What is NewSQL?

NewSQL is a class of relational database management systems (RDBMS) designed to provide the scalability of NoSQL systems for online transaction processing (OLTP) read-write workloads while maintaining the ACID guarantees (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) of traditional database systems. It delivers a modern solution where businesses can handle large volumes of data in real-time, without having to sacrifice consistency or reliability.


The term NewSQL was coined by 451 Research analyst Matt Aslett in 2011, and has been adopted by a number of vendors who do not fit into the traditional RDBMS mold, yet also diverge from the NoSQL movement. NewSQL systems are designed to operate in distributed clusters like NoSQL databases, but they present a relational model and support SQL query semantics.

Functionality and Features

NewSQL databases offer a range of features and functions aimed at preserving SQL's robustness while enhancing scalability and performance. These include:

  • Full support for SQL: The ability to process complex SQL queries, a feature that's not typically available in NoSQL databases.
  • Scalability: The ability to scale horizontally across multiple nodes for high-volume traffic while maintaining high transaction rates.
  • Fault Tolerance: The inclusion of mechanisms to prevent data loss in case of system failure.
  • Distributed Transactions: Support for ACID transactions across distributed databases.
  • Built-In Machine Learning: Some NewSQL databases incorporate machine learning functionality directly into the database.


The architecture of NewSQL databases is typically distributed and scales horizontally. The system architecture is composed of multiple layers including a SQL layer and a distributed transactional storage layer. The SQL layer processes queries and transactions, while the storage layer manages distributed data access and controls concurrency and recovery.

Benefits and Use Cases

NewSQL fills the gap between traditional RDBMS and NoSQL databases, making it suitable for a variety of use cases. It is particularly well-suited for applications that require high transactional throughput along with strict consistency, such as financial systems and online retail applications. It also benefits big data analytics by providing a scalable database layer that supports complex SQL queries.

Challenges and Limitations

While NewSQL databases offer many advantages, they are not without limitations. For instance, NewSQL services can be complex to administer due to their distributed nature. Also, as a newer technology, they may not yet offer the complete suite of tools and functionalities provided by mature RDBMS platforms.

Integration with Data Lakehouse

NewSQL can be an instrumental component in a data lakehouse setup, as it enables transactionally consistent operations on large volumes of data. This supports the lakehouse model of providing a unified platform for various workloads such as data warehousing and machine learning.

Security Aspects

In terms of security, NewSQL systems generally incorporate traditional database security measures, including user authentication and authorization, data encryption, and activity logging. However, the specific security features may vary based on the individual product.


NewSQL database systems aim to provide the high performance of NoSQL systems while maintaining the ACID properties of traditional SQL. This efficiency can be particularly beneficial in applications requiring high-volume, real-time data processing.


What is the main advantage of NewSQL over traditional SQL? The key advantage is scalability. NewSQL databases are designed to scale horizontally across multiple servers while maintaining high transaction processing speeds and full ACID compliance.

How is NewSQL different from NoSQL? Unlike NoSQL, NewSQL databases support relational data models and SQL query semantics. They still offer the scalability and performance of NoSQL systems while maintaining a higher degree of consistency.

Can NewSQL databases replace traditional RDBMS? While NewSQL databases can provide many of the same guarantees as traditional RDBMS, they are not necessarily a replacement but rather a modern supplement to traditional solutions. The choice between the two depends greatly on the specific use case, workload requirements, and complexity of queries.


ACID: A set of properties that guarantee database transactions are processed reliably.

SQL: Structured Query Language, a standard language for managing and manipulating databases.

NoSQL: Non-relational databases that scale horizontally and are designed to store, distribute, and access large amounts of data across many servers.

Database Scalability: The ability of a database system to handle an increasing amount of work by adding resources.

Data Lakehouse: An architecture that combines qualities of data lakes and data warehouses in a single platform.

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