Relational database management systems (RDBMSs) are systems of software that manage databases as structured sets of tables containing rows and columns with references to one another through key values. They include the ability to optimize storage, process transactions, perform queries, and preserve the integrity of data structures. When used with applications, they provide the beating heart of the collection of business functions supported by those applications. They vary considerably in terms of the factors that impact the total cost of running a database application, yet users seldom perform a disciplined procedure to calculate such costs. Most users choose instead to remain with a single vendor's RDBMS and never visit the question of ongoing hardware, software, and staffing fees.
As business users expand to newer types of applications, and grow older ones, their attempts to use RDBMS encounter the "Relational Wall," where RDBMS technology no longer provides the performance and functionality needed. This paper measures the wall, explains what model and architectural differences cause it, how to foresee it, and how to avoid it.