Why Graph Search Is Moving Databases to a New Level
After a full decade in production, Neo4j is now the world's most widely used graph database with the largest ecosystem of partners, 100-plus paying customers and tens of thousands of successful deployments, Neo Technology founder, chief engineer and CEO Emil Eifrem told eWEEK. Neo4j is a highly scalable open-source graph database that supports the ACID properties of transactions (atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability), has high-availability clustering for enterprise deployments, and comes with a Web-based administration tool that includes full transaction support and visual node-link graph explorer. Neo4j is accessible from most programming languages using its built-in REST web API interface. Most of the Tier 1 all-purpose IT companies--such as IBM, EMC, Google, Oracle, Microsoft, and Cisco Systems--either have a graph search database already in use or are close to making their own version available soon. Microsoft's Horton, VelocityGraph, VertexDB, Sqrrl Enterprise, Oracle Spatial and Graph, OpenLink Virtuoso are among the other graph databases. Freemium Business Model"There’s a lot of value in figuring out how things are related," Eifrem said. "How people are related, how companies are related--it even could be between proteins interacting. That’s a graph search. For another example: I was running late coming here [to San Francisco] from San Mateo--that's also a graph search: San Mateo is one node, there's San Francisco, and between us there are other cities, and their relationships are roads. How do I get from point A to point B? That’s graph search." Thus, graph search is widely applicable for a great many use cases. "The key distinction, however, is that very few people have the resources of Mark Zuckerberg and can hire the smartest guys from Google and dedicate hundreds of people to building this out," Eifrem said. Neo Technology offers this capability off the shelf, Eifrem said. Use Case: Onefinestay.com Neo Technology customer Onefinestay.com is a cloud service for travelers to cities such as London, Paris and New York that enables users to "live like a local." The business model offers a customer the opportunity to live in a distinctive home while the owner is out of town. Homes on Onefinestay are equivalent to (or exceed, in most cases) a 5-star hotel and include extras such as an iPhone loaded with the contacts for the homeowner's favorite restaurants and a list of places to explore around town. With Onefinestay's growing menu of services and ever-expanding property listings, the company needed a better way to provide insights to its guests and operations team, Eifrem said. Onefinestay began experiencing more and more database query and standardizations issues, and for this reason, it started looking into other database options, including graph databases. "We considered a number of NoSQL options, including Mongo, DynamoDB and other graph solutions, Neo4j provided the required balance of features and support we needed to unlock the power of data captured on our residential properties," said Jackson Hull, CTO of Onefinestay. "Neo4j gives us peace of mind; it's a solid tool with wide-ranging application, offers a stable partner to grow with, and allows us to be a part of a great user community." Works Across Verticals The Neo4j Graph Database can fit into just about every industry, Eifrem said. "From telcos to financial services to hospitality to online dating and health care, it is becoming clear that it's not just about data anymore, but about knowing the relationships between data," Eifrem said. "Augmenting business decisions with knowledge of how things are connected is becoming a major differentiator for businesses." Neo Technology is privately held and funded by Fidelity Growth Partners Europe, Sunstone Capital and Conor Venture Partners, and is headquartered in San Mateo, Calif., with offices in Sweden, the UK, Germany and Malaysia. For more information, go here.
Because Neo4j has a freemium business model, it’s nearly impossible to determine how many deployments of the database are now in use, but Eifrem said the numbers of database developers in the Neo community who identify themselves in email lists, meetups and other group activities has tripled year-to-year. Bottom line: There’s no question that interest in the specialized search database is on a clear upswing.