Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Choosing A Backend For A Graph Store

Choosing the right backend data store from the start is critical to ensuring that your application scales. At Lithium our team faced the challenge of choosing a data store for a new project. Let’s see if you think we chose wisely.

As a social site you can imagine that we want to store connections between users and entities. Those entities could be other users, or particular groups or products. And the connections would be relationships; I like this, I want to follow that, and so on.

On its face you would think this is a straightforward relational problem. The twist comes because we are a B2B company and we want to provide a flexible data store to our customers. That means custom fields on users, entities and relationships.

For example, imagine an electronics retailer that is allowing their customers to ‘like’ various products on their home page. That retailer will want to be able to get answers to questions like what cell phone brand do 18-35 year olds prefer. Where ‘cell phone’ and ‘brand’ would be custom fields on entity, and ’18-35’ would be a custom field on user.

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