Databases for Business: The big comparison of relevant database software

31.10.2022
by Meike Müller
Softwareentwicklung
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Databases are used in every company with its own IT infrastructure. They are needed, for example, for merchandise management systems, enterprise resource planning, content management systems and customer relationship management. But databases are also important for online stores. In this article we would like to explain why you need databases and how they work. We also want to introduce what types of databases there are and which ones you could use for your purposes. Stay tuned if your business needs a consistent database to use software like the one mentioned above. If you need assistance in using and creating databases, or if you have general questions about software development, we'll be happy to be your strong partner.

Reading time 15 min

 

Table of Contents:

  1. Why do you need databases at all? And who needs them?
  2. How does a database work? Difference between database and database management system
    1. Types of database models
      1. Hierarchical, network, relational, object-oriented, document-oriented database model
      2. Comparison of different databases
        1. MySQL
        2. Mongo DB
        3. Apache Cassandra
        4. Maria DB
        5. Redis
        6. Google Firebase with Realtime Database and Cloud Firestone
        7. Microsoft Azure SQL Database
        8. Amazon Web Services (AWS and RDS)
        9. Elasticsearch
  3. Our conclusion
  4. FAQ

Why do you need databases in the first place? And who needs them?

Databases can be used to manage electronic records and data. The data is collected and logically structured in the database. Using a so-called database management system, affiliations and access rights can then be defined in more detail. To be able to really use a database, a suitable database application must be used. With this application, the database can not only be opened, but also read and edited.

So much for the very technical definition of a database. In simple terms, a database is used to manage data (for example, within your company) and to retrieve important information in a timely manner and in bundles. It is suitable for ejecting content in a particularly clear manner so that it can be reused. In addition, you have the option of distributing rights as to which employee or which system can read which data. This helps your company, for example, in customer management and processing. A database is to be distinguished from a collection of files in a folder on your computer. Often the term database is used, although it is not a database in the technical sense.

Actually, every company with an IT environment needs a database. This is because if software is used or data is collected and queried, a database system must be used. Systems such as CRM, ERP and CMS, for example, also function on the basis of a database. In this way, relevant information can be stored and played out to a user.

How does a database work? Difference between a database and a database management system

A database can only function with the help of a DBMS, i.e. a database management system. It manages data, plays out data sets and also serves as data storage. A DBMS is a mandatory part of a database. You can't use a database without a database management system. Nowadays, almost every software is based on a database system.

The main difference between database and database management system is this:

The database stores the records and is also called the database. The database management system is the software used to manage the database. Without it, retrieving the information stored in the records would not be possible at all. It determines the access rights as well as the structure of the data. For the administration usually also a separate database language is used as well as a database model. The database model is responsible for the architecture of the database system.

Types of database models

A database model is a collection of concepts that can be used to describe the structure of a database. It also contains the structure of a database, including the relationships between different data elements. In addition, it usually includes information about how data is stored, retrieved, and updated.

The most common database models are the relational model, the network model, and the hierarchical model. In a relational model, data is organized into tables and fields, while in a network model, data is organized into nodes and arcs. In a hierarchical model, the data is arranged in a tree structure.

Each of these models has its own advantages and disadvantages. The relational model is the most popular model because it is easy to understand and use. The network model is better suited for processing large amounts of data, while the hierarchical model is better suited for organizing data in a specific structure. Furthermore, there are the object-oriented and the document-oriented database models. We would like to explain these models to you in more detail below:

Hierarchical database model

In this type of model, the data is arranged in a tree-like structure, where each data element has a single "parent" and zero or more "children". With the following example, we would like to explain the tree-like structure:

Suppose we have a database of animals. Each animal in our database has a species (e.g., dog, cat, bird, etc.), and each species has several different subcategories (e.g., dog breeds, cat breeds, bird species, etc.). In a hierarchical model, this data would be arranged as follows:

Animals

- species

-- Dog

--- Golden Retriever

--- Labrador Retriever

--- German shepherd dog

-- Cat

---Siamese

-- Bengal

-- Bird

--- Parakeet

--- Finch

Each part of the data in our example -- animals, species, subcategories -- is called a "node". In the hierarchical model, nodes are arranged in a specific order, that is, each node has exactly one parent node (except for the very first node), and each node can have zero or more child nodes. This relationship between nodes is called the "parent-child" relationship.

