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Neptune vs Neo4J: A Head-to-Head Comparison

Hitesh Umaletiya
Hitesh Umaletiya
November 7, 2023
Clock icon8 mins read
Calendar iconLast updated November 7, 2023
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Introduction

Ever wondered how Facebook knows who your friends are, or how Netflix suggests those perfect binge-worthy shows? It's all about data relationships. These relationships are what enable these platforms to provide you with personalized and engaging experiences. And when your data isn't just isolated pieces of information but a network of datasets, it is managed through graph databases.

In this article, we will be talking about two popular graph databases: a battle-tested and most popular one, Neo4j, and the second one, Amazon’s Neptune, which created a buzz and sparked a debate between Neptune and Neo4j.

What is Neptune?

diagram_amazon-neptune

Image Source: Amazon AWS

Neptune is a cloud-based graph database service by AWS (Amazon Web Services), designed to store and process large-scale graph data. It is also referred to as a “purpose-built” database engine, signifying its suitability for specific tasks.

It allows you to use Apache TinkerPop Gremlin and SPARQL for querying data. In addition, you can find it supports both the property graphs and RDF graphs.

Property graphs provide a common approach to representing data as entities (vertices) and relationships (edges). Each vertex represents an entity or object in your dataset, such as a user, product, city, or any other entity. Edges represent connections or relationships between entities.

graph-example-neo4j

Image Source: Neo4j

While RDF graphs are a more specialized type of graph used to represent data following the Resource Description Framework (RDF) standard, their approach to information representation differs from that of property graphs. In RDF, each resource is represented as a vertex. These vertices can be anything from web pages and documents to real-world entities such as people, places, or events. It's commonly used to describe the relationships and attributes of these resources in a machine-readable format, allowing computers to understand and process the data.

test-ontology-visualization

Image Source: W3.org

 

What is Neo4j?

neo4j

It is a graph database management system (GDBMS) that enables you to efficiently manage and query data using its exclusive query language, Cypher. Regarding the graph data model, it is compatible with property graphs. Furthermore, it introduces a wealth of distinct features while also incorporating AI-powered tools.

As per DB engines's ranking, it is the most popular graph database management system as of 2023 and is embraced by over 75% of Fortune 500 companies.

In terms of performance, it is almost as fast as its counterpart. And if we talk about features, it is a feature-rich, highly scalable, and flexible graph database that can be used for a wide variety of applications. It also has a variety of security features, including role-based access control and encryption.

Also, it can be used on-premises or in the cloud, unlike Neptune, which is designed exclusively for the cloud. Overall, Neo4j is a powerful and versatile graph database that is a good choice for a wide range of applications.

Ready to elevate your cloud development game and make the most of Amazon Web Services? Start your AWS development journey today! 

Neptune vs Neo4J: Which One is More Popular?

When it comes to popularity, Neptune is not on the same level as Neo4j. However, it's important to consider that Neptune is relatively new to the scene.

Let's break it down with a quick head-to-head. We'll keep it brief and to the point, focusing on a concise comparison rather than delving into all the features.

Provider:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune is offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is hosted on their cloud infrastructure.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j is an independent graph database platform that offers deployment options on various cloud providers as well as on-premises environments.

Data Model:

  • Neptune: AWS Neptune supports both the property graph model and the RDF (Resource Description Framework) model. However, when it comes to querying the graph based on nodes' labels, AWS Neptune's support for a single label per node could be less flexible.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j is primarily centered around the property graph model. It supports multiple labels per node, providing greater flexibility when querying the graph based on nodes' labels.

Query Language:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune employs Gremlin for property graph queries and SPARQL for RDF queries.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j employs Cypher, its exclusive graph query language designed specifically for querying graph data.

Programming language:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune supports many programming languages, including C#, Go, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Scala.
  • Neo4J: It provides official support for programming languages like .NET, Java, JavaScript, Go, and Python through dedicated drivers. 

Acid Compliant:

  • Neptune: Offers immediate consistency on the primary writer and eventual consistency on read replicas, maintaining reliability in distributed environments.
  • Neo4j: Provides an ACID-compliant transactional backend for your applications. 

Data Loading:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune facilitates efficient data ingestion through its bulk loading capabilities.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j supports batch data loading and offers a range of import tools to facilitate data incorporation.

Deployment Options:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune is exclusively available as a cloud-based service, hosted within the Amazon Web Services (AWS) ecosystem.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j can be deployed within various cloud platforms, including AWS, alongside on-premises servers.

Performance:

  • Neptune: Neptune is optimized for different workloads on the AWS cloud.
  • Neo4J: Neo4j is known for its efficient query performance.

Graph Algorithms:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune boasts a suite of built-in graph algorithms, enhancing analytical capabilities.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j provides an extensive library of graph algorithms to cater to diverse analytical needs.

Licensing:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune follows a managed service model with pricing based on usage.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j offers both a Community Edition under an open-source license and an Enterprise Edition under a commercial license.

Custom Functions:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune supports the implementation of user-defined functions to enable advanced query capabilities.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j allows users to define custom procedures and functions to extend query capabilities.

Security Features:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune integrates with AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to enforce authentication and access controls.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j offers a range of authentication and authorization mechanisms to secure data access.

Community and Support:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune operates within the Amazon Web Services (AWS) ecosystem and benefits from AWS support channels.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j boasts an active open-source community and provides commercial support options.

Data Visualization:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune data can be visualized using compatible tools designed for graph databases.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j offers its own visualization tools alongside integrations with third-party visualization solutions.

Data Backup and Recovery:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune provides automated backup and recovery options to ensure data durability.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j offers mechanisms for backup and recovery to safeguard against data loss.

Use Cases and Industries:

  • Neptune: Amazon Neptune finds applicability in scenarios involving linked data and integration with other AWS services, suitable for diverse industries.
  • Neo4j: Neo4j is prominently utilized in domains such as social networks, recommendation systems, and fraud detection, catering to various industry sectors.

Pricing:

  • Neptune: It follows a pay-as-you-go model, where you pay for the resources you consume. Check out the pricing page for more information.
  • Neo4j:  It offers different editions: Community (open-source) and Enterprise (commercial), with varying features and pricing. Check out the pricing page for more information.

Companies Using Neptune

Neptune is used by a variety of companies, including Amazon, Cox Automotive, Siemens AG, Accenture, Netflix, Nike, and Capital One Financial. These companies use Neptune to power a variety of applications, such as fraud detection, recommendation engines, and social networking.

Companies Using Neo4J

Neo4J is used by world-renowned companies, including Adobe, Airbus, NASA, Vanguard, AstraZeneca, Intel, Comcast, Volkswagen, eBay, Levi’s, UBS, and many more, to store and analyze data relationships.

Conclusion

In this article, we have outlined the differences and similarities between Neptune and Neo4J to help you learn more about them. We hope you now have a clear understanding of the two.

However, when choosing a graph database, several aspects should be taken into account. Ultimately, the choice of technology depends heavily on your project requirements and objectives. If you are considering choosing the right database system for your project, we recommend first finding out your technical needs and limitations. Pricing, licensing, deployment, and other factors can be crucial aspects.

Hitesh Umaletiya

Hitesh Umaletiya

Co-founder of Brilworks. As technology futurists, we love helping startups turn their ideas into reality. Our expertise spans startups to SMEs, and we're dedicated to their success.

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