Meanwhile, he notes, "Our customers have a desire to stop managing many special snowflakes and converge on a single, integrated platform that provides all the new capabilities they want with the reliability and full features that they need." DataStax has been doing the same with Cassandra, as both companies expand their NoSQL footprints with support for the likes of graph databases, but also going deeper on SQL with connectors that allow SQL queries to be translated into a language that document and columnar databases can understand.
None of these efforts really speaks to NoSQL's long-term advantage over the venerable RDBMS. Everybody wants to speak SQL because that's where the primary body of skills reside, given decades of enterprise build-up around SQL queries. But the biggest benefit of NoSQL, and the one that RDBMSes have failed to master, according to Stirman, is its distributed architecture.
Jared Rosoff, chief technologist of Cloud Native Apps at VMware, underlines this point: "Even if all the databases converged on SQL as query language, the NoSQL crowd benefits from a fundamentally distributed architecture that is hard for legacy engines to replace." He continues, "How long is it going to get MySQL or Postgres or Oracle or SQL Server to support a 100-node distributed cluster?"
Though both the RDBMS and NoSQL camps have their challenges with convergence, "It's way easier for the NoSQL crowd to become more SQL-like than it is for the SQL crowd to become more distributed" and "a fully SQL compliant database that doesn't scale that well" will be inferior to "a fully distributed database that supports only some subset of SQL."
In short, SQL is very useful but replaceable. Distributed computing in our big data world, quite frankly, is not.
Winner take some
In this world of imperfect convergence, NoSQL seems to have the winning hand. But which NoSQL vendor will ultimately dominate?
Early momentum goes to MongoDB and DataStax-fueled Cassandra, but Stirman suggests a different winner entirely:
What the market really wants is an open source database that is easy to use and flexible like MongoDB, scales like Cassandra, is battle hardened like Oracle, all without changing their security and tooling. MongoDB is best positioned to deliver this, but AWS is most likely to capture the market long term.
Yes, AWS, the same company that most threatens to own the Hadoop market, not to mention enterprise infrastructure generally. Amazon, the dominant force in the public cloud, is best positioned to capitalize on the enterprise shift toward the cloud and the distributed applications that live there. Database convergence, in sum, may ultimately be Bezos' game to lose.