Top 9 Open Source Graph Databases

Deepsandhya Shukla 25 Jan, 2024 • 6 min read


Graph databases have gained significant popularity in recent years due to their ability to store and analyze highly connected data efficiently. Unlike traditional relational databases, graph databases represent complex relationships between entities, making them ideal for use cases such as social networks, recommendation engines, and fraud detection. This article will explore the top 9 open source graph databases, their benefits, features, use cases, and how to choose the right one for your needs.

Open Source Graph Databases

What are Graph Databases?

Graph databases are a type of NoSQL database that use graph structures to represent and store data. They consist of nodes, which represent entities, and edges, which represent the relationships between entities. This graph-based approach allows for flexible and efficient querying of highly connected data, making it easier to uncover patterns and insights.

Benefits of Using Open Source Graph Databases

Open source graph databases offer several advantages over their proprietary counterparts. Firstly, they provide greater flexibility and customization options, allowing developers to tailor the database to their needs. Additionally, open source databases often have active communities that contribute to their development and provide support, ensuring continuous improvement and bug fixes. Lastly, open source graph databases are typically more cost-effective, as they eliminate the need for expensive licensing fees.

9 Open Source Graph Databases

Here are 9 open source graph databases:

  1. Neo4j: Neo4j is one of the most popular graph databases, known for its scalability and performance. It supports ACID transactions and offers a powerful query language called Cypher, simplifying graph traversal and querying.
  2. JanusGraph: JanusGraph is a distributed graph database that can handle large-scale graphs. It supports various storage backends, including Apache Cassandra and Apache HBase, and provides a flexible data model.
  3. ArangoDB: ArangoDB is a multi-model database that supports graph, document, and key-value data models. It offers a rich query language called AQL, which allows for complex graph traversals and joins.
  4. OrientDB: OrientDB is a hybrid graph and document database combining the benefits of both models. It supports ACID transactions and distributed clustering and offers an SQL-like query language.
  5. Virtuoso: Virtuoso is a high-performance graph database that handles large-scale RDF datasets. It supports SPARQL, a query language for querying RDF data, and offers advanced features for semantic web applications.
  6. Cayley: Cayley is an open source graph database written in Go. It provides a simple and efficient API for querying and manipulating graph data and supports various storage backends, including LevelDB and MongoDB.
  7. Stardog: Stardog is a knowledge graph platform that combines graph database capabilities with semantic reasoning. It supports SPARQL and offers advanced features for building and querying knowledge graphs.
  8. Dgraph: Dgraph is a distributed graph database designed for scalability and performance. It supports GraphQL, a query language for APIs, and offers features like sharding and replication for high availability.
  9. AgensGraph: AgensGraph is a graph database that extends the PostgreSQL relational database with graph capabilities. It supports graph and relational queries, making it suitable for hybrid use cases.

Features and Capabilities of Open Source Graph Databases

  1. Data Modeling: Open source graph databases provide flexible data modeling capabilities, allowing developers to define custom node and edge properties and relationships.
  2. Querying and Traversing Graphs: Graph databases offer powerful query languages that simplify graph traversal and querying. These languages often support pattern matching, filtering, and aggregation operations.
  3. Scalability and Performance: Many open source graph databases are designed for scalability and can handle large-scale graphs efficiently. They often support distributed architectures and provide features like sharding and replication.
  4. ACID Compliance: Some open source graph databases support ACID transactions, ensuring data consistency and reliability. This is particularly important for use cases that require strong data integrity guarantees.
  5. Integration with Other Technologies: Open source graph databases can integrate with other technologies, such as programming languages, frameworks, and data processing tools. This allows for seamless data integration and analysis.

Use Cases for Open Source Graph Databases

  1. Social Networks and Recommendations: Graph databases excel at modeling social networks and making personalized recommendations based on user connections and preferences.
  2. Fraud Detection and Risk Analysis: Graph databases can detect patterns of fraudulent behavior by analyzing the relationships between entities, such as customers, transactions, and IP addresses.
  3. Knowledge Graphs and Semantic Web: Graph databases are ideal for building knowledge graphs representing complex relationships between entities and enabling semantic reasoning.
  4. Network and IT Operations Management: Graph databases can model and analyze network topologies, enabling efficient network management and troubleshooting.
  5. Recommendation Engines and Personalization: Graph databases can power recommendation engines by analyzing user preferences and item relationships.

