How the data in your app is managed plays a crucial role in providing a great user experience. No matter how well your app's interface is designed or how clean your code is, none of it matters unless your application can swiftly retrieve, process, and deliver information. Your data also needs to be protected from potential intruders. Thankfully, all of these points can be achieved by selecting the right database management system.
A database is where you store and organize all of the data your app intakes, while a database management system (DBMS) is the software you can use for managing this database conveniently. With over 300 database management systems on the market, choosing the right one can feel quite overwhelming. Luckily, we've done it for you in this article. Here are the top databases on the market, along with how to choose the right database for your unique needs.
Related: NoSQL vs SQL: Which is Better?
What To Consider When Choosing A Database
There are several important considerations when choosing the right database management tool:
SQL databases are perfect for storing and processing structured data, and NoSQL databases are best when working with semi-structured or unstructured data. You can also mix SQL and NoSQL databases to manage both structured and unstructured data.
As your web product’s usage continues to expand, your database should as well. Which database you end up choosing will determine how you scale. Do you like horizontal scaling or vertical? For horizontal scaling, non-relational databases with key-value stores are optimal. For vertical scaling, relational databases are suitable.
A database needs to be well-protected- after all, it stores all of your user data! Non-relational databases are less secure than ACID-compliant relational databases, which swap consistency and security for performance and scalability. If you go for a NoSQL database, you may need to take additional steps for protection.
You need to ensure that your database management system can be integrated with other tools and services in your project. Poor integration with other solutions can slow down development.
Popular Database Management Systems
OracleDB is an RDBMS developed in 1977. To this day, OracleDB remains the most well-known and well-regarded database solution. As of the date this article is published, DB-Engines Ranking ranks OracleDB first. So why is OracleDB so popular and well-liked? Here are some of the reasons OracleDB remains the industry standard:
- It scales well and can tackle an extensive scope of data. Currently, Oracle is bringing all of its products and services to the cloud, which allows for more flexibility.
- It's backed by Oracle and is thus reliable. OracleDB rarely goes down and is updated regularly.
- OracleDB is extraordinarily secure and scrupulously abides by all modern security standards (such as PCI compliance), and offers reliable encryption of any sensitive data you may have.
- This tool manages memory at a highly efficient level and can quickly deal with complex operations. Moreover, OracleDB can effectively manage and organize a diverse range of third-party tools.
- OracleDB regularly outperforms other solutions across the network in speed of data access.
Of course, any tool has its downsides. Some cons to OracleDB include:
- Along with being the most popular DBMS, OracleDB is also one of the most expensive DBMS. The Standard Edition Processor License will cost your company $17,500 per unit.
- Oracle has somewhat complicated documentation and a lack of straightforward guides. While customer support can be quite helpful in this regard, developers may find long response times to be an annoyance.
When you consider all of these factors, OracleDB can be a perfect match for large enterprises to store a large scope of data. Small to mid-sized businesses may want to look for more cost-effective alternatives as they continue to grow.
Related: What Is Design Thinking
One of the most popular relational database management systems, MySQL, was created in 1995 and is now managed by Oracle. MySQL is an open-source database system that boasts an enormous user base and fantastic support. It also works great with most libraries and frameworks. MySQL is free, but it offers extra functionality for an additional price. Developers can use and install MySQL without having to spend a lot of time setting it up. Most tasks can be accomplished in the command line. MySQL is considered a well-structured database with regular updates. At the basic level, MySQL works perfectly with structured data. However, if you plan to scale your product in the future, you'll probably need extra support, which will cost you quite a chunk of change. Additionally, there is a lot of time required to generate incremental backups or alter the data architecture MySQL, while its competitors do this automatically. Many modern app companies such as Uber, Tesla, Facebook, Youtube, Netflix, Spotify, and Airbnb use MySQL.
Looking to develop your app? Make your project come to life with SF AppWorks!
