Choosing The Right Database System For Your Business
In our technologically advanced business world today, databases play an essential role in driving business initiatives forward. Continuous advances in storage technologies, data collection methods and processing power enable our businesses to capture, aggregate and analyze information from countless spectrum of sources. The opportunities are endless, but with these opportunities come daunting challenges. Database selection can be a major challenge for companies as Internet Technologies become more entangled in a collaborative effort to make today’s business arena more agile.
On one side of the scale, the options for assembling the ideal solution for a given data application have never been better; on the other side, choosing the right components for that solution is ever more confusing and complex.
Therefore, having few key points in mind when making a decision can make the difference between a temporary cure for the immediate problem, or a long term investment which will aid your business thrive in the future. Having this in mind, concentrate on what is needed over how the need will be addressed. Focusing on the need rather than creating a requirement for a specific implementation opens the door for other methods that may provide a more optimal solution, particularly if you are forced to tradeoff between the strengths and weaknesses of various options.
With more than 200 options in the industry, there is absolutely no question that you will find the ideal solution for your business. However, there is a possibility that the wrong choice might also be implemented as well due to lack of due-diligence from any of the responsible parties involved in the development process. Therefore having few key points in mind will help you determine the right solution for your business. Let’s go over some of the key features which will help us determine what’s the right solution…
Type Of Databases
From relational database management systems (RDBMS) through specialized graphics, object and columnar databases, many types of databases have evolved to meet a wide range of common and specialized applications. For most applications, the two most important categories are:
1. SQL (Based) RDBMS: Relational databases, the most widely used model which maintains data in a set of separate, related files (tables), and combines elements from these files when needed for queries and reports. Designed primarily to handle structured data, these databases are heavily used for workhorse business applications in areas such as finance, manufacturing and human resources, which use SQL queries to access data maintained in standard record formats. Popular SQL RDBMS examples include PostgreSQL (open source), Oracle, MySQL (also Oracle), SQL Server (Microsoft) and DB2 (IBM).
2. NoSQL: These databases provide a solution for handling data that is less structured than required for relational databases. Trading query processing flexibility for scalability and performance under different workloads, these databases focus on data storage and are optimized for retrieval and appending operations. These characteristics make NoSQL databases attractive for cloud deployment and Big Data applications. Popular NoSQL database examples (all open source) include MongoDB, CouchDB, Cassandra, Riak, Hadoop, Redis and Neo4j.
All databases do not operate on all available platforms. Desktop (Windows, OS X), mobile (iOS, Android), enterprise (Linux, Illumos/OpenSolaris, BSD), and cloud (Amazon EC2, Joyent, GoGrid, Rackspace) operating platforms each have their own nuances and constraints that affect database cost, capacity and performance. Even when a given database covers multiple platforms, it may support some better than others, so as mentioned in our previous article, knowing your system and what exactly you want to accomplish with the new system is extremely important.
Database User Licensing:
How a database is licensed can dramatically impact its cost as well, risk profile and usage flexibility. Commercially available databases charge licensing and maintenance costs for regular releases and stronger support, but can be costly to scale, restrictive in usage and require vendor resources if modifications or extensions are required. An increasing number of databases are being offered through open-source licensing. This model cuts licensing costs and usage restrictions, but requires a greater investment in internal and/or external support.
Database System Maturity:
With new databases reaching the market on a frequent basis, it is often appealing to try the latest and the most up to date system to get the newest features. Unfortunately, these databases often have more defects, security vulnerabilities and performance and stability issues than more-mature systems in the same category. Maturity provides a larger user base and a longer time period to identify and remedy issues and strengthen support. Unless newly offered features are essential for the business solution, a more mature system is usually the best choice. Investigate characteristics such as length of time on the market, number of users, and level of support to compare determine if you would like to go with the newest systems or something that has been around for a long time and can be more effective in your current scenario.
Operations & Management:
The cost of maintaining and operating a database over its life often exceeds its acquisition costs. Depending on your data center environment and the size, skill sets and strategy for your internal IT organization, your company can choose to implement and support a database with its own staff, or use one of many available outsourcing options. Any aspect of the database’s selection, implementation, application software development, support and operations can be outsourced to external consultants as a project or as part of a broader service.
