Do you wish to understand how NoSQL Databases like MongoDB and SQL Databases are different from each other? Do you wish to know the various factors that drive the MongoDB vs SQL Database decision? If yes, then you’ve come to the right place.

Any application or system dealing with large amounts of data comes with the need for robust database support that can facilitate all the requirements of the system. While SQL Databases have been a popular choice for the implementation of a wide range of database applications using Structured Query Language, the focus of it remains centered on the robust functioning of Web Databases. 

However, there are some limitations of SQL Databases that have been observed over the years which are overcome with NoSQL Database options such as MongoDB. MongoDB offers faster query processing but with an increased load and system requirements.

Without knowing the purpose of use, it is not possible to classify SQL Databases or NoSQL Databases like MongoDB as better or worse than the other. There are various factors that drive the MongoDB vs SQL decision.

For simple use and limited system offerings, SQL might be more suitable whereas if your system fulfills the prerequisites and optimized querying is desired, you might rely on a NoSQL Database like MongoDB. This article will help you explore the fundamentals of MongoDB and SQL Databases along with a comparative analysis of some significant use case features.

Introduction to MongoDB

MongoDB logo

MongoDB is a very popular open-source Document Database that operates as a NoSQL database. It is popularly used in collaboration with AWS, Azure, and many other data sources for application development and functioning. Allowing the storage and querying of high volumes of data, it offers the following robust features:

  • Better query executions with proper indexing and processing features.
  • Real-time analytics and optimized data handling with the use of ad-hoc queries.
  • Improved data availability and flexibility with robust replication features.
  • Data Sharding allows the splitting of large data chunks for a distributed and faster query execution process.
MongoDB Industry and IoT Based Use
MongoDB Industry and IoT Based Use
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More information on MongoDB can be found here.

Introduction to SQL Databases

SQL Logo

SQL Databases are typically Relational Database services that are popularly used for the deployment of Cloud applications. Along with high-performance analytics, they offer various features for accessing, appending, managing, and processing data within the database.

A SQL Database stands out owing to its ease of use, robust classification features, and unhindered reliability as a Database System. 

Some prominent SQL Database features are as follows:

  • On-demand scalability along with comprehensive and reliable transactional support for businesses.
  • Increased workflow control and easy analysis of structured data in a flexible open-source environment.
  • It is free to download and implements a straightforward client-server architecture for operation.
  • It offers a solid data security layer that helps maintain the integrity of data while also protecting sensitive data from infiltration. 
Performance Monitoring SQL
Performance Monitoring as observed in MySQL, a SQL Database
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More information on SQL and Relational Databases can be found here.

SQL vs NoSQL Databases

SQL vs NoSQL – A Database is a Relational Database and uses structured data. It typically uses the Structured Query Language and implements storage in the standardized Information Storage Language. Thus, a SQL Database offers great accessibility and consistency in terms of storage and query handling.

NoSQL Databases such as MongoDB, on the other hand, are Non-relational and utilize unstructured data to be able to store and process non-similar data sets that are associated with each other.

Thus, NoSQL Databases offers fewer restrictions and more flexibility with the use of dissimilar fields within a collection. However, one must have a better coding proficiency to be able to implement the same.

An in-depth comparison of Relational and NoSQL Databases can be found here.

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Factors that Drive the MongoDB vs SQL Decision

To begin with the comparison, MongoDB is a Non-relational Database while SQL is a Relational Database. While MongoDB supports JSON querying, a SQL Database uses SQL query processing.

The basic characteristics make MongoDB a more dynamic and complex option that is fit for hierarchical data while a SQL Database remains more predefined and suited for other kinds of data storage. 

Following are some aspects where some use case contrasts can be observed in MongoDB vs SQL Databases:

1) MongoDB vs SQL: History

Development of MongoDB began in early 2007 when the company was designing a platform-as-a-service similar to Microsoft Azure. A New York-based company 10gen, which is now renamed MongoDB Inc was working on this software.

The Initial development focused on creating the PaaS. (Platform as a Service), but later in 2009 MongoDB was launched to the market as an open-source database server and is supported by the organization itself. In March 2010, the first production-ready version 1.4 was released. The latest and stable version of MongoDB is version 2.4.9, released on January 10, 2014.

