Free and Open Source NoSQL Databases. When Free Isn’t Really Free
Published on Sep 08, 2021

Free and Open Source NoSQL Databases. When Free Isn’t Really Free

An open source NoSQL database isn’t always free. It might come with limitations, exclusions or licensing requirements. Learn when free isn’t really free. 

Free and Open Source NoSQL Databases. When Free Isn’t Really Free

Open source NoSQL databases are not truly free. While the code base is readily available, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right foundation for your application. And if that’s the case, that free NoSQL database could end up costing you a great deal.

In many cases, open source code is simply enough to get you started. A great example of this is WordPress. While the platform is a free, open source option, you’ll still need to layer on some paid resources, such as a custom template and custom functionality.

WordPress offers no support to its customers. It simply hands off the product and allows developers around the world to render services that help companies outfit the website code to meet their needs. 

So while the codebase is free, you’ll end up paying a WordPress developer to complete your website project and perhaps require ongoing support to manage the website. Therefore, free isn’t really free.

Open source NoSQL databases are similar situations. While you can readily download this code, you’ll still need to outfit it to meet your needs and paying for a subscription that includes support can help ensure your success with the database.

What is Open Source Software?

Open source software is free and can be available for commercial products, though you do need to check the licensing agreement. These codebases also might allow for changes to meet your business needs. 

But not all open source software licenses and agreements work the same. You must know about your license agreement, who can use the software and what you’re agreeing to when you download it.

What You Need to Know About an Open Source NoSQL Database

There’s a common misconception that open source and free are interchangeable terms. They are not and we’ll explain why. Even though open source often looks free, it carries some costs with it and those costs could exceed what it would have cost your organization to pay for a NoSQL database subscription.

Here are some key points you need to know about a free NoSQL database online.

  • Open source databases are not necessarily free 
  • Many open source databases exclude parts of the codebase without a paying subscription
  • Some open source license agreements have commercial use exclusions or limitations
  • Open source licenses can carry serious restrictions

Open Source Vs. Free: Key Differences

Open source and free are not interchangeable terms in most cases. The term open source means that the user may view the source code. That does not always mean that the user can adapt the source code to meet their needs or iterate on it in any way.

In contrast, free software provides the opportunity to copy, change, improve, distribute or run the software without restrictions. 

Free software code is often open source code because it requires that users be able to view and modify the source code. Therefore, free databases are generally open source, but open source databases are not truly free. There is a distinct difference between the two.

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Open Source Exclusions Without Paying Subscription

Some open source databases exclude parts of the code or functionality without a paying subscription. While you’ll have some code to get started, you might end up spending more time and money on updating the code to meet your needs than you would to buy the full NoSQL database subscription. 

Open Source Commercial Use Exclusions/Limitations

Many open source databases have exclusions and limitations for use unless you pay for a subscription. If you use it wrong, you could face having to go back and pay for the subscription to continue using it. Therefore, ultimately, you’d be better off paying for it from the start.

BangDB offers its NoSQL database for free, but it does have limited use constraints without a paying subscription.

Open Source Restrictions

Some open source codebases restrict how you can modify the code. That means that you’re left to adapt your application to meet the preset format and requirements of the so-called free NoSQL database. It should be the other way around where you modify the database to meet your application needs.

The restrictions to make changes to the code could mean you get into application development and need to change databases midway through due to it not being adaptable enough to meet your needs.

Understanding Key Terms in NoSQL Databases

Although NoSQL databases have been around for several years now, some terminology is still foreign to people who have only used relational databases. As you review agreements and licenses for a database, get to know some key terms to evaluate whether an open source database is right for you.

open source NoSQL database

Properties of NoSQL:

  • Dynamic schema: is flexible, meaning you can add new columns or data at any time. NoSQL databases have no strict data type enforcement for columns. If you’re expecting frequent data changes throughout the lifecycle of your application, this flexibility will be especially helpful.
  • Data variety: store any type of data in a NoSQL database. This includes structured, unstructured and semi-structured data. Store files, images, logs, videos, graphs, JSON, or XML files without pre-processing or ETL. 
  • High availability cluster: store your data within commodity hardware with horizontal scalability. That means that you can easily add servers to your application to scale up to meet your needs. 

What is NoSQL?

NoSQL stands for not only SQL, which is why you can use these databases to house structured, unstructured and semi-structured data together in one place. 

You can retrieve the data using SQL or other means. To do so, the databases use developer-friendly API interfaces to perform DML and CRUD operations. You can execute these operations using various programming languages.

Types of NoSQL Databases

When evaluating your database needs, you’ll want to consider the type of NoSQL database you need. There are several different types and some databases support multi-model approaches, such as BangDB. This helps bring various types of data together. 

  • Key-value: these databases allow users to store data in simple formats where the key helps you retrieve the value from the database table. This format is similar to a relational database in that it works with value pairs. 
  • Column: is different from a traditional relational database column format. That’s because it enables you to add more columns at any time and for your table to be wider than what’s available in a relational database. You can create column families and super columns and distribute columns sparsely. 
  • Graph: contains nodes and relations to create a more intricate data store. That way you can manipulate the data and show relationships.
  • Document: store semi-structured data in Word documents, JSON, YAML or XML. You can organize your documents inside tables to retrieve them quickly.

Is an Open Source NoSQL Database Right for Me?

Determining the right NoSQL database to meet your needs means digging deep into project requirements and understanding licensing. If you’re unsure about how to find the right database for your needs, contact us. We’ll work with you to determine the best format for your data.


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