MongoDB or MS SQL: Which is Right for Your Business?

Are you considering MongoDB over Microsoft’s SQL Server? Knowing which database is better suited for you depends on your storage needs, whether fault-tolerance is vital for your system, or if you support agile software development. We’ll be exploring these key areas, so you’ll become capable of making the best possible database decision for your infrastructure needs.

Differing Data Storage Models

The primary difference between MongoDB and SQL Server is found within their data models. In contrast to a relational database, MongoDB does not support join statements or enforce referential integrity between data structures. In place of the table and rows common to MS SQL Server, MongoDB uses collections of JSON documents.
With the simplicity of MongoDB documents, data retrieval and updates are performant, even when over a billion records are being handled. On the other hand, with support for transactions and joins, SQL Server is ideal for storing highly relational information, such as financial data.

Vertical vs. Horizontal Scaling

MS SQL Server favors horizontal scaling. By increasing the computing power of a server, SQL Server can meet higher I/O and storage demand. MongoDB favors horizontal scaling by design through the use of server clusters. Instead of adding resources to an individual server node, you add additional MongoDB nodes. Essentially, SQL Server is more difficult to scale for big data or extremely high I/O, and MongoDB is built to be tolerant of multiple server failures and to sort & process enormous amounts of data. The caveat is that MongoDB clusters introduce greater IT infrastructure complexities.

The Difference Between Query Statements

MS SQL Server uses SQL for data retrieval and persistence. It’s the query language common amongst relational databases, whereas MongoDB supports an ad-hoc query syntax that is modeled after JSON. While MongoDB is commonly labeled a “NoSQL” database, this is fairly misleading, as it supports conditional and select statements that function quite similar to SQL. Since MongoDB uses a non-relation data structure in combination with a JSON like query language, it’s a database that is better suited for agile development. To illustrate this, here’s how the syntax for creating a table differs between SQL Server and MongoDB:

For a more complete overview of MongoDB’s query language versus SQL, check this out.

SQL Sever and MongoDB differ greatly, but one database is not necessarily superior to the other. Both databases are brilliantly engineered for specific use cases, the key is understanding each one’s fundamental strengths and weaknesses, and which one works best for your business’ specific data architecture.

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