Information Management questions whether the NoSQL data structures will restrict the opportunities to exploit the data – a database ‘trap’ currently seen in relational databases.

All data was pushed into this “box,” or tabular format, because that was the structure of relational data stores. The opportunities provided to us by the relational data schema superseded many of the opportunities of that the data provided. We had become “tools” to the relational database rather than expanding into the “nature” of the data. Unfortunately, for NoSQL platforms, we might be falling into the same trap.

Are technologists and business stakeholders becoming beholden to the perceived unstructured nature of NoSQL platforms as we did to the structure of the relational database?

The architects of NoSQL platforms (such as Hadoop, Neo4J, CouchDB, etc.) have focused a lot on the lack of structure of the data being stored within their systems. This is similar to using relational platforms and forcing data into the relational “box” – or becoming tools of the platform.

I think the future of NoSQL platforms is going to reside in the ability of those systems to apply different operational or analytical schemas to multi-structured data sets rather than letting the data reside in a schema-free format. Merely storing multi-structured data sets will not be enough to have a NoSQL platform meet business objectives. The true business value will be in the ability to apply the structures of a particular schema for analysis or for operational workloads in real-time or near real-time.

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