Neo4j: A Breakdown Of Graph Databases

Claude Harrington 08.22.2016

In almost any line of work, how we organize information is very important. Both for internal purposes and for clients as well. That’s why, in this digital age, it’s important to keep tabs on latest tech-driven organizational tools and see if they might be able to help our business. One such tool, the graph database, has become increasingly popular in recent years. So today we’re going to take a closer look at Neo4j, a graph database management system developed by Neo Technology.

Before we talk about Neo4j, we should first talk about graph databases. And we should begin that by stating that graph databases are an alternative to the more common “relational databases” that we’ve all used before.

Relational databases, as we know, consist of rows and columns.

Graph databases, however, consist of nodes (which are somewhat similar to rows) plus properties and relationships (which have no familiar counterpart in relational databases).

Graph databases provide an excellent way to represent complex networks. And compared to relational databases, they’re much nicer to look at it! But their value is about much more than aesthetics; it’s about how the information interconnects with all the data points and what we can learn from that connection.

So, bringing this back to the realm of business, we must ask: what are some of the use cases where a graph databases and the services of a company like Neo4j might be valuable?

Here are a few examples:

  • Detect and stop fraud as it happens with real-time analysis of data relationships
  • Create more accurate and relevant search tools
  • Track roles, groups and others assets
  • Enhance master data management (and visualization)
  • Develop real-time recommendation engines

Neo4j is not the only graph database solution out there, so let’s note a few of the things that we particularly like about Neo4j’s software:

Whiteboard-Friendly Data Modeling

Neo4j’s intuitive data model helps streamline and simplify the development cycle. This not only makes it easier to initially create a database, but it also helps position businesses to make changes quickly whenever necessary.

Track Record And Reputation

Oftentimes, track record and reputation may seem like the same thing. But in this case, one thing we really like about Neo4j is how long it’s been around. Since 2007, which is comforting in this situation because (as we alluded to above) the popularity and use of graph databases is a relatively new phenomenon.

The company’s reputation is also impressive. Last year, in Forrester’s Market Overview of the technology sector, Neo4j was named “the most popular graph database.” Additionally, the company features a very impressive array of clients that includes eBay and Walmart.

Large Graph Database Community

In addition to the software itself, Neo4j’s large and enthusiastic community helps forge a valuable additional resource. From events to educational videos, it’s a rich ecosystem that can aid graph databases users of all familiarity levels.

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