Thursday, March 28, 2019

Neo4J rocks! Why? Well it's not just about the awesome technology


I received a message from my friend Ryan Boyd (at) neo4j.(ext) (see below).  The message is posted for all to read.

Before I present the contents of his email, I want to stress the importance of a few things I believe are very important to all developers.

1. Not many incumbent software vendors care about start-ups. Neo4J is different. I was part of Neo4J as an observer/fan-boy when they launched and I became aware of their technology stack (circa 2002). I ended up becoming a technology teacher for Neo4J. During these times, there were many critics of GraphDB systems, but many of us saw the light and were happy to have an alternative to the RDBMS systems. Most of the critics stated that the concept was old [sigh), but I digress. Graph DBs are simply awesome. I do not want to be corporate specific as there are many great companies (like TigerGraph and AgensGraph/BitNine), that have embraced and expanded upon the ideas of graph databases coupled with advanced data models. Specifically, BitNine, has introduced a mixed-model DB, a technology that could address the shortcomings of pure GraphDBs; and

2. When the first analysts started naming the non-relational/SQL industry as "NoSQL", I saw the inherent flaws in that acronym. NoSQL means "Not Only SQL" (SQL meaning "standardized query language'). In a previous post (2012 - link:, I expressed a concern that the logic of stating (x 'may include' y) but (x may alternatively 'dis-include’ y) was essentially meaningless since it did not actually did not negate anything. It's like me state "the dinner I cooked for you MAY have white pepper but it may also MAY NOT HAVE white pepper".  Are there really any other alternatives? As Homer said ... "D'oh!!!"

Neo4J did not let this affect them as they knew they were on to something much grander! Of course, their idea of a graph database was far before the social networks where it is obvious that (friend -> hasFriend) is an essential component of every graph (trust me that it gets a lot more specific than this).  Since social networks are so prevalent in every system, I found Neo4K ahead of its time by major factors; and

3. Neo4J was/is_still a start-up. They never forgot the people who helped them while they were trying to get on the map of IT. This makes the character of Neo4J far greater than other start-ups a.  If you are a new start-up, think about how you can emulate Neo4J’s methodology; and

4. They have invested most of their early revenue (see news release below) back into building a stronger community and helping developers> This builds a stronger eco-system of developers who help each other and a more productive environment to work within. Over the years, I have watched this grow in leaps and bounds!

On the latter note, I must disclose some facts.

- Peter Neubauer, is a friend. He was a co-founder of Neo4J. I have worked in a startup with him and come to love him as a brother-from-a-different-mother. Great guy, very smart and ahead of his time!

- I have met with Emil Eifrem on multiple occasions and have come to admire him, both as a human and as a leader in IT.

- Michael Hunger surprised us all by being the single most responsive Technical Evangelist any company has ever had.  I must juxtapose this to my own previous employment experience at Adobe Systems.  As a Tech-Evangelist, we were expected to answer any developer requests as soon as possible. The actual timeframe was stated as "as soon as you can" and Adobe is a very excellent company when it comes to terms with their developer/designer relationships.

The startling fact was that when Peter N., Matt MacKenzie, Moshe Silverstein and I had an issue with the core Neo4J BD system while building a new idea and we reported it to the Neo4J Dev/issues list. Neo4J would acknowledge the issue (if in fact, it were an issue vs. ourselves failing to read the manual), but Michael would have often fixed it prior to us receiving the email and uploaded it to GitHub. I've never seen a company respond so quickly!

I have never dealt with another company that could address developer issues within a week, nevertheless doing it within a day. Fixing issues within 30 minutes was literally unheard of. NOTE: I do not wish to set any unrealistic developer expectations. YAMMV. Mine was awesome! From what I understand, the same level of commitment still exists.

All of this is why Neo4J is special to me. They care about developers. I know I introduced many of you  (reading this post) to coding and/or Neo4J (source: Google Analytics; personal emails).   The truth is that I now want to express just how special Neo4J is.  Many other companies (whom I will not mention by name), could win big time by understanding why Neo4J is helping developers like myself while incumbent giants see themselves losing market share each year to niche players.

Just my (CAD) $0.016534  worth (today's exchange rate).

Duane Nickull

Appendix "A" - Ryan's Email:

Hi there,

We believe in startups as early innovators and disruptors in their respective industries, so we wanted to make it easier to get access to the powerful features in Neo4j Enterprise. We're super happy to let y'all know that we've dramatically expanded the Neo4j Startup Program.

“I’m always struck by the breadth of disruptive business models built around graph technology. Our Startup Program aims to give back to the startup community and make graph technology available to data infrastructures that thrive on connections and drive innovation. It’s gratifying to see our Startup Program members in action and witness their success.” – Emil Eifrem, CEO and Co-Founder of Neo4j

Are you building a product and have <= 50 employees and < $3mm in revenue

You can get Neo4j Enterprise for free, including Causal Clustering and online backup for scale and availability.

But wait, there's more

Qualifying startups also get access to Neo4j Bloom 2 for data discovery and visualization.

Apply today 2 or learn more about the Startup Program from my blog post 2.

Best of luck building your applications and businesses!