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There's really two dimensions: relational and ACID. The relational aspect is the R in RDBMS: if you have relational data, you can interact with it in mathematically defined ways. The ACID part is the MS: in the past, when we wanted to store and ask questions of our data, we also wanted it managed such that we had guarantees on it.

Depending on the project, NoSQL solutions can relax both of those dimensions. I typically refer to "NoSQL" as non-relational databases.




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