Monday, January 15, 2018

Whither NoSQL

When I first started the NoSQL NYC meetup back in 2010, it was the first NoSQL group of its kind on The reasoning for creating the group was not because I was an expert on the subject, it was because I knew nothing. How can I learn more? So many new database types were being released around this time. Hadoop started small in 2006, CouchDB became an Apache subproject in 2008 and MongoDB was released in 2009. Developers looking to move beyond whatever limitations they had with SQL databases now had choices. However, developers experienced in these technogies were few, so the meetup was created to bring like-minded people together.

By the time I hosted my last meetup before moving to California almost two years later, group membership was over a thousand of these like-minded developers. Interest was high and events were full. Document stores, graph databases, distributed filesystems, not a line of SQL in sight.

It was sad to leave the group behind, but it was left in the capable hands of a new organizer. Not long after, the number of meetups began to dwindle. It saddened me even more that the group I created and grew over those two years was being neglected. Should I have picked a different organizer? Should I have maintained an active role in organizing? The truth is that the new organizer was not negligent in his duties, but simply that NoSQL became the new norm. There was a better chance that a new startup was using MongoDB than MySQL. The need to lump all these new databases under one convienient term was no longer needed.

NoSQL was never against the SQL syntax, but simply an alternative to relational databases. Over time, even though the software development world fully embraced these new concepts, the term NoSQL simply went away. You will hear references to the CAP theorem, to eventual consistency, to document stores, but not NoSQL.

While the name is gone, the spirit will continue. Thanks for the memories.

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