PostgreSQL functions as an object-relational database, meaning that it works like a relational database. All of the data is represented in the form of objects rather than rows and columns. PostgreSQL is an excellent choice for larger systems since it's highly scalable and engineered to handle multiple terabytes of data. Advanced security is provided by its hierarchy of roles to maintain user permissions.
PostgreSQL is entirely free to use, unlike advanced versions of MySQL. Its open-source nature means that enthusiastic volunteers handle all documentation and support. However, if you have problems with PostgreSQL, their open-source system also means that there is little customer support, and you'll have to search for an expert to fix the issue on your own time. If you choose to move your app to PostgreSQL, it will allow you to simultaneously perform in and out operations and handle high loads easily.
MongoDB is one of the top NoSQL databases we utilize in our projects. MongoDB stores all the data in BSON (Binary JSON) documents. Due to this kind of data storage model, the data can be transferred easily and quickly between servers and web applications in a human-readable format. MongoDB offers onboard replication, which gives users high levels of availability and scalability. You can efficiently distribute data to servers connected with your app, thanks to auto-sharding services. MongoDB is an excellent solution across the board when it comes to dealing with massive unstructured data sets. MongoDB can underpin pretty much any big data system, not only as a real-time, operational data store but also in its offline capabilities.
However, there are several cons to this database platform. Since MongoDB stores critical names for each value pair, the memory use is more extensive than its competitors. Moreover, consistency is not enforced by foreign key constraints (since there are none), and you can't perform nesting past 100 levels. Boothapp, a social e-commerce platform for the Middle Eastern market, uses MongoDB (along with Redis, which we will discuss below).
An open-source key-value store, Redis is generally used as a caching layer to complement another data storage solution. Developers often utilize Redis due to its speed, which is far ahead of any other database management system. Redis is also very straightforward to configure, set up, and use. However, Redis doesn't have any built-in encryption and only stores five types of data: sets, lists, sorted sets, strings, and hashes. The main aim of Redis is to store data sets that don't have a complicated structure. That's why this tool is typically used in conjunction with another kind of database system and sometimes used for microservices. As Redis is an excellent caching solution, we often use it as a caching tool in our projects.
Mixing And Matching Databases
You can also use several databases in a single project. Keep in mind, however, that putting two databases together does not always work well. Developers should only decide to utilize multiple databases after careful analysis of the project's specific needs and clearly defining the product's tech stack. Redis, for example, is often used in conjunction with other kinds of database solutions. Redis is often chosen for its cache and token storage as it works much faster than different sorts of modern databases (as we discussed above). Pairing Redis and PostgreSQL, for example, will lend your project cache and token storage while taking advantage of PostgreSQL's security. This pair is relatively standard in app development since developers can easily and swiftly make references from Redis to PostgreSQL.
On the other hand, some pairs don't work well together. Using MongoDB and PostgreSQL, for example, is not a good idea since these databases are relatively equal when it comes to data storage and resource use. Say you have a social network like Instagram, and you need to store a large amount of information about posts, followers, likes, and user profiles. Data likes and posts are stored in MongoDB, while followers and user profiles are stored in PostgreSQL. If this is the case, then you have to take data about profiles from PostgreSQL, then data for posts from MongoDB- a significantly time-consuming and inefficient solution.
As we have discussed in the article above, there are many factors involved in choosing a database. These factors include the kind of data you're going to collect and process, how you're planning to integrate the data with other tools, and the scaling approach you decide on. Unlike what many amateurs think, it's not just a question of SQL or NoSQL. While proper data management may not be the first thing that comes to mind when optimizing the user experience, it absolutely should be.
SF AppWorks is an innovative digital agency committed to helping organizations, companies, and entrepreneurs explore and develop innovative technologies that improve people's lives. SF AppWorks can help you discover the optimal database solution for your web or mobile app. Work with us to find the right database for your app to create the best user experience.
Looking to turn your idea into reality? Work with SF AppWorks today!