What is NoSQL?

NoSQL is a non-relational DMS, that does not require a fixed schema, avoids joins, and is easy to scale. NoSQL database is used for distributed data stores with humongous data storage needs. NoSQL is used for Big data and real-time web apps. For example companies like Twitter, Facebook, Google that collect terabytes of user data every single day.

NoSQL database stands for “Not Only SQL” or “Not SQL.” 


  • SQL pronounced as “S-Q-L” or as “See-Quel” is primarily called RDBMS or Relational Databases whereas NoSQL is a Non-relational or Distributed Database.
  • Comparing SQL vs NoSQL database, SQL databases are table based databases whereas NoSQL databases can be document based, key-value pairs, graph databases.
  • SQL databases are vertically scalable while NoSQL databases are horizontally scalable.
  • SQL databases have a predefined schema whereas NoSQL databases use dynamic schema for unstructured data.
  • Comparing NoSQL vs SQL performance, SQL requires specialized DB hardware for better performance while NoSQL uses commodity hardware.

Difference between SQL and NoSQL

Below is the main difference between NoSQL and SQL:

DefinitionSQL databases are primarily called RDBMS or Relational DatabasesNoSQL databases are primarily called as Non-relational or distributed database
Design forTraditional RDBMS uses SQL syntax and queries to analyze and get the data for further insights. They are used for OLAP systems.NoSQL database system consists of various kind of database technologies. These databases were developed in response to the demands presented for the development of the modern application.
Query LanguageStructured query language (SQL)No declarative query language
TypeSQL databases are table based databasesNoSQL databases can be document based, key-value pairs, graph databases
SchemaSQL databases have a predefined schemaNoSQL databases use dynamic schema for unstructured data.
Ability to scaleSQL databases are vertically scalableNoSQL databases are horizontally scalable
ExamplesOracle, Postgres, and MS-SQL.MongoDB, Redis, Neo4j, Cassandra, Hbase.
Best suited forAn ideal choice for the complex query intensive environment.It is not good fit complex queries.
Hierarchical data storageSQL databases are not suitable for hierarchical data storage.More suitable for the hierarchical data store as it supports key-value pair method.
VariationsOne type with minor variations.Many different types which include key-value stores, document databases, and graph databases.
Development YearIt was developed in the 1970s to deal with issues with flat file storageDeveloped in the late 2000s to overcome issues and limitations of SQL databases.
Open-sourceA mix of open-source like Postgres & MySQL, and commercial like Oracle Database.Open-source
ConsistencyIt should be configured for strong consistency.It depends on DBMS as some offers strong consistency like MongoDB, whereas others offer only offers eventual consistency, like Cassandra.
Best Used forRDBMS database is the right option for solving ACID problems.NoSQL is a best used for solving data availability problems
ImportanceIt should be used when data validity is super importantUse when it’s more important to have fast data than correct data
Best optionWhen you need to support dynamic queriesUse when you need to scale based on changing requirements
HardwareSpecialized DB hardware (Oracle Exadata, etc.)Commodity hardware
NetworkHighly available network (Infiniband, Fabric Path, etc.)Commodity network (Ethernet, etc.)
Storage TypeHighly Available Storage (SAN, RAID, etc.)Commodity drives storage (standard HDDs, JBOD)
Best featuresCross-platform support, Secure and freeEasy to use, High performance, and Flexible tool.
Top Companies UsingHootsuite, CircleCI, GaugesAirbnb, Uber, Kickstarter
Average salaryThe average salary for any professional SQL Developer is $84,328 per year in the U.S.A.The average salary for “NoSQL developer” ranges from approximately $72,174 per year
ACID vs. BASE ModelACID( Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability) is a standard for RDBMSBase ( Basically Available, Soft state, Eventually Consistent) is a model of many NoSQL systems

When use SQL?

  • SQL is the easiest language used to communicate with the RDBMS
  • Analyzing behavioral related and customized sessions
  • Building custom dashboards
  • It allows you to store and gets data from the database quickly
  • Preferred when you want to use joins and execute complex queries

When use NoSQL?

  • When ACID support is not needed
  • When Traditional RDBMS model is not enough
  • Data which need a flexible schema
  • Constraints and validations logic not required to be implemented in database
  • Logging data from distributed sources
  • It should be used to store temporary data like shopping carts, wish list and session data




Last modified: May 27, 2021



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