Non-Relational Databases

Non-Relational Databases Overview

What are Non-Relational Databases?

Non-relational databases do not use the rows/columns table format of relational databases. They have different and varying frameworks of storing and modeling data. By relaxing certain rules these databases provide increased scalability and availability. The term “non-relational database” is sometimes used synonymously with NoSQL databases. Document-oriented databases, key-value databases, object databases and graph databases are non-relational databases.

Non-relational databases grew in popularity due to their ability to meet the aggressive scaling needs of web applications appearing on popular websites (e.g. social media). They also are suited to support Big Data applications with their high throughput of unstructured data. Non-relational databases can also store data in memory for persistence, to more easily read this fast-moving data. Finally, popular non-relational databases are open source and present little or no upfront cost, and no licensing fees.

Non-Relational Database Features & Capabilities

Notable capabilities and advantages of non-relational database are:

  • Can be purpose-built to specific data models

  • “Tableless” and opaque data storage

  • Can manage unstructured or multi-structured data

  • No need for a predefined schema

  • Better manage abstract data

  • Support graph data modeling

  • Support document-oriented data store

  • Less strict consistency (e.g. eventual consistency) models

  • Better operational performance

  • Require fewer computing resources

  • More horizontal and vertical scalability

Pricing Information

Many non-relational databases are open source and available free without a license. Non-relational databases also provide more flexible data center budgeting. Adding or removing servers need not create downtime. Scalability and availability are their greatest advantages. Non-relational databases can also be deployed across cheaper, commodified servers relative to their RDBMS counterparts.

Non-Relational Databases Products

(1-25 of 43) Sorted by Most Reviews

IBM Cloud Databases

IBM Cloud Databases

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IBM Cloud Databases are open source data stores for enterprise application development. Built on a Kubernetes foundation, they offer a database platform for serverless applications. They are designed to scale storage and compute resources seamlessly without being constrained by the…

Key Features

  • Automated backups (82)
  • Database scalability (80)
  • Monitoring and metrics (81)


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Couchbase provides a cloud database that offers the capabilities required for business-critical applications on a scalable and available platform. Couchbase is built on open standards, and aims to combine the best of NoSQL with the power and familiarity of SQL in order to simplify…

Key Features

  • Availability (78)
  • Performance (79)
  • Concurrency (77)

MongoDB (from "humongous") is an open source document-oriented database system developed and supported by 10gen. It is part of the NoSQL family of database systems. Instead of storing data in tables as is done in a "classical" relational database, MongoDB stores structured data as…

Key Features

  • Availability (36)
  • Performance (36)
  • Concurrency (36)
IBM Cloudant

Cloudant is an open source non-relational, distributed database service that requires zero-configuration. It's based on the Apache-backed CouchDB project and the creator of the open source BigCouch project. Cloudant's service provides integrated data management, search, and analytics…

Key Features

  • Availability (12)
  • Performance (12)
  • Concurrency (12)
Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon DynamoDB

Starting Price $0

Amazon DynamoDB is a NoSQL database, from Amazon Web Services.

Key Features

  • Availability (24)
  • Security (24)
  • Performance (24)
Apache Cassandra

Cassandra is a no-SQL database from Apache.

InterSystems IRIS

InterSystems IRIS

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InterSystems IRIS is a complete cloud-first data platform that includes a multi-model transactional data management engine, an application development platform, and interoperability engine, and an open analytics platform. InterSystems IRIS provides a set of APIs to operate with…

Key Features

  • Performance optimization tools (15)
  • Database change management (15)
  • Test data generation (15)
Apache HBase

The Apache HBase project's goal is the hosting of very large tables -- billions of rows X millions of columns -- atop clusters of commodity hardware. Apache HBase is an open-source, distributed, versioned, non-relational database modeled after Google's Bigtable.


Neo4j is an open source embeddable graph database developed by Neo Technologies based in San Mateo, California with an office in Sweden.

InterSystems Caché

InterSystems Cache is a database management system (DBMS) and non-relational database.

Amazon ElastiCache

Amazon ElastiCache offers fully managed Redis and Memcached.

Google Cloud Datastore

Google Cloud Datastore is a NoSQL "schemaless" database as a service, supporting diverse data types. The database is managed; Google manages sharding and replication and prices according to storage and activity.

Oracle Berkeley DB

Oracle Berkeley DB is an embedded or non-relational database management option originally developed by Sleepycat Software.


Titan is an open-source distributed graph database developed by Aurelius. Aurelius is now part of Datastax (since February 2015).


IBM IMS, for Information Management System, is a database and transaction server.

Teradata Aster Database

Teradata offers the Aster Database, an analytic database platform.

Percona Server for MongoDB

Percona Server for MongoDB is a free and open-source drop-in replacement for MongoDB Community Edition. It combines all the features and benefits of MongoDB Community Edition with enterprise-class features from Percona. Built on the MongoDB Community Edition, Percona Server for MongoDB…

Amazon DocumentDB (with MongoDB compatibility)

Amazon DocumentDB (with MongoDB compatibility) is presented by the vendor as a fast, scalable, highly available, and fully managed document database service that supports MongoDB workloads. As a document database, Amazon DocumentDB is designed to make it easy to store, query, and…

Amazon SimpleDB

Amazon SimpleDB is a non-relational data store and service.


Sparksee is a graph database from Sparsity Technologies headquartered in Barcelona.


Matisse is a non-relational database, from small company Matisse Software.

webMethods Tamino

webMethods Tamino was an information management platform based on native XML and supported by Software AG.

Versant FastObjects

Versant FastObjects, now supported by Actian, is a transactional object client-server database.

db4o (discontinued)

db4o (database for objects) is an embeddable open source object database supported by Actian. However, Actian no longer promotes db4o's commercial version to new customers.


Stardog from Complexible in Washington, DC is a graph database.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is a non-relational database a good choice?

Non-relational databases offer a variety of different frameworks, such as graph based or document based. The most common reason to use a non-relational database is when scalability is a major concern. Non-relational databases often handle rapid scaling better than relational databases.

Are there free or open-source non-relational databases?

Unlike many other business software options, there are many feature complete, free and open-source options for businesses that are able to implement them without any assistance. These non-relational databases are a great choice for businesses that won’t need ongoing support for their database from a third party.

Check out the best free database software options

How do non-relational databases differ from NoSQL databases

The terms are often used interchangeably, but the main difference between the two is that many non-relational databases do support SQL compatible queries while NoSQL databases don’t.