NoSQL Database is one of the most popular types of databases used in the industry for various use-cases.

But, what is a NoSQL database? Is it any better than the usual relational databases? What are some of the best NoSQL database programs you can consider for your projects?

Here, I shall discuss all the above questions to help you explore more about it.

What is a NoSQL Database?

A NoSQL database can be classified as something that doesn’t store the data the same way a relational database does.

NoSQL database is often called a “Not only SQL” or “Non-SQL” database.

The data is unstructured when it comes to a NoSQL Database

Is NoSQL Database in Demand?

NoSQL databases are quite popular in the industry and growing. It provides several advantages over a traditional relational database, improving the cloud’s potential and capabilities to handle a larger set of data without any hassle.

Technically, NoSQL databases are bigger, but due to the reduced cost of storage, other benefits of NoSQL outshine the drawback.

In addition to that, some of the best database management tools and SQL optimization tools help you take care of it easily.

How is NoSQL Database Better? When Should You Use It?

When it comes to queries, NoSQL databases turn out to be faster than SQL databases.

Of course, it depends on the size, but usually, when we are dealing with massive databases, NoSQL gets the edge because it does not have any joins and is perfectly optimized for queries.

You will find every data collectively put together for NoSQL databases. So, you get things faster when you need them.

In addition to the performance benefit, you also get more perks with NoSQL, including:

  • Flexible data model: NoSQL database allows you to easily tweak/change or iterate the database quickly, allowing you to seamlessly add new features to your application. So, if your requirements change, you have nothing to worry about.
  • Scale-out: Instead of scaling up to upgrade your server specifications, NoSQL databases allow you the flexibility to add more server points to migrate the data and make it available on more servers across the globe, helping you distribute the capacity.
  • Easy for developers: The data structures of NoSQL databases (some) are mapped to those of popular programming languages, which allows a developer to minimize code, and improve development time.

NoSQL database is the new norm when dealing with big databases. But, it also benefits smaller projects if your priority includes scaling out in the future, keeping the database flexible, and making things easy for the developers.

Some applications of NoSQL databases include healthcare records, finance services, and others.

Let’s now look at the best NoSQL databases for modern projects.

MongoDB is a popular choice when it comes to NoSQL database services/programs. However, there are potentially better options for different requirements. Let me highlight some of the best NoSQL databases, which can also act as alternatives to MongoDB.

RavenDB

RavenDB is a solid NoSQL document-type database with support for ACID transactions (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability) long before MongoDB introduced it.

You can download it for the major platforms, including Windows, Linux, macOS (Intel), Raspberry Pi, and Docker. It also offers managed cloud hosting solution with its API to help you automate and easily manage anything you need. 

It supports multimodel architecture and can help you with graph queries as well.

RavenDB provides an intuitive user experience to facilitate an advanced query engine, offers integration with relational databases, and ease of use even if you are not a developer.

You can get started for free using the community license for on-premise use or a cloud instance. Of course, you will be limited to certain features, but it should be good enough for small projects and prototypes.

Couchbase

Couchbase is a proven solution for cloud, on-premises, hybrid, distributed cloud, and edge computing deployments.

While it focuses on performance like every other option, you get flexible JSON schema support and fully integrated SDKs for Java, .NET, Scala, Go, JavaScript, and Python.

It supports distributed ACID transactions and features a memory-first high-performance design. Furthermore, there are several other key highlights, including the support for scaling-up and scale-out approaches thanks to its elastic Multi-Dimensional scaling architecture.

Couchbase is a good fit for mobile and IoT applications.

OrientDB

OrientDB is one of the first multi-model open-source NoSQL database programs that let you make the best use of graphs and documents.

It is also an ACID-compliant database with support for the most common use cases. You can download the community edition for free or opt for the enterprise edition as per your requirements.

The enterprise edition is available as an add-on to the open-source offering. So, the transition from your on-premise deployment to an enterprise setup should be seamless with OrientDB.

ArangoDB

ArangoDB is a popular option for enterprises with the capabilities to store data for graphs, documents, and search.

