by Dan McCreary and Ann Kelly, Authors of Making Sense of NoSQL

Bigtable systems are important NoSQL data architecture patterns because they can quickly scale to manage large data volumes. They are also known to be closely tied with many MapReduce systems. In this article from Making Sense of NoSQL, the authors discuss how Bigtable systems store data using row and column keys and how they are used in several business applications.


Bigtable systems are a type of database that uses row and column identifiers as general purposes keys for data lookup. They are sometimes referred to as a data store rather than a database since Bigtables lack features you may expect to find in a traditional database. For example, they lack typed columns, secondary indexes, triggers, or query languages. Systems introduced by Google as well as HBase and Hypertable are good examples of Bigtable systems.

Inside Bigtable

Our first example of using rows and columns as a key is the spreadsheet. While most of us don