The hierarchical model is so very efficient when it comes to storing data that can be classified into subsets. In fact, it allows you to find all animals that fall under a certain category (e.g., all dogs, all cats, all birds) without having to dig through unrelated entries. For example, if you want to add a new dog breed, you simply create a new node and add it to the correct place in your hierarchy.

One drawback of the model, however, is that it's difficult to represent the relationship between data that can't be divided into subsets. In our example, it would be difficult to mark animals as siblings. In addition, retrieving information from a hierarchical model can be quite slow. Since each piece of data can only have one parent node, we often have to traverse the hierarchy multiple times to find the information we are looking for. For these reasons, the hierarchical model is not usually used in modern databases.

Networked database model

In a networked database model, data is organized into a series of linked nodes. Each node represents an entity, such as a piece of information or an object. The links between the nodes represent relationships. An important aspect of the networked database model is that it allows relationships between multiple entities. This means that a single node can be linked to multiple other nodes and vice versa. In contrast, other models such as the hierarchical model only allow one-to-many relationships, as we explained to you above.

The main advantages of the network-type database model include flexibility, efficiency, and scalability. The main disadvantage is that querying data in this model can be difficult. A network-type database model is suitable for a system that needs to store a large amount of data and allow users to access the data from multiple locations.

Relational database model

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to search and retrieve information on Web sites? Chances are, the website uses a relational database model to store and organize its data.

So what exactly is a relational database model? In a nutshell, it is a way of organizing data into tables that are linked together by common attributes. These links allow for easy retrieval and updating of information. Each table contains rows and columns, where each column represents a particular attribute and each row contains a particular record. For example, in a customer database, each row would represent a single customer, and the columns might contain things like name, address, phone number, etc. The relational aspect comes into play because there can also be links between these tables - for example, a separate "orders" table linked to the customer table by a customer ID. This makes it easy to pull up all the purchase orders for a particular customer without having to manually search through multiple records. Overall, relational databases provide an efficient and organized way to manage large amounts of data. A relational database model is suitable for both large and small businesses.

Object-oriented database model

Unlike traditional models, object-oriented databases store data as objects or individual entities with their own attributes and relationships. This allows for greater flexibility and easier manipulation of data. In addition, object-oriented databases typically provide support for object-oriented programming languages such as Java, making them a popular choice for software development.

The object-oriented database model is best suited for storing complex interconnected data. In this model, data is organized into objects that contain both attributes and behaviors. For example, a person object may have attributes such as name and age and behaviors such as "get address" or "change phone number." These objects can then be linked to other objects, creating a web of interconnected information. This makes the object-oriented model perfect for managing data in areas where there are many relationships between entities, such as finance or healthcare. It also allows flexibility in adding new attributes and behaviors without having to restructure the entire database. So if you're dealing with complicated, interrelated data, the object-oriented database model may be the right choice.

Document-oriented database model

A document-oriented database model differs from other databases in its structure and design. Instead of organizing data into rows and columns, information is stored as "documents" that contain all the necessary information about a particular topic or entity. This makes it well suited for managing unstructured or rapidly changing data, such as blog posts or user profiles. It also allows for faster retrieval of related information because documents can be easily linked together. Overall, a document-oriented model can provide an efficient and flexible solution for managing dynamic data.

