Google is doing more SQL, or at least shifting towards relational SQL databases as a way of storing data. At least, some of their engineers see this as a better way to store data for many problems. Since I’m a relational database advocate, I found this to be interesting.

When Google first started to publish information on BigTable and other new ways of dealing with large amounts of data, I felt that these weren’t solutions I’d use or problems that many people had. The idea of Map Reduce is interesting and certainly applicable to the problem space Google had of a global database of sites, but that’s not a problem I’ve ever encountered. Instead, most of the struggles I’ve had with relational systems are still better addressed in a relational system.

Google feels the same way, and in a blog, they talk about choosing strong consistency where possible. This is a post that promotes their relational SQL database (Cloud Spanner), but there is a good discussion of why consistency matters and where moving to popular NoSQL models, like eventual consistency, cause a lot of problems. Both for developers and clients.

This quote caught me eye, and I may use this with developers that look to avoid RDBMS systems: “Put another way, data stores that provide transactions and consistency across the entire dataset by default lead to fewer bugs, fewer headaches and easier-to-maintain application code.” I think that’s true as I think many of the advantages promoted in non-RDBMS systems are often placing a greater burden on the application developer than they realize. A burden that grows over time as the techniques used cause more technical debt.

I think more SQL based systems are the way to go for many problem domains. Google agrees, and if you read more about the Cloud Spanner team, you might agree as well. You’ll also find them to be incredibly smart people that think deeply about the problems that are both raised and solved by relational systems.

So go ahead and promote more SQL Server databases. Google thinks they’re good for many applications, and that’s good enough for most developers.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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