There are numerous versions available for SQL. The original version of SQL was developed at the IBM San Jose Research Laboratory (now known as the Almaden Research Center). Initially, the language was called Sequel, in the early 1970s, it was implemented as part of the R project. Since then, the sequel language was developed, and gradually its name was changed to SQL.

In 1986, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) published SQL as an updated standard 1992. The final ISO standard for SQL was published in 2008 and named SQL: 2008.SQL has established itself as the standard language for relational databases.

2) MongoDB vs SQL: Storage of Data

Data storage is the primary function of a database and how your data is stored becomes significant when fetching and querying is considered. 

In MongoDB, all individual records are stored as documents which are collections of fields with a dynamic schema. Here, each collection need not have the same set of fields which makes it more flexible than RDBMS. 

In SQL Databases, records are stored in rows within a table which limits dynamic classification and storage of hierarchical data. However, SQL Relational data can be matched using common characteristics simplistically which can be beneficial depending upon your use case.

3) MongoDB vs SQL: Representation, Reliability, and Accessibility

The difference in the way data is represented and interpreted in each makes a significant difference. MongoDB stores data in JSON format with key and value pairs for each entity whereas SQL Databases stores data as a record in a row of the table. 

The representation of the storage of a single entity in the databases can be seen as follows:

MongoDB Document

name: ”Perry”,
age: 20,
contact: {
mobile: ”+91-9273723723”,
home_address: ”perry street”

SQL Databases Record

Name 	   age		contact-mobile		home-address
Perry	   20		9273723723		perry street

While data is easily accessible and classifiable with a SQL Database, there are certain limitations to what can be stored and processed together. MongoDB uses a more complex approach to data storage while allowing complex processing as well. The data representation indicates that NoSQL doesn’t support any relations between different data types.

While MongoDB is more flexible and ensures high and diverse data availability, a SQL Database operates with the ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability) properties and ensures greater reliability of transactions. 

4) MongoDB vs SQL: Scalability and Replication

Now coming to one of the most important factors that are crucial for businesses and organizations – the scalability and replication functions for wider access. It cannot be said that one of these is more scalable than the other unless the use case is determined. 

SQL Databases facilitate Vertical Scaling, that is Scaling Up. You can scale up the RAM, CPU, and SSD capacities to upscale and add functionalities to your setup. While this can add some significant factors, it cannot be used to alter the framework and is restricted on that front. It facilitates easy data insertion and uses Slave and Master data replication. 

MongoDB, on the other hand, would be better for Horizontal Scaling or Scaling Out. It is, therefore, preferred by those constantly looking to improve their frameworks, add more servers and expand their storage and set up. This process, known as Sharding, allows dealing with more flexible data and requires more detailed informational indexes and system capacities. Sharding is easily facilitated with MongoDB along with the use of Replica Sets for extending multiple copies of data for accessibility.

Scaling MongoDB vs SQL
Scaling in MongoDB vs SQL Databases
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This article provided you with an in-depth understanding of MongoDB and SQL Databases and various factors that drive the MongoDB vs SQL Database decision.

In conclusion, it is fair to say that a SQL Database is more suited for businesses and industries that deal with structured and Relational data. It is great for websites with high traffic and facilitates a high-performing query engine. Data insertions, specialized web functions, quick processing, and robust reliability are some of the best features offered by SQL Databases. 

MongoDB can be used by businesses and organizations of all sizes who are looking to scale out huge volumes of traffic as well as data. If you desire great speed and certain flexibility with the use of unstructured data within a schemaless environment, MongoDB is your go-to. 

An element of automation with these databases can improve the functionality of your system even further and this is where Hevo saves the day!

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Hevo Data offers a faster way to move data from 100+ data sources such as SaaS applications or Databases such as MongoDB, Oracle, etc. into your Data Warehouse to be visualized in a BI tool. Hevo is fully automated and hence does not require you to code.

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Share your understanding of MongoDB vs SQL discussion in the comments section!

Nitin Birajdar
Lead Customer Experience Engineer

Nitin, a seasoned professional with 9 years of experience, excels in ETL, Data Engineering, SAAS, and AI as a Customer Experience Lead. His expertise drives innovation and excellence, ensuring optimal solutions for diverse data challenges.

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