Quest Software has posted a free beta version of a software program that will allow database administrators and developers to better understand what is stored in non-relational databases.
"For certain classes of applications, a non-SQL model is perfectly valid, and in a cloud-computing environment, it [can be] necessary. But there are a number of problems that have to be solved for enterprise adoption," said Guy Harrison, who is the director of research and development for Quest.
Toad for Cloud Databases, a version of the company's popular Toad line of database administrative tools, posted on Wednesday, can be used to query data on non-SQL databases using SQL queries.
The software can also be used to bridge non-relational databases -- also referred to as NoSQL databases -- and relational databases: The software can migrate data to and from different databases and run queries across multiple databases, either relational or non-relational.
The software would be particularly useful in querying NoSQL databases for purposes of business intelligence, Harrison said.
NoSQL databases have been an appealing alternative to standard relational databases due to both their ease of use and their ability to be set up across multiple servers, which can aid in cloud-based deployments. But working with them can be a novel experience for the typical database administrator, who is steeped in the language of SQL. NoSQL databases typically offer application programming interfaces as a way to work with their data.
"The DBA doesn't want to spend several days writing a Java program," in order to extract data from a non-relational database via API calls, Harrison said. With Toad for Cloud Databases, the user can write a SQL statement, and the software converts that query to the necessary API to pull the data from the NoSQL database.
Although primarily designed for relational databases, SQL can be a perfectly suitable query language for interrogating non-relational databases as well, Harrison said.
"NoSQL is such a poor term," he said. SQL wasn't the bottleneck in distributed relational databases. The bottleneck resided in the way these databases accessed their files, he explained.
"The whole transactional model was holding back the development of large-scale distributed databases. That was what the NoSQL crowd was trying to avoid, and unfortunately the SQL language got caught up into the middle of it, and it had nothing to do with it," he said
Toad for Cloud Databases works with the Apache HBase and the Amazon SimpleDB NoSQL databases, as well as with the Azure Table service, a cloud-based non-relational database offered by Microsoft. It also works with all relational databases that use Open Database Connectivity (ODBC).
In time, the company plans to also add for the software to work with other non-relational databases, including Apache Cassandra and Apache Hadoop. The company is also preparing a version that can be run as an Eclipse plug-in.