Comparison of different databases

Now you know the different database models and roughly who or what they are suitable for. But now you probably want to know which databases really exist, what features they have and so on... For this reason we have taken a look at the most common databases and analyzed them more closely. We would like to show you which advantages and disadvantages the databases have and which details can help you in your decision to choose the right database. We will take a closer look at the following aspects of each database:

  • Type of database model: we'll look at which type of database model presented previously each database fits.
  • Licensing: What about licensing? In which models can the database be "bought"?
  • Speed of the database: Of course, the performance of your systems is incredibly important for your business. That's why we take a closer look at database speed.
  • Suitability for large amounts of data: Want to be able to store, retrieve and process any amount of data? We take a look at which database is suitable for your requirements.
  • Easy administration and administration tools: Your database should be easy to manage. We check how the administration works and whether tools are available to you.
  • Cloud or on-premise: A cloud database is located on servers and storage and can be easily accessed via the Internet. On-premise solutions, on the other hand, are located on your company's local network. Depending on the purpose of the application, one is better suited than the other.
  • Compatibility with operating systems: Which operating systems is the database compatible with? Or does it even work platform-independently?
  • Support: Does the company offer support in the form of live chats, e-mail support, a telephone hotline or an FAQ in case of problems with the database?
  • Open Source: Is the database open source? Because if so, you can access the code.
  • Paid features: Are there any additional features or functions to your chosen database variant that are also paid for?

MySQL

MySQL was developed in its current form by the company Oracle. It is a database that is particularly suitable for dynamic web presences. For example, it is used for all WordPress sites, but the database can also be used for online stores with Shopware.

MySQL Advantages MySQL disadvantages
  • There is an open source variant
  • The database is reliable (high availability)
  • Fast database query
  • High compatibility with other systems, programming languages, etc.
  • High security
  • High cost of licensing the enterprise version
  • A crash could permanently damage the system catalog
  • Type of database model: Relational database management system (also use of client server model)
  • Licensing: Open source free and expensive commercial version
  • Speed of the database: Generally high speed, fast data retrieval
  • Suitability for large amounts of data: Yes, but performance deteriorates as the amount of data grows
  • Easy administration and administration tools: MySQL is easy to learn and use
  • Cloud or on-premise: Both
  • Compatibility with operating systems: Suitable for various operating systems
  • Support: Oracle offers, for example, telephone support and 24/7 live chat for customers
  • Open source: Available as open source software and commercial enterprise version
  • Paid features: Yes

 

MongoDB

MongoDB is a document-oriented database system that was released back in 2009. It is written in the C++ programming language and runs on Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS and OpenBSD operating systems.

MongoDB offers different versions. For example, there is the free Mongo DB Community Server for Windows, OS X and Linux, as well as Mongo DB Enterprise Server for commercial use and Mongo DB Atlas, an on-demand cloud database for GCP, Azure and AWS. Overall, MongoDB has three different pricing tiers: shared for $0 per month, dedicated for $57 per month and serverless starting at $0.30 per million reads.

MongoDB Advantages MongoDB Disadvantages
  • Flexible and adaptable when dealing with unknown data structures
  • Good for unstructured data
  • Changes can be made easily
  • Good scaling
  • Storage of different file types is possible. Tech stack is not affected
  • Complex transactions
  • Memory consumption is quite high
  • There are no built-in memory usage analytics
  • No stored procedures, so no implementation of your business logic to the database level
  • Type of database model: NoSQL (i.e. not relational)
  • Licensing: Free and paid versions
  • Database speed: High speed
  • Suitability for large amounts of data: Yes
  • Easy administration and administration tools: Administration is easy
  • Cloud or on-premise: Both
  • Compatibility with operating systems: Compatible with many operating systems
  • Support: For Mongo DB Community there is the Mongo DB Community Forum, for Mongo DB Atlas a support ticket can be opened in the account, for MongoDB Enterprise a ticket can be opened via the Mongo DB Support Portal
  • Open Source: The community version is open source.
  • Paid features: Yes

 

Apache Cassandra

The database software Apache Cassandra was launched in July 2008 by the Apache Software Foundation. Cassandra is a NoSQL database system, which is particularly well suited as database software for companies. This is because the simple database management system has great resilience and scales well.

