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Are IBM DB2 and Oracle Database NoSQL Databases?

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The NoSQL movement has garnered a lot of attention recently. It has been built around a number of emerging highly-scalable non-relational data stores. The movement is also providing a real lease of life for smaller non-relational database vendors who have been around for a while.

Last week, I noticed an entire track for XML and XQuery sessions at the recent NoSQLNow Conference in San Jose. If XML databases and XQuery are key constituents of the NoSQL world, does that mean that IBM DB2 and Oracle Database should be included in the NoSQL movement? After all, both IBM DB2 and Oracle Database store XML data and provide XQuery interfaces. Of course, I’m not being serious here. I don’t believe that the bastions of the relational world should be included in the NoSQL community. Are native XML databases, which have been around for a while, really in the spirit of the NoSQL movement? What’s your opinion?

I believe that the boundaries of the NoSQL community are perhaps a bit looser than they should be. Essentially, absolutely everything except relational databases are being grouped under the NoSQL banner. I can understand how this has happened, but do the NoSQL community really want to dilute their message by including all of these technologies, most of which have been around for quite some time and had relatively limited traction. In the spirit of what I believe is at the genesis of the current NoSQL movement, I reckon that a NoSQL solution should have the following characteristics:
– Not be based on the relational model
– Have little or no acquisition cost
– Be designed to run on commodity hardware
– Use a distributed architecture
– Support extreme or Web-scale databases

Notice that I don’t include a characteristic based on lack of consistency. I reckon that, over time, consistency will become a characteristic of some NoSQL environments.

By the way, earlier in this blog post I referred to the XML and XQuery capabilities in IBM DB2 and Oracle Database. In case you are curious, there is a significant difference in how DB2 and Oracle Database have incorporated XML capabilities in their respective products, with Oracle essentially leveraging their existing relational infrastructure to provide several ways to store XML data, while IBM built true native XML storage capabilities into its product. In other words, DB2 is indeed a true “native XML store”. In the past, I used to blog about native XML storage over at, before handing the reigns over to Matthias Nicola. If you want a little more insight on XML support in Oracle Database, check out XML in Oracle 11g and Why Won’t Oracle Publish XML Benchmark Results for TPoX?


Written by Conor O'Mahony

August 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm

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