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For a fixed amount of effort, you'll do better with Hibernate than without. But if you're an SQL expert and a Hibernate novice you should probably stick to SQL, or else accept that you're going to have to take some time learning (just as if you were to start using e.g. Cassandra you wouldn't expect to immediately be as effective with it as you were with SQL).

And don't expect to mix SQL and Hibernate operations freely in the same code, any more than you'd expect to freely mix e.g. encoding-aware String operations and manipulation of the underlying bytes. It's possible to make good use of the fact that Hibernate is implemented in SQL, CQRS-style: use Hibernate for your "live" operations in your application, use SQL for reporting/aggregation and ad-hoc querying, playing to both their strengths. But don't try to interleave them, especially in the same transaction.

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