: a Community Edition which is free and open source and an Enterprise Edition. The functionality is the same, there is only a difference in the licensing... I am very curious how this will land in the, usually very independent and open source minded, NoSQL world!
More info on Oracle OTN
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