Gartner Research

Decision Point for Selecting the Right Database Format: Relational, XML or NoSQL

Published: 16 December 2013

ID: G00259826

Analyst(s): Lyn Robison


Selecting the right database format is fundamental to information systems because the database format determines the type of data that a database can handle. This Decision Point provides guidance for selecting a database format and, by extension, the type of database that implements that format.

Table Of Contents

Decision Point

Decision Context

  • Business and Technology Scenario
  • Architectural Context
  • Related Decisions

Evaluation Criteria

  • Requirements and Constraints
    • Requirements
    • Constraints
  • Principles


  • Relational Database Format
  • Table-Style Database Format
  • Document Database Format
  • Key-Value Database Format
  • Graph Database Format

Future Developments

  • Ubiquity of XML-Based Data
  • Development of the Semantic Technologies
  • Big Data
  • Text and Web Analytics
  • Support for Multiple Database Formats in a Single Database
  • Requirements for Distributed Data in Cloud Computing

Decision Tool

Decision Justification

  • Relational Database Format
  • Table-Style Database Format
  • Document Database Format
  • Graph Database Format
  • Key-Value Database Format

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