MongoDB vs MySQL – Not a Contest, But a Business Decision

Lets look at how MySQL a legacy database technology compares with MongoDB, a newer system.

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In this blog let’s take a closer look at how MySQL a legacy database technology compares with MongoDB, a newer system. Mind you, comparing these two databases is not an easy task because each of these systems have their own advantages. But I’ll try to strip down the technical jargon and make it easier for any app developer to understand this topic.

MySQL and MongoDB are database management systems before we proceed let’s quickly understand what’s a database. Simply defined, a database is an application that maintains gathered data organized in a specific way. This could be anything from images, videos, customer information, product lists etc. Databases eliminate the need to store data locally on systems and help IT teams create, access, search for and replicate the data of the organization’s website.

What is MySQL?

A popular choice with leading web-based applications like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, MySQL is based on open source RDBMS, which can operate on almost platforms. MySQL has evolved over the years and become more feature-rich and advanced. It now offers support for NoSQL document stores as well as multiple improvements for transactional storage of JSON, window functions, dictionary data etc.

What is MongoDB?

MongoDB is a free and open source database, but unlike MySQL, MongoDB is document-oriented, is NoSQL and uses JSON-like documents with schemas. There are several challenges associated with relational databases that an app development company can encounter, the key ones being that they are unable to deal with the issues of scale and flexibility as seen in applications today. They do not leverage the extra memory, commodity storage and processing power available to the full extent.

But MongoDB addresses these issue by the way it stores data. By handling the data in flexible JSON-like documents, items with the same collection can be stored with a variable numbers of fields, while providing the flexibility for data structures be altered. MongoDB employs easy-to-map models for objects in the application code, and makes it easier for an app development company to handle ad-hoc queries, incorporate real-time aggregation and indexing.

Comparing MongoDB and MySQL

Now for some similarities

Characteristic MySQL MongoDB
Type Relational database Non-relational, Based on Document Store
Implementation Java, Perl, C, C++ C++
Holds Relational tables, Document Store, Key-value store Document Store, Key-value store
Schemas Defined, not flexible Dynamic
APIs and access Proprietary native API, SQL, ODBC, ADO.NET, JDBC JSON-like protocol
Scalability Vertical; harder to scale, but possible. You can add more resources to a single server Horizontal; more scalable than MySQL. MongoDB is horizontally scalable, you can add more servers to expand your database
Language XML support No XML support
Platforms/ Server OS Linux, OS X, Solaris, Windows, FreeBSD Linux, OS X, Solaris, Windows
Ideal for
  • Structured data
  • Multi-row transactions
  • Frequent updates
  • Smaller data sets
  • Accounting firms, banks etc where structured data with clear schema is needed, and businesses with fixed needs
  • Undefined schemas
  • Documents with varying lengths in a collection
  • Exponential growth of data
  • High Availability
  • Ideal in real-time data requirement scenarios, IoT, content management, mobile apps, social networks, big-data/web analytics oriented systems & other where structured data with clear schema is not needed.
Storage engines Supports multiple types including Unicode, SSL and triggers Supports storage engines with rich query language, large secondary indexes, and support for embedded data models
Speed Not as high-speed as it’s suitable for smaller databases and general solutions Takes full advantage of in-memory speed hence ideal for large, unstructured data sets

It makes sense for an mobile app developer to also look at how MongoDB and MySQL are similar to each other as we look at their differences.

  • Both databases have CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) functionality and a query language
  • Both of them support a huge variety of programming languages and OS
  • There is a large community of skilled and experience for both MongoDB and MySQL
  • The newer versions of MySQL come with support for NoSQL document stores and geospatial data
  • MongoDB, like MySQL, also supports multi-document transactions

So what should you pick?

It’s evident that MySQL and MongoDB both have their pros and cons. MongoDB is the newer, more popular app developer choice these days thanks to its speed and scalability, but compared to MySQL it is not as secure. You will come across several article trash-talking MySQL and pointing it out as an old database management system, but that’s inaccurate because non-relational databases are just an alternate choice for app developers. What’s important is picking a database as per your requirements, such as what kind of data you have, how much does it scale, how much do you expect it to expand etc. Foe instance, if you have a smaller batch of mostly transactional data and fixed schema then you can go with MySQL. SQL is a widely-known query language and you won’t need to hire app developers just for this. Base your choice of database management system on your needs as well as your existing infrastructure and available skillsets.You can always hire app developers with skills in both MongoDB and MySQL if you expect your requirements to fluctuate.


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Published Date: August 16, 2019

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