It also supports a multi-model document database. Instead of JSON syntax for queries (in some programs), ArangoDB utilizes its own SQL-like query language (AQL) to handle complex queries with ease of use.

You get all the essential support to scale and use clutter deployments as required.

You can download it as an on-premise offering for free using the community edition. It supports Windows, Linux, macOS, Docker, and SUSE as some major platforms.

ArangoDB also offers a fully managed cloud deployment, i.e., ArangoDB OASIS, with a free trial. You can also download the enterprise edition for free to evaluate before deciding.

Neo4j

Neo4j is a NoSQL database focused on storing graph data. It could prove to be a viable solution if you need more in-depth context for your database for analytics.

Like others, it also focuses on performance, reliability, and integrity. However, its focus on richer content can help increase ML accuracy, making better predictions.

It also supports ACID transactions. You get integration support with React, GraphQL, Vue, and other open-source frameworks to streamline things.

You get different offerings for managed cloud solutions and a few products for local or remote projects. After all, you can get started for free.

Apache Cassandra

Apache Cassandra is an open-source NoSQL distributed database. It is popular for its scalability and high availability while focusing on performance.

Considering it does not focus on different data models, you will have to learn CQL and Gremlin to work with graph data.

Apache Cassandra is a solid offering with support for scalability, giving you control, security, and more. However, it does not support ACID transactions. Instead, it lets you decide the transaction’s consistency.

You get various cloud offerings that include a fully managed solution.

MongoDB

While I mentioned MongoDB before starting the list, in case you didn’t know about it. Here’s a brief description of it:

MongoDB is a NoSQL database platform that supports ACID transactions. While it introduced the support for it later than some competitors like RavenDB, it still managed to be a popular option in the industry.

You get a free, open-source community edition and a paid version with more features. Fortunately, it offers flexible pricing plans that include a cheap serverless plan and a shared option starting free.

MongoDB has a different offering, “Realm,” to help develop, build, and release mobile applications quickly. You can explore more of its offerings on its official website.

MarkLogic Database

MarkLogic Server is a multi-model database with NoSQL capabilities. It lets you create relational views and semantic data to help with it.

You can try it free by registering for a demo or opt for the free developer edition. There are options for enterprises and cloud offerings. While the entire thing is not open-source, MarkLogic Data Hub software, which runs as a management platform for MarkLogic Server, is entirely open-source.

If you want a NoSQL database platform with the ability to store relationship data and run analytics using standard SQL, MarkLogic Database can be a good candidate.

Aerospike Database 6

Aerospike Database 6 is a multi-model NoSQL database focusing on real-time applications.

If you have massive data storage and want good scalability, Aerospike Database 6 should be a suitable alternative. It aims to keep things consistent by utilizing its distributed real-time database.

Like Couchbase, you can store data using the memory, flash, or persistent memory storage architecture to optimize for the best performance.

There are no free offerings by Aerospike. However, you can try it by reaching out to them. When it comes to paid plans, you also get managed cloud service if you need it for your project.

In addition to these industry-leading options, you can also take a look at some of the best cloud databases, including:

Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon DynamoDB is a fully managed, serverless, NoSQL database with good scalability support.

Not to mention, if you are using any of Amazon’s AWS offerings, this can be a good pick.

Azure Cosmos DB

Azure Cosmos DB is yet another fully managed NoSQL database tailored for modern app development by Microsoft.

Considering it is a serverless database service, you can use it for a variety of use-cases along with great scalability support. If you are already using Azure services, this is a no-brainer.

Datastore

Datastore is Google’s fully managed NoSQL solution. Considering a lot of modern projects tend to use various Google platform services, this could be an easy recommendation.

NoSQL Database for Your Next Modern Project

No matter what you choose among the options listed, every NoSQL platform offers a range of benefits.

You get choices of multi-model, document, graphs, search, indexes, SQL-like relation, and more. Most of the programs offer trials before you decide. And, if you want a self-hosted option, it is best to go for something that offers an open-source community edition.

If you do not want any compromises, a fully managed solution should be the way to go.

You may also read more about SQL Vs. NoSQL and which one to choose for your next project.