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Reading through Rosenberg & Mateos' The Cloud at Your Service I stumbled upon the concept of database sharding.

Authors point out to several advantages of such approach including high (online) availability, faster queries, handling higher user loads and better parallelization (they also warn of potential pitfalls!)

Is sharding used in geospatial world? What are the applications? Advantages? Disatvantages?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

MongoDB is a Database that supports Sharding

Sharding offers:

Advantages: Automatic balancing for changes in load and data distribution

Easy addition of new machines Scaling out to one thousand nodes

No single points of failure

Automatic failover

Disadvantages: Sharding must be ran in trusted security mode, without explicit security.

Shard keys are immutable in the current version

All (non-multi)updates, upserts, and inserts must include the current shard key. This may cause issues for anyone using a mapping library since you don't have full control of updates.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MongoDB#Sharding

http://www.mongodb.org/display/DOCS/Sharding

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