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Newsletter >> July 2014 >> Choosing a Database - Technical and Business Perspective

Choosing a Database - Technical and Business Perspective

- By Anita and Renukeshwar

There are quite a variety of database products on the market today but database selection can be a major head-scratcher.

As  “There is no silver bullet in the database world”, it’s important to do a careful needs analysis before you dive in and commit to a database solution.

Here are a few questions that should be answered before choosing a database:

  • Which type of data you have? [Words (English/multilingual), numbers, images, movies, maps, HTML data, XML, movies, maps, XLS, PDF etc]
  • What is the volume of data that the database needs to contain? [Megabytes, terabytes or petabytes]
  • In what speed data is generated? [Bytes/sec, MBps or GBps]
  • How many people access it simultaneously?  [In the 10s, 100s, 1000s or millions]
  • What kind of data safety measures do you require?
  • Is it for an in-house project or is it going to be on the web?
  • What kind of growth potential is it going to have?
  • What are the licensing terms of the database software?What kind of budget do you have?

    There would be many more but these are basic questions that the developer must evaluate and from their make a decision how to proceed with a specific software project.


    Database features:

    Key features to be evaluated when choosing a database are –

    Data Security: It deals with all various aspects of protecting the database content from unauthorised access. Providing an access to the database through an authorized channel ensures that data security checks can be carried out whenever access is attempted to sensitive data.

    Data sharing: The data stored in the database can be shared among multiple users or application programs. With the data sharing, it is possible to satisfy the data requirements of the new applications without having to create any additional data or with minimal modification.

    Relational Database Capability: Link several databases together for more comprehensive information sharing.

    Query language: Allows searching for information and computing derived information. Database language are specific to particular data model (ex: SQL, OQL, XQuery ). Query language makes the data loading from database faster and easier.

    Backup and restore: Sometimes it is desired to bring a database back to a previous state for many reasons, e.g., cases when the database is found corrupted due to a software error, or if it has been updated with erroneous data. To achieve this backup operation can be done occasionally or continuously.

    Rich Set of Field Types: Specify text, numeric, file attachments, images or even compound fields and currency.

    Other database feature includes transactions and concurrency, migration, building maintaining and tuning, replication.

    Choosing an Efficient Database Management System:

    Every business, one-man-show, small, medium or large, must work with databases  and databases hold just about everything – content, blogs, forums, email lists, inventory, customer lists, requests to customer service, and more. Databases enable transactions and help business owners better understand existing and potential customers. Without databases, there can be no logistics management, no MIS, no e-commerce, no data mining and even no Web 2.0 or 3.0 or 4.0+. So, if a small business owner has to work with databases, how should he choose from the multiple database management solutions available in the market?

    1. Business Size and Scalability A small business may have limited database needs to start with, but then it should consider that it will experience growth maybe after 6-12 months. At that time, database migration may eat away into precious time and energy. So, database planning must be based on the medium-long term.

    Large businesses that have 1,000s of computers should work with mainframes (IBM, Oracle) while medium businesses can work with an open source or packaged solution (cloud-based or in-house server-based). The database solution depends on the size and scalability of the business.

    2. Affordability Today, it is possible to get a database system for a couple of hundred bucks. System cost vary depending on the features provided by system. Start-ups should buy a basic system or use freeware and then upgrade it when the need arises. Many companies now offer cloud-based SQL/NoSQL database management systems at low prices, and many business owners are opting for such solutions because of their efficiency and affordability. Plus, the maintenance and updates are taken care of by the cloud vendor, and that lifts a big financial burden off business owners’ shoulders (because otherwise they 2 would have to hire a database maintenance crew).

    3. Vendor Quality The database system developer must have a great track record along with many satisfied customers. Business owners must realise that databases must work efficiently and speedily on a 24/7 basis, and also offer tight security. Therefore, it makes sense to buy a database management system from a quality vendor.

    4. Retrieval and Interaction The database should hold complex data across different business areas and yet move smoothly, speedily and efficiently. A slow-moving database can ruin the user experience, alienate customers and drive them into the competitors’ arms. The database also must be able to filter data and present concise reports that help the management take appropriate decisions.

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