Likewise, the database can be hosted by an external solution provider. Some hosting services include regular database backup and maintenance activities, as well as disaster recovery services that provide extra security and free internal IT staff to perform more strategic tasks. Cloud deployment is a variation of external hosting where the database operates on a cloud-computing platform offered by Amazon EC2, GoGrid, Rackspace or other Cloud Service providers.
Databases vary considerably in the capabilities of their operational attributes. Attributes such as hyper performance and high availability come at a price in terms of software, hardware and support overhead. The true requirements of the business functions being supported are the key for finding the most effective balance between these attributes and their cost. In some cases, not all of the features of the system will be needed, therefore careful planning and current systems assessment are the stepping stones of the new database selection process.
Database performance is judged by factors such as response time per query and transaction throughput, and is affected by the design of the database, infrastructure capacity, and the logical and physical structure of the data. For example, using a schema imposes more structure on the underlying data but provides better performance due to the constraints and the other way around.
Scalability evaluates the ability of a database to handle anticipated growth in usage, transaction rates and data volume. Considerations include essential product limitations, ease of increasing load capacity by adding hardware, and costs for additional licenses and hardware to handle expected growth should also be factored in the decision making process. Scalability is the most important aspect of the database, as it determines when is the next time your company will invest in the database system update/upgrade to propel the business forward in the future.
Availability measures whether a database is available for use when needed. A database designed for high availability would disable a malfunctioning component and continue operating at a reduced capacity, as opposed to a less capable system that might crash and become totally non-operational.
This factor assesses a database’s ability to recover from faults such as hardware crashes, overloads and software component failures. Simple databases may require restoration from backup files after a failure, whereas a more advanced database may employ sophisticated replication, rollback and component isolation strategies to permit continued operation and minimize the impact of faults.
Databases offer differing levels of security features to protect the database from security vulnerabilities such as unauthorized access or disclosure of personal or proprietary data; damage to the data or programs; interruption or denial of authorized access to the database; attacks on other systems; and the unanticipated failure of database services. The level of security protection required for a given database application depends on the confidentiality/value of the data it contains and its level of accessibility to unauthorized activities.
A database’s data integrity features enable the specification and enforcement of rules to protect the quality of the data it stores. These rules may include checks and correction for invalid data upon entry, restrictions on data relationships, and timeframes for data retention. Ease of implementation: Choosing the database with the best features will not necessarily guarantee a successful implementation. The availability of tools, staffing and support for a widely used database can outplay the technical advantages of a less common system.
Availability Of Tools:
A mature, widely used database will be supported by a variety of open-source and commercial tools to assist with software development, integration with other products, backup and recovery, and other critical functions. These tools increase productivity and cut time and costs throughout implementation and operation.
Does the database support simple ways of adding functionality outside of its standard feature set? Does your company have access to the source code, the skills and ability to make modifications? Does the database have interfaces to support externally developed functionality, or can it take advantage of the capabilities of other software applications? For example, an otherwise ideal database may not support the data encryption your company needs by itself, but if it can be run using an encrypted file system, the combination becomes a viable solution. Always consult with an independent I.T. Specialist in order to properly assess your needs. Having more than one consulting source can significantly increase your chances of success in the process.
Knowledge & Staffing:
Is the new database familiar to your internal IT staff? If not, it will require an investment for training or the hiring of external resources. For example, while many enterprise programmers know how to code effective SQL queries, far fewer would be comfortable working on systems which they have not implemented themselves, and are not properly documented. Make sure you can hammer out these Issues as early as possible to be able to properly address your current scenario effectively.
Successfully implementing a new database involves considerations well beyond the selection of the database itself. If your company doesn’t already have the right expertise in house, engaging specialized consulting assistance can be highly valuable. By hiring an independent consulting services you can lower development timeframes, you can properly assess your current system and in addition to this you will have a guarantee that your project will have survivability in the future if things go wrong at any point in time. However, if you have an extensive staff of I.T Professionals in house, then this can work for your benefit as well, as internal I.T. at times knows more about the current system’s nuances than the new consulting firm which will be hired for assessment. In the ideal circumstances, your internal I.T. should work hand in hand with an outsourced consulting firm to properly address all the issues before the project is launched for development.
The Loan Consultants’ Lifetime Support:
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