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SQL Server Developers Worried as Netflix Chooses NoSQL

Netflix is hiring, but SQL Server gurus need not apply.

The company that transformed from a clunky DVD-by-mail delivery system to cutting-edge video streaming from the cloud has some SQL Server developers worried about their future job prospects as Netflix embraces the NoSQL movement. Few things are scarier than wondering if you backed the wrong horse in your career choice.

"This sort of questions are freaking me out," wrote one blogger about a forum post that expressed concern about the Netflix decision. "Can you imagine how panicked programmers are, knowing that not only tens of programming languages are out there (plus C/C++ is dead, Java is dead, etc.), but also a couple of different programming paradigms?"

The post he was referring to appeared on a SQLServerCentral forum and referenced a Netflix blog discussing the move to the NoSQL camp. "Is this something relational database guys has to be concerned about? I am concerned on what future holds for SQL-Developers and SQL-server DBAs," said forum member sqlcool.

The blog posting that stirred all this up was titled "NoSQL at Netflix" and was written a couple weeks ago by Yury Izrailevsky, director of Cloud and Systems Infrastructure at Netflix.

"While it is not easy to re-architect your systems to not run join queries, or not rely on read-after-write consistency (hey, just cache the value in your app!), we have found ourselves braving the new frontier of NoSQL distributed databases," Izrailevsky said.

The Neflix exec explained: "the reasons behind our choice of three ... NoSQL tools: SimpleDB, Hadoop/HBase and Cassandra."

After discussing each one, he admitted:

Adopting the non-relational model in general is not easy, and Netflix has been paying a steep pioneer tax while integrating these rapidly evolving and still maturing NoSQL products. There is a learning curve and an operational overhead. Still, the scalability, availability and performance advantages of the NoSQL persistence model are evident and are paying for themselves already, and will be central to our long-term cloud strategy.

There has been plenty of other discussion about Netflix and its embrace of NoSQL, including a technical white paper by Netflix software architect "Sid" Anand. He’s going to talk more about it in a meeting next week titled "NoSQL @ Netflix."

Meanwhile, as Izrailevsky concluded: "For those technology superstars out there: Netflix is hiring."


Are you a SQL Server guy worried about this kind of stuff? Please share your thoughts by commenting here or drop me a line.

[Editor's note: This article was updated from its original posting, with corrected information pointed out by the commenter referenced in paragraph 3 and 4.]

Posted by David Ramel on 02/10/2011 at 1:15 PM

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 Ryan

I love blanket statements like " is DEAD". Dead programming languages do not require any developers. But you'll find the opposite by doing a search for PASCAL, COBOL or FORTRAN on now try Java and C++. Android must also be dead and anything else that Steve Jobs says is dead, must in fact be.

Sat, Feb 12, 2011 John

Consider working for cable news as your headline and this article are idiotic. Any blogger who considers this a threat instead of opportunity will go the way of natural selection and depleted 401k's. I've been programming for 20+ years and adopt with great pain but with each turn of the worm of the MS marketing dept. But, I will admit, I've been weaning myself off MS tech and into the "other side" in the past few years. Instant obsolescence is getting a bit old: dao, odbc direct, ado,, entity fw, .net "evolve" an nausea.... What ever happened to the concept of building black boxes as contracts that was preached in VS5???

Fri, Feb 11, 2011 David Ramel

Alex, thanks for letting me know about my mistake, for which I apologize. It has been corrected.

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 Alex Popescu

David, My comment was referring to the question on the forum and not Netflix's decision. As someone covering the NoSQL space for more than an year I've seen these job concerns taking various forms. And my reaction to them has always been the one expressed in the post you've linked to: "Relational databases aren’t going anywhere. We will continue to use them for a wide range of problems. And NoSQL databases are just a set of tools to help us out build smarter and solid solutions. The two will coexist happily."

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