Graph database maker Neo Technology recently delivered Neo4j 3.0, the latest release of its graph database solution, which provides increased scalability and developer-friendly features such as language drivers.
Philip Rathle, vice president of products at Neo, said the top three new features in Neo4j 3.0 are as follows:
–redesigned internals that remove previous limits on the number of nodes, relationships and properties that can be stored and indexed;
–new supported language drivers backed by the Bolt binary protocol with support for Java Stored Procedures, together enabling full-stack developers to build applications; and
–a streamlined configuration and deployment structure to deploy Neo4j on-premises or in the cloud.
These new features are integral to Neo’s goal of propelling graph databases into the mainstream.
“We are looking to cultivate a community around graph databases,” Emil Eifrem, founder and CEO of Neo Technology, told eWEEK. There have been more than 2 million downloads of the Neo4j database and more than 30,000 people have registered for further education on the database, he noted.
A graph database is a database that uses graph structures for semantic queries with nodes, edges and properties to represent and store data. Graph databases are used for storing, managing and querying complex and highly connected data. Moreover, the graph database architecture is particularly well-suited for exploring data to find commonalities and anomalies among large data volumes and unlocking the value contained in the data’s relationships.
“Every aspect of the architecture has been revisited to make graph database development productive and intuitive, while at the same time supporting massive graphs into the hundreds of billions and trillions of nodes and relationships,” said Jim Webber, Neo Technology’s chief scientist, in a statement. “We’ve achieved all of this whilst retaining Neo4j’s signature ‘minutes-to-milliseconds’ performance.”
“Convenience is the killer app for mainstream tech adoption,” said James Governor, co-founder and analyst at market research and analyst firm RedMonk, in a statement. “Neo4j 3.0 aims to be more developer-friendly thanks to Bolt and drivers for the most popular programming languages in their specific distribution systems.”
In addition to adding support for Java Stored Procedures, which allows for features such as schema introspection to be added easily to the database, Neo also improved the performance of its Cypher graph query language.
The company also added a new cost-based query optimizer for database writes, which, along with the improvements to Cypher, helps to produce better, faster queries across the board. And Neo added a new configuration and logging structure to support modern deployment scenarios such as the cloud and containers such as Docker.
“Before Neo4j 3.0, graph sizes were limited to tens of billions of records. With Neo4j 3.0, those limits go away,” Rathle said in a statement. “We are already working with customers who are pushing into hundreds-of-billions scale graphs. This release takes them there—and beyond.”
Graph databases are best applied to use cases in which there are lots of connected devices or assets with multiple relationships between and among them.
Rathle said Neo4j 3.0 is the fastest, most powerful, easy-to-use and productive product the company has produced to date.
“Most of our engineering goes into being the database that you can trust,” he said. “We also spend a great deal of time thinking about new possibilities. The new language drivers together with Bolt radically change the way developers and applications interact with the database, offering enormous possibilities for innovative graph applications to emerge.”
The new release enables users to carry out real-time queries against massive graphs, making it useful for large-scale applications and typical graph database use cases including real-time retail recommendations, on-the-fly fraud prevention and Internet of things (IoT) applications, as well as master data management, network security and IT operations.
Neo4j 3.0 Moves Graph Databases Closer to Mainstream
“With IoT applications, we can help configure things so that my bathroom scale is not talking to my neighbor’s refrigerator,” Rathle told eWEEK.
In addition to the new features in Neo4j, Neo Technology launched a new companion cloud service, Neo4j Browser Sync. This free service enables developers to save and synchronize their favorite scripts and settings.
“Neo4j Browser Sync is a companion cloud service for Neo4j Browser,” Rathle said in a blog post. “Browser Sync allows you to synchronize saved scripts and graph style sheets as well as preserve client-side work across connections.”
This means users’ scripts and settings will be available to them as they move from database to database, machine to machine and Web browser to Web browser.
“Browser Sync gives you quick and easy access to your favorite and most commonly used Cypher queries. In fact, you can store an unlimited number of queries with Browser Sync,” Rathle said.
Meanwhile, Eifrem noted Neo4j helped the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to analyze The Panama Papers—an exposé of offshore tax haven activity of many members of the global elite.
The ICIJ used Neo4j and Linkurious, a graph visualization library for Neo4j, to unearth the juicy details of the Panama Papers.
Mar Cabra, Data and Research Unit editor at the ICIJ, called Neo4j “a revolutionary discovery tool that’s transformed our investigative journalism process because relationships are all important in telling you where the criminality lies, who works with whom, and so on,” in a statement. “Understanding relationships at huge scale is where graph techniques excel.”
The Panama Papers consist of 2.6TB of data that was obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the ICIJ. There were more than 11.5 million documents in all, Cabra said.
She noted that the ICIJ needed an intuitive, easy-to-use solution that did not require the intervention of any data scientist or developers, so that journalists could work with the data regardless of their technical abilities.
“Linkurious Enterprise was the best platform to explore this data and to share insights in a secure way,” she said. “Using the Linkurious graph visualization platform with Neo4j is a powerful combination.”
Eifrem told eWEEK that Linkurious takes a graph of any size and then visualizes a part of that graph on the screen in a way that it makes sense to someone who is not an expert at querying graphs. Yet, Neo4j is used for all the querying and data manipulation of the data sets.
“You can look at Linkurious as the ‘Tableau’ of graphs, whereas we are the ‘Oracle’ of graphs, if you will,” he said. Neo4j helps to democratize access to large amounts of information, he added.
In a blog post on the ICIJ’s use of Neo4j, Eifrem said for more than a decade big Web firms such as Google and Facebook have built up an array of skills and tools that enable them to derive insight and value from massive amounts of data. Data is their core differentiation and their business models depend on increasingly sophisticated ways of working with information, he said.
Now the government can make sense of all kinds of large data sets that are the result of our digital daily lives, Eifrem said in an interview.