ClickHouse v/s PostgreSQL & MySQL for Real-time Analytics

“ClickHouse, with its columnar storage approach, is inherently suited for high-velocity data ingestion and real-time analytics, offering superior performance, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, making it a strategic choice for organizations seeking real-time insights and decision-making.”


In the realm of data analytics, the choice of database technology significantly influences performance, costs, and overall efficiency. Traditional Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) like PostgreSQL and MySQL, while robust and widely used, face limitations when tasked with real-time analytics. On the other hand, modern systems like ClickHouse, designed with columnar data storage, offer distinct advantages in handling high-velocity data ingestion and real-time analytics.

Limitations of PostgreSQL and MySQL in Real-Time Analytics

Performance Constraints

  1. Row-Oriented Storage: RDBMS store data in rows, making them efficient for transactional processing. However, this model becomes inefficient for analytical queries that typically scan large datasets, leading to longer query times.
  2. Indexing Overhead: While indexes speed up data retrieval, they can become a bottleneck in real-time analytics, especially with large data volumes where maintaining and updating indexes is costly in terms of performance.
  3. Concurrency and Locking: High concurrency, a common scenario in real-time analytics, can lead to locking and blocking issues in RDBMS, impacting performance negatively.
  4. Limited Parallel Processing: Traditional RDBMSs often have restricted capabilities in parallel query processing, limiting their ability to handle large-scale analytical workloads efficiently.

Cost Implications

  1. Scaling Challenges: Scaling an RDBMS for high-demand analytics often means vertical scaling (upgrading hardware), which is costlier compared to horizontal scaling (adding more nodes) offered by more modern solutions.
  2. Resource Intensiveness: The CPU and memory requirements for processing large datasets in real-time analytics can lead to increased hardware costs.
  3. Maintenance and Complexity: The overhead of maintaining indexes, optimizing queries, and managing database health adds to the total cost of ownership.

ClickHouse: Leveraging Columnar Storage for Enhanced Performance

High Performance and Velocity Data Ingestion

  1. Columnar Storage Model: ClickHouse stores data in columns, drastically improving query performance for analytical workloads. It allows for reading only the necessary columns from disk, reducing I/O operations.
  2. Data Compression: Columnar data is highly compressible, and ClickHouse utilizes efficient compression techniques. This results in reduced storage costs and faster data retrieval.
  3. Vectorized Query Execution: ClickHouse’s vectorized query processing enables operating on multiple data points in a single CPU cycle, significantly speeding up data processing.
  4. Massive Parallel Processing: Designed for parallel processing, ClickHouse can distribute queries across multiple nodes, making it ideal for handling large datasets and complex analytical queries.

Strategic Advantages in Real-Time Analytics

  1. Scalability: ClickHouse’s architecture allows for easy horizontal scaling, aligning with the growing data volumes without a proportional increase in costs.
  2. Real-Time Insights: The speed and efficiency of ClickHouse enable real-time data analysis, providing businesses with timely insights for quick decision-making.
  3. Reduced Total Cost of Ownership: With lower hardware requirements due to efficient data storage and processing, and the ability to scale horizontally, ClickHouse offers a more cost-effective solution for data analytics projects.
  4. Simplicity and Maintenance: The reduced need for indexing and simpler data models lower the complexity and cost of database maintenance.


While RDBMS platforms like PostgreSQL and MySQL have their strengths, particularly in transactional processing, their architecture poses significant limitations in the context of real-time analytics. These limitations translate into performance bottlenecks and increased costs. In contrast, ClickHouse, with its columnar storage approach, is inherently suited for high-velocity data ingestion and real-time analytics. It offers superior performance, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, making it a strategic choice for organizations looking to leverage data analytics for real-time insights and decision-making.

To learn more about ClickHouse for real-time analytics, do consider reading the following articles:

About Shiv Iyer 215 Articles
Open Source Database Systems Engineer with a deep understanding of Optimizer Internals, Performance Engineering, Scalability and Data SRE. Shiv currently is the Founder, Investor, Board Member and CEO of multiple Database Systems Infrastructure Operations companies in the Transaction Processing Computing and ColumnStores ecosystem. He is also a frequent speaker in open source software conferences globally.