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NoSQL Database Design

NoSQL Database Design Definition

NoSQL Database Design is the process of planning a database structure that optimizes application data access. Database design takes into account the frequency of changes to the dataset, the amount of data to be stored, as well as requirements for availability, performance, and consistency.

NoSQL Database Design FAQs

How to Design a NoSQL Database?

Designing a NoSQL database begins with selecting the right type of database for a given application. NoSQL database types span key-value stores, wide-column stores, document databases, and graph databases. Some NoSQL databases offer multi-model capabilities that support several data models simultaneously. A multi-model database is a good choice for projects that may be required to incorporate different data models as business requirements evolve.

Where to Start NoSQL Database Schema Design?

Being non-relational, NoSQL databases are more flexible than relational SQL databases. NoSQL databases do not define schema in the same way as relational databases, making NoSQL more adaptable to changes to the data model. That said, NoSQL Database Design still requires data architects and developers to plan the objects that will be stored and queried.

A key advantage of NoSQL databases is their orientation towards workload-based data modeling. The design of a NoSQL database ultimately reflects the types of queries required by the applications. Designers can begin by defining the keys and indexes that will enable applications to efficiently query the data. The flexibility of NoSQL data modeling ensures that changes can be made throughout the process, as new requirements emerge. In this way, NoSQL database design supports iterative application lifecycle development practices.

What’s a Good NoSQL Database Design Process?

NoSQL Database Design emphasizes access patterns over abstract data models. Therefore, best practices for NoSQL database design requires an understanding of the ways in which applications will query the data and the workloads that need to be supported.

When getting started with NoSQL database design, first catalog the business data entities that are to be accessed. Unlike a relational database, a NoSQL database can use the same column family to store a variety of different object types; NoSQL doesn’t require the same columns for all rows. By cataloging the business data entities, data architects and application developers think through all the ways each entity will be queried.

A modern approach to NoSQL database design leverages user stories. Different types of users will consume application features in different ways. Users who enter and modify data will access the entities in a different way than the user searching for specific records. Users who query for aggregated reports, machine learning, and big data analytics will query the data in other ways.

Once the user stories have been fleshed out, data architects and developers define common query patterns, paying particular attention to the fields expected to be most commonly queried. These fields are candidates for primary key columns or indexes. Primary keys provide the fastest lookup, so an ideal primary key is a value that has meaning in the business domain, and also provides uniqueness.

What Are NoSQL Database Design Best Practices for Growth?

NoSQL databases are designed above all to scale easily, providing high availability and low latency. One of the benefits of the loose schema requirements of NoSQL databases is the ability to add columns as the dataset grows. Data architects and operators can plan for growth by partitioning data in a way that distributes the load across available nodes.

One way to support data distribution is to divide data into logical partitions. Choose a partition key that requires minimal cross-partition queries, is unlikely to change over time, and that distributes queries evenly across partitions. For example, date-based partitions may result in so-called ‘hot partitions’ (extreme traffic loads on partitions for recent dates), while older partitions are virtually unused.

What Are Good NoSQL Database Design Tools?

Some options for a NoSQL database schema design tool include Hackolade, DbSchema, and Cassandra Data Modeler. Hackolade provides visual schema design for a wide array of NoSQL database types. DbSchema reverse-engineers schemas from existing NoSQL databases. Most NoSQL database design tools will work for a subset of NoSQL databases.

Many tools work across a variety of compatible databases. ScyllaDB, for example, is compatible with both Cassandra and DynamoDB, for example, so most tools that work with either of those databases will work with ScyllaDB also.

How Does ScyllaDB Support NoSQL Database Design?

ScyllaDB is compatible with both Apache Cassandra and Amazon DynamoDB, offering compatibility with the large selection of tools available for those databases. ScyllaDB is a multi-mode database, which means you can configure it for something as simple as a key-value store, but later expand to use other features of a wide-column store or a document database.

ScyllaDB supports NoSQL Database Design principles and best practices, and provides a rich online library of examples for those looking to learn NoSQL database design from scratch.

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