Big Data – Operational Databases Supporting Big Data – Columnar, Graph and Spatial Database – Day 14 of 21

In yesterday’s blog post we learned the importance of the Key-Value Pair Databases and Document Databases in the Big Data Story. In this article we will understand the role of Columnar, Graph and Spatial Database supporting Big Data Story.

Now we will see a few of the examples of the operational databases.

  • Relational Databases (The day before yesterday’s post)
  • NoSQL Databases (The day before yesterday’s post)
  • Key-Value Pair Databases (Yesterday’s post)
  • Document Databases (Yesterday’s post)
  • Columnar Databases (Tomorrow’s post)
  • Graph Databases (Today’s post)
  • Spatial Databases (Today’s post)

Columnar Databases 

Relational Database is a row store database or a row oriented database. Columnar databases are column oriented or column store databases. As we discussed earlier in Big Data we have different kinds of data and we need to store different kinds of data in the database. When we have columnar database it is very easy to do so as we can just add a new column to the columnar database. HBase is one of the most popular columnar databases. It uses Hadoop file system and MapReduce for its core data storage. However, remember this is not a good solution for every application. This is particularly good for the database where there is high volume incremental data is gathered and processed.

Graph Databases

For a highly interconnected data it is suitable to use Graph Database. This database has node relationship structure. Nodes and relationships contain a Key Value Pair where data is stored. The major advantage of this database is that it supports faster navigation among various relationships. For example, Facebook uses a graph database to list and demonstrate various relationships between users. Neo4J is one of the most popular open source graph database. One of the major dis-advantage of the Graph Database is that it is not possible to self-reference (self joins in the RDBMS terms) and there might be real world scenarios where this might be required and graph database does not support it.

Spatial Databases 

We all use Foursquare, Google+ as well Facebook Check-ins for location aware check-ins. All the location aware applications figure out the position of the phone with the help of Global Positioning System (GPS). Think about it, so many different users at different location in the world and checking-in all together. Additionally, the applications now feature reach and users are demanding more and more information from them, for example like movies, coffee shop or places see. They are all running with the help of Spatial Databases. Spatial data are standardize by the Open Geospatial Consortium known as OGC. Spatial data helps answering many interesting questions like “Distance between two locations, area of interesting places etc.” When we think of it, it is very clear that handing spatial data and returning meaningful result is one big task when there are millions of users moving dynamically from one place to another place & requesting various spatial information. PostGIS/OpenGIS suite is very popular spatial database. It runs as a layer implementation on the RDBMS PostgreSQL. This makes it totally unique as it offers best from both the worlds.

Big Data - Operational Databases Supporting Big Data - Columnar, Graph and Spatial Database - Day 14 of 21 big-data-ls
Courtesy: mushroom network


In tomorrow’s blog post we will discuss about very important components of the Big Data Ecosystem – Hive.

Reference: Pinal Dave (

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