New capabilities will move graph databases into mainstream, says company

Neo Technology has released a new version of its Neo4J graph database, saying the improved product will move the niche way of organizing data into the mainstream.

“Neo4j 2.0 is the most substantial piece of engineering ever invested in the graph space,” CEO Emil Eifrem said in a statement. Graph databases will start becoming a tool on an equal footing with SQL and Map/Reduce for data management, he said.

Most database analysts and users are familiar with relational databases like Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server. According to a recent report by 451 Group, graph databases – which don’t use SQL — store data not only in a collection of key-value pairs, known as nodes and properties, but also the relationships – or edges –that connect nodes to other nodes, or nodes to properties.

Users can navigate – or traverse – the resulting graph by nodes, properties or edges to identify and analyze relationships between nodes and properties. “This is inherently more flexible than traditional relational database approaches that would require cross-table joins to identify relationships between multiple entities,” the report said.

“As such, graph databases provide more than just a new way of storing data. By enabling analysis of not just individual or aggregate data, but also the relationships between data, graph databases potentially provide new opportunities for generating business intelligence by highlighting new patterns in data.”

Because graph databases lets users navigate through a network of connections they have become useful for looking tracing who follows who on social media.

According to 451 Group, Neo4j’s competitors include Objectivity Inc.’s InifineGraph, YarcData’s Urika, as well as IBM’s NoSQL graph store for DB2, Oracle Spatial and Graph option for Oracle Database and Teradata’s graph analytics engine for its Aster Discovery Platform.

New features in Neo4j 2.0 include

–adding a new schema construct, labels to its data model. Labels greatly speed development, the company says, by enabling developers to tell the database more about the data, allowing the database to do more for the developer. New label features include automatic indexing and unique constraints.
–new capabilities to Cypher that make it easier to develop graph applications with one tenth the amount of code as in SQL.

– Neo4j Browser. A new interactive query environment that enables rapid prototyping of Cypher queries and visual data discovery.

The company also launched a free interactive training course for graph databases on its Web site, which offers private, on-demand training.

A day-long introductory course is scheduled for a number of cities around the world including  Vancouver on Feb. 21. It costs $99.

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