Apache Cassandra Advantages Apache Cassandra disadvantages
  • Speed advantage over other database programs
  • Support for MapReduc
  • high scalability of the database program (horizontal)
  • high reliability
  • cross-platform compatibility with many operating systems
  • high fault tolerance
  • Performance problems can occur if the data model is poorly designed
  • Due to architecture distribution, replicas may be inconsistent
  • Type of database model: NoSQL
  • Licensing: Open source Apache license version 2
  • Speed of the database: High speed
  • Suitability for large amounts of data: Yes
  • Easy administration and administration tools: Yes
  • Cloud or on-premise: Both
  • Compatibility with operating systems: Is given
  • Support: Paid support through DataStax
  • Open Source: Available
  • Paid Features: No, not available

 

MariaDB

MariaDB evolved from MySQL as a database management system. The enterprise version of MariaDB is mainly a database for companies. It is suitable for mission-critical application due to its high performance. MariaDB database was released in October 2009 and works in combination with Microsoft Windows, OpenBSD, Solaris, macOS and Linux operating systems.

MariaDB Advantages MariaDB disadvantages
  • Fast backups
  • High performance
  • MariaDB is suitable for mission-critical applications
  • After switching to MariaDB, it is not possible to switch back to MySQl
  • Type of database model: Relational database model
  • Licensing: Maria DB Enterprise Version and Maria DB Community Server
  • Database speed: High
  • Suitability for large amounts of data: Yes
  • Easy administration and administration tools: Yes
  • Cloud or on-premise: Both
  • Compatibility with operating systems: Yes
  • Support: Contact form or as a customer MariaDB support
  • Open Source: Opensource license for enterprise and community version
  • Paid features: No

 

Redis

Redis is an in-memory database, i.e. a database that uses the RAM of a computer to store the data. It thus also belongs to the NoSQL databases and was released in April 2009. Redis is mainly suitable for simple data structures and is also used as a cache for websites and more.

Redis Advantages Redis Disadvantages
  • Redis is faster than relational databases
  • Vertical and horizontal scaling possible
  • not suitable for complex data
  • Redis requires a lot of memory, which is associated with costs
  • Risk of losing data when computer is off, as data is not persistent
  • Type of database model: NoSQL
  • Licensing: Various licensing options from open source to Redis Enterprise
  • Speed of the database: High
  • Suitability for large amounts of data: No
  • Easy administration and administration tools: Yes
  • Cloud or on-premise: Both
  • Compatibility with operating systems: Yes
  • Support: Commercial support for the enterprise version or community support from the community itself
  • Open Source: Yes
  • Paid features: No

 

Google Firebase: Realtime Database and Cloud Firestore

Cloud Firestore Advantages Cloud Firestore Disadvantages
  • iOS, Android and web SDKs with offline data access
  • High usability
  • Automatic scaling
  • Real-time updates
  • High reliability
  • Can be used with programming languages such as Java, Unity, Node.js, Go and C++ SDKs
  • Geared and optimized for apps, poor support for other applications

Cloud Firestore features:

  • Type of database model: NoSQL
  • Licensing: a free version, but otherwise charging according to database storage, bandwidths and number of transactions
  • Speed of the database: High
  • Suitability for large amounts of data: Suitable for complex data
  • Ease of administration and administration tools:
  • Cloud or on-premise: Cloud
  • Compatibility with operating systems:
  • Support: Google Support
  • Open Source: No
  • Paid features: Yes, other Firebase products

 

Google Firebase Advantages Google Firebase disadvantages
  • Real-time synchronization of data between different users
  • Asynchronous synchronization for offline use
  • Data can only be stored as a document tree, data organization is difficult

Features of Realtime Database:

  • Type of database model: NoSQL
  • Licensing: free model available, otherwise different tariffs
  • Database speed:
  • Suitability for large amounts of data: Suitable for simple data only
  • Ease of administration and administration tools:
  • Cloud or on-premise: Cloud
  • Compatibility with operating systems:
  • Support: Google Support
  • Open Source : No
  • Paid features: Yes, other Firebase products

 

Microsoft Azure SQL Database

Microsoft offers Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing platform created for software developers. In Microsoft Azure, databases are offered that can be used in the form of a cloud model.