How to Choose the Right Open Source Graph Database

When choosing an open source graph database, consider the following factors:

  1. Performance and Scalability: Evaluate the database’s performance and scalability capabilities, especially if you anticipate working with large-scale graphs.
  2. Data Modeling and Querying Capabilities: Assess the database’s data modeling and querying capabilities to ensure they align with your specific use case requirements.
  3. Community Support and Documentation: Check the availability of community support and comprehensive documentation, as these resources can greatly aid development and troubleshooting.
  4. Compatibility with Existing Infrastructure and Tools: To ensure seamless integration, Consider whether the graph database is compatible with your existing infrastructure and tools.

Getting Started with Open Source Graph Databases

To get started with open source graph databases, follow these steps:

  1. Installation and Setup: Download and install the chosen graph database on your local machine or server. Follow the installation instructions provided by the database’s documentation.
  2. Creating and Managing Graphs: Use the database’s API or query language to create and manage graphs. Define nodes, edges, and their properties to represent your data.
  3. Querying and Analyzing Graph Data: Utilize the database’s query language to perform graph traversals, pattern matching, and analysis. Leverage the database’s indexing and optimization features for improved performance.
  4. Integrating with Applications and Tools: Integrate the graph database with your applications and tools using the provided APIs or connectors. This allows for seamless data exchange and analysis.
  5. Monitoring and Optimizing Performance: Monitor the performance of your graph database using built-in monitoring tools or third-party solutions. Optimize queries and indexes to improve performance as needed.
Open Source Graph Databases
Source: Medium

Challenges and Limitations of Open Source Graph Databases

Despite their numerous benefits, open source graph databases also have some challenges and limitations:

  1. Complexity of Data Modeling: Data modeling in graph databases can be complex, especially for highly connected data. It requires careful consideration of node and edge properties and relationships.
  2. Performance and Scalability Issues: Large graphs can pose challenges to performance and scalability. Choosing a graph database that can handle your data volume and query requirements is important.
  3. Lack of Standardization and Interoperability: Graph database technologies are still evolving, and there is a lack of standardization and interoperability between different databases. This can make data migration and integration more challenging.
  4. Learning Curve for Developers: When working with graph databases, Developers may need to learn new query languages and data modeling concepts. This learning curve can impact development timelines and productivity.
  5. Maintenance and Support: Open source graph databases may require more maintenance and support compared to proprietary solutions. It’s important to have a dedicated team or resources to handle updates, bug fixes, and performance optimization.

The future of open source graph databases looks promising, with several trends and developments on the horizon:

  1. Graph Analytics and Machine Learning Integration: Graph databases are increasingly being integrated with graph analytics and machine learning frameworks, enabling advanced analytics and insights.
  2. Distributed Graph Processing: Distributed graph processing frameworks are emerging, allowing for efficient processing of large-scale graphs across distributed systems.
  3. Graph Database as a Service: Cloud-based graph database services are becoming more prevalent. They offer scalability, ease of use, and managed infrastructure.
  4. Graph Database Federation and Interoperability: Efforts are underway to establish standards and protocols for graph database federation and interoperability, enabling seamless data exchange between databases.
  5. Improved Tooling and Developer Experience: The tooling and developer experience around graph databases continuously improve, with new IDEs, query builders, and visualization tools being developed.


Open source graph databases provide a powerful, flexible solution for storing and analyzing highly connected data. They offer numerous benefits, including scalability, performance, and customization options. By understanding the features, use cases, and considerations for choosing the right graph database, developers can leverage these technologies to build innovative applications and gain valuable insights from their data. As the field of graph databases continues to evolve, we can expect to see exciting advancements and new possibilities.

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