It is well known that a database is the fundamental building block for any data-based initiative. Databases are used when collecting, storing, processing, and analyzing data. A database is the silent component that drives business decisions and operational improvements or simply keeps track of inventory. As much as the database should be the almost invisible part of these processes, it is crucial to make the right choice. While it might look easy to select a suitable database, there are a few things to evaluate when making a decision.
Let’s look at five things you need to evaluate when picking a new database for your next data project.
You might think of a database as something static, and, in the past, you would have been correct with this assumption. Databases used to provide static storage that offered a selectable data retrieval option. But as databases are being used in more places and the amount of data that is being handled by them is growing, they need to be flexible as well.
But what does flexibility mean in a database context? Any database can store numbers and text, and most of what you want to store can be represented in either of the two. While this, in theory, is true, it will only cover the pure storage element and not handle the data part. You need to consider the type of data your database can handle and how. Object, or document, data is becoming an ever-present type of data. While this type of data could be stored in text only or be deconstructed and stored with numbers and text, you would lose information and create additional overhead—and would not be able to handle complete objects easily in queries.
So, take a good look at the type of data you can store and use with your future database. And, of course, also consider what you might need in the future.
Support for various data types is not the only area where your new database needs to be flexible, though. Another critical aspect is scalability. While a database might fit your needs today, a growing amount of data and an increasing demand for data-driven decisions require your new database to grow with your needs. While most database solutions out there allow you to add additional capacity as you expand, consider how this happens. Do you need to change your complete database architecture just because you need more storage capacity? What if you need more performance to perform queries? Does the database scale linearly, or is there some overhead? Your next database solution should be flexible and elastic.
We now have covered data types and scalability, but we are not done with flexibility just yet. Your database should also be flexible regarding where you can run it. Can you run it on the edge, in a public cloud, or a private cloud? While the answer to this in most cases would also be yes, there is more to consider than just running it. What do you get in either of these deployment models, and are there differences in functionality that you might need to consider? Once again, do not just look at what you want to do today; think of what might happen in the future.