Microsoft Azure SQL Database Advantages Microsoft Azure SQL Database Disadvantages
  • High data protection and strong focus on security
  • High availability and scalability
  • Attractive cost model
  • For server hosting, the country for your hosting is freely selectable
  • Expertise is required to use the database efficiently
  • Type of database model: SQL
  • Licensing: Three levels: Basic, Standard and Premium
  • Speed of the database: High
  • Suitability for large amounts of data: Yes
  • Easy administration and administration tools: Yes
  • Cloud or on-premise: Cloud
  • Compatibility with operating systems: Platform-independent
  • Support: Various support plans
  • Open Source: No
  • Paid features: Yes

 

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon Web Services, or AWS for short, is actually a cloud computing provider that offers various services. These are also used by well-known companies such as Netflix and Reddit, among others. The AWS offer is extensive besides servers, storage and network, databases can also be used. These are the virtual databases SimpleDB or RDS (Relational Database Service). SimpleDB can be used for storing simple, i.e. non-relational, information. However, the database is still in beta version. For this reason, in the following details we will only deal with RDS, which is already officially supported and can be used. It is a service from Amazon to make it easier to set up, operate, manage and scale databases in a cloud. So it is not a standalone database. However, the service includes various databases that can be used as part of the pricing model. Among others, Amazon also offers its own relational database service Amazon Aurora.

The variety of services offered makes it worth considering RDS and thus AWS.

Amazon Web Services Advantages Amazon Web Services disadvantages
  • No need for own server and IT infrastructure due to cloud model
  • Six different database engines can be selected (Amazon Aurora, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server)
  • Flexible scalability
  • Local databases can be migrated using RDS
  • Database software is always up-to-date
  • AWS and RDS services are comparatively expensive. However, for large enterprises, it is worth the cost as the service is really powerful and the reliability and scalability are top notch.
  • Type of database model: Relational
  • Licensing: Billing model based on selectable memory and computing power, in the SaaS service model from Amazon Web Services
  • Database speed: High
  • Suitability for large data volumes: Yes
  • Easy administration and administration tools:
  • Cloud or on-premise: Cloud
  • Compatibility with operating systems: Yes
  • Support: Support via AWS
  • Open Source: No
  • Paid features: Yes

 

Elasticsearch

Elasticsearch is not a classic database, as it serves a more specific purpose. Especially for document and text searches Elasticsearch is best suited. That is why it is also called a search engine that works on the basis of Lucene. Apache Lucene, in turn, is a program library for full-text search. Elasticsearch was released by Elastic in 2010 and works in a platform-independent manner.

Elasticsearch Advantages Elasticsearch disadvantages
  • Fast search results and queries for text searches
  • Well suited for online stores, for example in combination with Shopware
  • Easy to use
  • Supports programming languages like PHP, Java, Python, Ruby and JavaScript (Node.js)
  • Installation and maintenance effort should not be underestimated, but is still manageable
  • Elasticsearch is not available in all store systems
  • Type of database model: NoSQL
  • Licensing: Free server side public license, for cloud offerings the paid Elastic License
  • Database speed: High speed
  • Suitability for large amounts of data: Yes, suitable for large amounts of data
  • Easy administration and administration tools: Yes
  • Cloud or on-premise: Both
  • Compatibility with operating systems: Platform-independent
  • Support: Community page and contact form at the Elastic company
  • Open Source: No
  • Paid features: Available if desired

 

Our conclusion

There is now a huge selection of databases on the market that are suitable for various purposes. In our comparison, we have already compared some databases such as MariaDB and Redis based on some specifications, but by no means all of them! For example, there are SQLite, CouchDB, Ninox and PostgreSQL. Maybe we could give you a good overview of the database market. If you still don't know which database is the best choice for you, feel free to contact us. Every IT project is different and has different requirements. It is therefore impossible to make a general statement about which database is the best. However, we are happy to recommend the best database for your purposes and to offer you help with your IT and software projects .

