When You Need Big Data, You need NoSQL

Your business is growing. In fact, you’ve reached the point where serious growth means serious data. For that, you turn to Big Data. But what exactly is Big Data? For some, it’s an abstract that refers to any giant corporation that uses consumer data for targeted advertising and other business tactics. 

That’s not far off from the truth. From a technical standpoint, Big Data is about using databases that are capable of handling massive troves of information. And by massive, we’re talking petabytes.

For that, you need a NoSQL database. Why? NoSQL databases are a significant step above the traditional relational databases because they deal with unstructured data, which means it’s human-readable and scalable to meet the high demands of enterprise businesses.

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NoSQL databases are purpose-built for specific data models. Instead of data being stored in relational tables, NoSQL databases store the information in a JSON document. So instead of columns and rows, a single document will contain all of the attributions for the entry. 

Let’s use a library example. Say you have a library that uses a database to store information on the books in existence. In the Books database, you could have a table for books that might include title, author, ISBN, location, and so on. The same database might have a table for authors that might include authorID, first name, and last name. You might also have an authorID table that includes authorID and ISBN.

With a NoSQL database, you could have a single record (document) that contains all of the above information. By creating entries this way, the database is optimized for efficiency, development, and scalability. Each document is contained within a collection, and unlike relational databases, NoSQL databases are very simple to use. Why? Because they are human-readable.

Comparing a NoSQL to a relational database results in the following table:

Relational Database

NoSQL Database












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Some of the features have an equal counterpart between relational databases and NoSQL databases, but the similarities end there.

You might think that NoSQL is just a name for a database. It’s not. It’s a type of database, just like relational is a type. Several databases fall into the category of NoSQL. One of the most popular is MongoDB.

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What is MongoDB?

MongoDB is a NoSQL database. It’s also open-source, free, and cross-platform. You can install MongoDB on Linux, macOS, and Windows. MongoDB was first released on February 11, 2009, by MongoDB Inc. However, the initial development was started by a company called 10gen Software in 2007. 

The original product was intended to be used as a component for a new Platform as a Service product. However, the company quickly pivoted to an open-source development model with a commercial support component. 

In 2013, 10gen Software changed its name to MongoDB Inc.

What Are the Main Features of MongoDB?

There are a number of features in MongoDB that make it an ideal database for enterprise deployments and projects. Those features include:

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    Ad-hoc queries - field, range query, and regular expression searches which can include user-defined JavaScript functions.
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    Indexing - fields within a document can be indexed with primary and secondary indices.
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    Replication - high-availability with replica sets consisting of 2 or more copies of the data.
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    Load balancing - sharding allows MongoDB to scale horizontally. MongoDB can cluster across multiple servers.
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    File storage - GridFS makes it possible to use MongoDB as a file system.
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    Aggregation - there are 3 ways MongoDB can use aggregation: The aggregation pipeline, map-reduce function, and single-purpose aggregation.
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    Server-side JavaScript execution - JavaScript can be used within queries, aggregation functions, and even sent directly to the database for execution.
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    Capped collections - fixed-sized collections that maintain insertion order and behave like a circular queue.

Where Can MongoDB Be Deployed?

MongoDB can be deployed in numerous ways. First and foremost, it can be installed and used within an on-premise data center server. But considering how you will be using this database (for massive amounts of data), chances are pretty good you’ll need the extra horsepower associated with a third-party cloud host (such as Amazon AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud). 

By deploying MongoDB to a cloud-hosted service, you can be sure your database will scale to meet the demands placed on your NoSQL database infrastructure.

What Can You Build With MongoDB?

Because of the flexibility and power of MongoDB, there’s almost no limit to what you can build with this NoSQL database, including:

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    Content management systems
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    File sharing systems
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    Metadata projects
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    Logging applications
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    Geospatial data tools
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    Authorization and profiling applications
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    Product catalogs
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    Apps that integrate large amounts of data

What Companies Use MongoDB?

Because MongoDB is one of the most popular NoSQL databases on the market, it should come as no surprise that the list of companies using this platform is significant. On that list, you’ll find large companies like Uber, Lyft, Delivery Hero, LaunchDarkly, Stack, Urban Outfitters, the city of Chicago, Forbes, and Toyota

If MongoDB is good enough for those organizations, chances are good it’ll work out just fine for you.


If your database can’t handle the growth your company is experiencing, it’s probably time for you to migrate away from relational databases and enter the world of NoSQL databases. For that, one of your best options is MongoDB. Not only is it free and open-source, but it also has a vibrant developer community where you can seek out help when problems arise.

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