What Type of Database Is Used for Big Data?


Heather Bennett

In the world of big data, selecting the right database is crucial. With massive volumes of data being generated every second, traditional databases often fall short in terms of scalability and performance. This has led to the emergence of specialized databases that are designed to handle big data efficiently.

Relational Databases

Relational databases have been the backbone of data management for decades. They organize data into tables with predefined schemas, making them easy to query and analyze. However, when it comes to big data, relational databases may struggle due to their rigid structure and limited scalability.

NoSQL Databases

To overcome the limitations of relational databases, NoSQL databases have gained popularity in the realm of big data. NoSQL stands for “not only SQL” and refers to a variety of database systems that offer flexible schemas and horizontal scalability.

  • Document Databases: Document databases store data in JSON-like documents, allowing for flexible schemas and efficient handling of semi-structured and unstructured data.
  • Graph Databases: Graph databases excel at managing highly interconnected data by representing relationships between entities as nodes and edges.
  • Columnar Databases: Columnar databases store data in columns rather than rows, enabling fast queries and analysis on specific subsets of columns.
  • Key-Value Stores: Key-value stores are simple yet powerful databases that store data as key-value pairs, providing fast access to individual records.

NewSQL Databases

As big data continues to grow exponentially, there is a need for databases that combine the best aspects of both relational and NoSQL databases. This is where NewSQL databases come into play. NewSQL databases aim to provide the scalability and flexibility of NoSQL databases while retaining the ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) properties of traditional relational databases.

Big Data Frameworks

In addition to specialized databases, big data frameworks have emerged as a powerful tool for processing and analyzing large datasets. These frameworks, such as Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark, provide a distributed computing environment that can handle massive amounts of data across clusters of commodity hardware.


Apache Hadoop is an open-source framework that allows for distributed storage and processing of big data. It consists of two main components: the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) for storing data across multiple machines, and MapReduce for processing large-scale datasets in parallel.


Apache Spark is another popular big data processing framework that offers fast in-memory computation capabilities. It provides APIs for various programming languages and supports a wide range of data sources, making it versatile for different big data use cases.

As the volume and complexity of big data continue to increase, selecting the right database becomes crucial. Whether you choose a NoSQL database, a NewSQL database, or opt for a big data framework like Hadoop or Spark depends on your specific requirements. By understanding these options and their capabilities, you can ensure efficient storage and processing of your big data projects.

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