 

FAQ

To conclude our article, we would like to explain some of the most frequently asked questions about databases. Of course, we are always available for personal help and advice. Just contact us via our form or give us a call. Our experts will be happy to answer your questions.

Where are databases needed?

Databases are used in almost every industry you can imagine, from retail to healthcare to education. You probably even use a database every day. That's because even websites like Amazon and Netflix rely on database functionality to store and retrieve user data, manage product inventories, and recommend content. Databases are also critical for businesses and developers in industries like banking, as they facilitate the secure retention of records and transactions. And in use cases such as healthcare, databases enable doctors and medical professionals to access and share patient data quickly and accurately. Databases may seem mundane or unremarkable, but they are essential to efficient information management in any industry and are used by many companies to manage employee and customer data.

From managing financial data to making recommendations for the next Netflix show, databases play a critical role in many use cases in our modern digital world. There's a database for every use case. Perhaps that's why there are so many different databases, such as SQLite, Ninox, Redis, CouchDB and MariaDB. There are also database management systems like Firebird or DbVisualizer. Developers and companies can get a good market overview of databases in our article.

What are the benefits of databases?

Database applications offer many benefits to businesses, developers and individuals. They are amazing tools for organizing and storing information. They can save a lot of time because they allow you to access certain data quickly. For example, you don't have to sift through stacks of paper or scroll through endless computer files. Databases also make it easy to update information in real time, so everyone is always working with the most current data. And don't forget security - with a database, sensitive information can be protected with passwords and encryption. All in all, using a database streamlines everything and makes life much easier.

When is it worth having a database?

When it comes to managing information, it can be tempting to just put everything into one big spreadsheet. But that approach quickly becomes unwieldy and overwhelming. That's where databases come in. A database allows you to organize information in a structured way that makes it easy to search, sort, and update. When is a database worthwhile? Whenever the amount of data you're dealing with becomes too much to manage in your head or in a spreadsheet. Also, if you need to access and update information frequently or share it with multiple parties, a database is definitely worth considering. Ultimately, the decision depends on your specific needs and goals. But for those seeking efficient information management, a well-designed database can be an invaluable tool.

When it comes to organizing important information, a database can be a great help to any business. Let's say you own a small business and have dozens of customer files - names, contact information, order histories, etc. Keeping track of all this information can quickly become overwhelming. That's where the database comes in. With a database system, all the information about your customers can be clearly organized and accessed with the click of a mouse. Not only does this save time and energy for you and your staff, but it also contributes to accuracy. In addition, databases offer the ability to analyze data and gain insights that can help you in decision making and future growth. However, besides databases, you should also note that you can or must use other programs to use or manage your database application. A database management system will be necessary in any case. For this you can use for example DbVisualizer or Firebird.

What does SQL and NoSQL mean?

SQL is a so-called database language. This is to be distinguished from a real programming language. Rather, SQL is used to map the communication of relational database models. With the commands in the SQL database language data can be searched, changed, inserted or deleted. The database language can be combined with other programming languages.

Relational database applications use tables with rows and columns to store data. NoSQL databases, on the other hand, do not. They "only" have objects, documents, value pairs, lists and rows to organize the data. NoSQL databases are therefore used when relational database applications don't make sense or even work. In terms of cloud computing and Big Data, a NoSQL database is the right choice.

Meike
Meike
from 31.10.2022

Hello, my name is Meike. I take care of the EXWE back office and am responsible for our social media channels. All of our articles are meant to make your life easier and help you make decisions. Nevertheless, it can happen that something remains unclear, so: If you have questions about this article you can easily reach me at +49 231 93149827.

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