Hive vs HBase


Apache Hive and Apache HBase are two different Hadoop-based Big Data technologies that serve different purposes in almost all the use cases that can be practically considered. Take an example of a Social media scenario of Facebook – when you log in you might see multiple things on your Facebook landing page like your friend's list, a news feed, ad suggestions, friend suggestions, etc.

With over 2 billion monthly users accessing Facebook on a daily basis, how would you think that Facebook is able to load all such cluttered in a presentable manner – the answer is pretty simple, Apache Hadoop in conjunction with many other technologies that we are going to discuss today in detail, that is, Apache Hadoop with Apache Hive vs Apache HBase.

The complexity of big data systems requires that every technology needs to be used in conjunction with the other.

The hive should be used for analytical querying of data collected over a period of time - for instance, to calculate trends or website logs. The hive should not be used for real-time querying since it could take a while before any results are returned.

HBase is perfect for real-time querying of Big Data. Facebook uses it for messaging and real-time analytics. They may even be using it to count Facebook likes.

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Hive vs HBase - What are the Differences?

What is Apache Hive?

Apache Hadoop Hive is a SQL-like engine that runs atop Apache Hadoop and is designed for the SQL savvy techies who enable running MapReduce Jobs through SQL-like queries. Apache Hive lets developers impose a logical and relational schema on various kinds of file formats and physical storage mechanisms within and also outside the Hadoop HDFS clusters.

SQL queries are always run against these schemas that we have just discussed in the form of MapReduce jobs. There is a limited set of write capabilities and interaction with the data in Apache Hive. Apache Hive is meant for the execution of batch transformation and also for the execution of large analytical queries.

[ Related Article: Hadoop MapReduce in BigData ]

When to use Apache Hive?

Traditional RDBMS professionals would love to use Apache Hive, as they can simply map HDFS files to Hive tables and query the data. Even the HBase tables can be mapped and Hive can be used to operate on that data.

Apache Hive should be used for data warehousing requirements and when the programmers do not want to write complex MapReduce code. However, not all problems can be solved using apache hive. For big data applications that require complex and fine-grained processing, Hadoop MapReduce is the best choice.

[ Related Article: Hive Vs Impala - Differences ]

What is Apache HBase - The NoSQL Hadoop Database:

Apache Hadoop HBase has its own loopholes and one of the biggest of them is the non-availability of services that can make random access capabilities possible. HBase comes to the rescue to add the necessary capabilities to Apache Hadoop when it is used in conjunction with it.

HBase is known to scale horizontally using the off-the-shelf region servers and it is also known to be highly available, consistent, and only on the lower side of the latency NoSQL database. HBase has a large set of flexible data models which are cost-effective and have no sharding. HBase works pretty well with sparse data.

Few of the questions that you must pose yourself with, before using HBase for any of your Hadoop use cases:

  • Do you have sufficient hardware?
  • Do your applications require those additional features that RDBMS does not provide?
  • Do you have enough data?

[ Related Article: Learn Hadoop Tutorial ]

When to use HBase:

Apache Hadoop is not a perfect Big Data framework all by itself for real-time analytics and this is when you would want to rely on HBase to add the additional features that you would want – to be able to query real-time data.

Random reads and writes are also another requirement from your use case to lean over HBase as an ideal Big Data solution in conjunction with Apache Hadoop. Accessing the data that is required can also be achieved by storing the data required in any of the NoSQL databases. HBase provides a rich set of APIs that can be used to pull and push data to it.

HBase finds its use cases where it can be perfectly integrated with Apache Hadoop MapReduce jobs for bulk operations that involve analytics, indexing, and the like. One of the best ways to use HBase is to make the repository as Hadoop for all the static data and make HBase the datastore where the data can be stored will change in real-time after processing.

You may consider using HBase in your Organization or in your use cases when you need the following features from HBase:

  • When there are huge amounts of data being considered
  • When ACID properties are not considered mandatory but are just required
  • When the data model schema is sparse
  • When your application needs scalability and that too gracefully

[ Related Article: Hadoop Interview Questions & Answers ]

Hive vs HBase - Which is Better?

With the understanding that we have gained through the sections earlier explaining each of the technologies that we wanted to learn in this article, it is a good opportunity for us to discuss further the differences between them.

This will not only provide a greater understanding of the products that you’ve known until now but also gives you an edge in making the necessary decisions, deciding upon which one to use in what situation. Let us take a closer look at the differences between Hive and HBase, shall we?

Apache Hive is a query engine
HBase is a data storage which is particular for unstructured data
Apache Hive is not ideally a database but it is a MapReduce based SQL engine that runs atop Hadoop
HBase is a NoSQL database that is commonly used for real-time data streaming
Apache Hive is used for batch processing (that means, OLAP based)
HBase is extremely used for transactional processing, and in the process, the query response time is not highly interactive (that means OLTP)
Operations in Hive don’t run in real-time
Operations in HBase are said to run in real-time on the database instead of transforming into MapReduce jobs
Apache Hive is to be used for analytical queries
HBase is to be used for real-time queries
Apache Hive has limitations of higher latency
HBase doesn’t have any analytical capabilities

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Hive and HBase –Better Together:

HBase and Hive are used in conjunction with the same Hadoop cluster to attain and achieve more than just by using either of the products in the cluster. Some of these points are worth mentioning, that these two technologies should work hand in hand rather than one against the other. Let us take a look at the use cases where these two technologies go hand in hand:

  • It is said to be a good option to use Hive as an ETL tool for batch inserts into HBase and then to execute queries that can further join data present on HBase tables with the data that is already present on HDFS systems.
  • It is very much possible to write down HiveQL queries on HBase tables so that it can make the best usage of Hive’s grammar and parser query execution engine and also the query planner.
  • Apache Hive has a specific library to interact with HBase in specific where there is a mediator layer developed between Hive and HBase.
  • One of the issues that need to be considered when we integrate Hive with HBase is the impedance mismatch between HBase’s sparse and un-typed schema over Hive’s dense and typed schema.


In this article, we have known in great detail about Apache Hive and HBase and discussed them individually. In order to understand the offerings of these two technologies, we have tried to showcase the differences between them. Having said that, we have also let you know the advantages of both of these technologies can be used in conjunction to achieve much more than just using either of these technologies.

Hive and HBase are two different Hadoop-based technologies where Hive is a SQL-like engine that runs MapReduce jobs, and on the contrary, HBase is a NoSQL key/value database on Hadoop. Hive can be used for analytical queries while HBase for real-time querying. Data can even be read and written from Hive to HBase and back again.

List of Other Big Data Courses:

 Hadoop Administration MapReduce
 Big Data On AWS Informatica Big Data Integration
 Bigdata Greenplum DBA Informatica Big Data Edition
 Hadoop Hive Impala
 Hadoop Testing Apache Mahout


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Last updated: 03 Apr 2023
About Author

Ravindra Savaram is a Technical Lead at His passion lies in writing articles on the most popular IT platforms including Machine learning, DevOps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, RPA, Deep Learning, and so on. You can stay up to date on all these technologies by following him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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