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Appendix A. The Nonrelational Landscape

Cassandra is one of many new nonrelational database projects that have sprung up recently, and in order to understand their goals and the designs that have been shaped by those goals, it may prove useful to take a step back and understand what these different projects are about.

Note

We’ve lately become familiar with the term “NoSQL” to describe a set of databases that don’t use SQL. I have been using the term “nonrelational” in acknowledgment that these databases are frequently grouped together in the popular imagination. But part of the point of this appendix is to illustrate that we probably should stop talking this way. It is specious to compare NoSQL databases to relational databases; as you’ll see, none of the so-called “NoSQL” databases have the same implementation, goals, features, advantages, and disadvantages. So comparing “NoSQL” to “relational” is really a shell game.

So in this appendix we review a variety of popular nonrelational databases. Cassandra does certain things very, very well. It does other things less well. So my aim here is to help you understand Cassandra’s place in the constellation of competing nonrelational databases so that you are best armed to make the right choice of database for your needs. If you already know that you want to employ Cassandra, this survey should still prove useful in understanding some of the design decisions and trade-offs made in Cassandra.

Nonrelational Databases

Of course the world is full ...

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