By: Philip Howard, Research Director - Data Management, Bloor Research
Published: 19th February 2014
Copyright Bloor Research © 2014
I have written about this before in general terms but I now need to clarify matters. The upsurge in interest in graphs over recent months (according to db-engines.com it has had the fastest growth in this respect over the last year) has led to lots of companies jumping into the market. This is not unusual with subjects that are flavour of the month (or year) but it leads to a great deal of confusion, because not all of the products are the same.
It was previously (more or less) the case that graph databases needed to be distinguished from RDF (resource description framework) and triple stores, where the latter were primarily designed to support the semantic web and the former for more general-purpose use. From a technical point of view the latter do not have the inferencing capabilities that are associated with the former.
However, things have become more complex as a multitude of vendors have leapt onto the graph bandwagon so that we now have different products that are aimed at different market segments and which use different underlying technologies.
There are three generic use cases for graphs (or, indeed, any other database system): CRUD (create, read, update, delete) applications that are focused on transaction processing; query processing—reporting, business intelligence and real-time analytics; and what we might call deep analytics (typically in batch mode) or data discovery. Different vendors in the graph market focus on one or more of these.
However, target markets are not the only thing that distinguishes vendors but also the underlying database technology. While there are suppliers that have a genuine graph database underlying their graph solution there are now significant numbers of vendors that do not.
Thus the market breaks down into the following groupings:
You can see how this could be (is!) confusing. Sometime in the Spring I plan to write a detailed paper or papers on the different elements of the graph market but until then you should be aware that the graph database market is by no means homogeneous and it will be important to understand exactly what any particular vendor means when refers to graphs.
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