Choosing the right database for Your Applications, Debunked!

Picking the correct database for your applications requires intricate decision making. On the one hand, it’s easy to be led by a bias towards a database you are particularly familiar with. And on the other hand, the abundance of options makes this a complex decision. To solve the dilemma between an SQL and NoSQL database for your applications, you must draw conclusions based on your application’s concrete needs. The following are key considerations that can help you decide on the best database for your applications.

14 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Database

14 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Database- schema
  • Quantity of the Data to be Stored

The volume of critical application data stored and retrieved from the database plays a big part in selecting a database. Your choice must be anchored on the ability to store and retrieve all your data without negatively impacting your database. For terabytes of data or less, there are plenty of databases to pick from. Nonetheless, if your data volumes are as high as petabytes, the choice is considerably narrowed. As a general rule, the cost of storage will naturally be higher for more data. A safe choice is to leverage a tiered storage strategy. 

To meet your storage size needs adequately, you need to weigh factors such as the data structure, optimization, and partition capabilities.

  • Data structure

Settling for the most suitable data structures for the storage and retrieval of application data will make life easier for you. This is a major contributor to your choice of database. A mismatch between the two will result in more development work necessary for your application to be fully accessible and scalable. In the real world situation, it is common to find yourself with multiple sets of data that fall into different contexts. For your applications to run smoothly, it would be necessary to place each type of data into formats and databases which offer the best ease of use and flawless accessibility. For example, at Skelia, there are dedicated database developers who have helped our customers to choose the right database and successfully release their projects.

  • Number of frequent users

All databases have different advantages and disadvantages. For some, the shortfall is on scalability when it comes to serving a multitude of user queries for terabytes of data. As a result, there is a need to estimate the user load your database is likely to experience. The number of users and their frequency has a significant impact on database performance. 

In the case of a public database, such estimates are quite difficult to pin down accurately. Preparation for seasonal and spontaneous user loads is, therefore, a must. This can be achieved by going for a database that allows you to scale out horizontally to several servers.

  • Scalability

If you expect seasonal loads, then opt for a database that offers more organic support for horizontal scaling with less manual processes. Your scalability needs can also determine the choice between NoSQL databases and SQL databases. 

Usually, horizontal scalability is more effortless with NoSQL databases, which makes it the preferable option among many. There are, however, some SQL databases that can match up to this ease. As a general rule, dynamic scalability is a process more suitable for cloud resources.  

  • Throughput

If you are expecting many concurrent users, consider going for a solution characterized by high throughput. Throughput is presented as transactions per second and therefore affects the reads to writes ratios. It is best to predetermine the expected reads to writes ratio and use it to choose a database that will meet the speed requirements.

  • Consistency

Consistency translates to how the effects of database transactions are limited to the affected data, within set rules. SQL databases are more associated with strong data consistency as compared to NoSQL databases. This means if your application requires reads of the latest data, then the former would be more appropriate.

  • Availability

Availability is, no doubt, a top priority for everyone. This fares well with transactional databases, especially in the cloud running in various availability zones.  

  • Database Schema Stability

For databases with stable schema, the preferred database would be SQL. If such stability is not applicable, then the choice lies in NoSQL databases.

  • Data Shape

Data shape is another factor to consider. Applications with strongly-typed data are more suited to the SQL databases given the data shape. This leaves weakly-typed data to NoSQL database categories, such as document databases.

  • Geographical Distribution of Users

Before picking your database, consider where your users will be accessing the database from. If the distribution puts users in different locations world over, you will be facing an issue with latency. In the event that the placement of additional regional servers is possible, this won’t be much of a problem. Geographical distribution of users can easily affect consistency and latency for applications.

  • Programming language

Today the majority of databases cater to APIs for a wide range of programming languages. However, the programming language of your application can also play a part in the type of database. A database most compatible with the data format for the programming language used would be the best choice. Check out our earlier published article on 5 Ways to Use APIs in Your Business.

  • Your Budget

The amount of money you are willing to invest in databases is an obvious factor. Most vendors leverage service time and support services when it comes to pricing. Some vendors offer a freemium version and a full-featured paid version for enterprise clients. More favorable terms are available for paid clients in this case. There are also some open-source database providers. This option is, however, only suitable if your organization is well equipped to handle its own administration and maintenance.

  • Regulations

Privacy and data protection laws being enacted everywhere also stretch as far as the location of data. Such laws often place stricter regulations for organizations handling private data such as financial and medical data. To be on the safe side, review the legislature regarding the data for your application. There are plenty of databases that can easily cater to multiple regulatory requirements; you just have to be aware of your particular needs.

Software testing on-demand

  • Data Modelling

One helpful way to decide on your database is to utilize data modeling. Data modeling takes away most of the assumptions that could lead you into making the wrong decision. This approach is one of the most reliable criteria for selecting data structures. You have the opportunity to make a data-driven decision while simultaneously doing away with the risk of making your application inefficient.

Modeling your data paints a clearer picture on which type of data structures would be most appropriate from the following:

  • Relational database
  • Document database
  • Columnar database
  • Key/value database
  • Graph database

Making a choice for Multiple Databases

As you go on your journey, in search of the best-suited database, maintain an open mind. There are situations in which the best choice is to make use of multiple types of databases. Carrying out the data modeling process can help you determine the optimal database selections for each of the data structures you will be utilizing. 

Choosing several databases requires careful deliberation as it has risks of its own. The danger that your application may fail at consistent performance is a harsh reality.

Why a Master Database for Canonical Data is a Good Idea?

When making use of numerous databases, the most effective approach is to assign a canonical database for a specific data set. This allows for full optimization of all queries. Other related databases will have access to copy this data, but ownership is retained by the canonical database.

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The Takeaway

The wrong kind of database inevitably creates more work for developers and results in frustrated users and fed up customers. Take your time and make use of a skillful approach to the selection process for the best functioning database and your vendor of choice. This guide covers critical areas of focus to help you with that. Before you buy into vendor promises, make a systematic assessment of your database needs to enable you to narrow down your search, or simply reach out to Skelia for assistance.

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About Skelia

Skelia, a Nortal company, is an international leader in building cross-border IT and engineering organizations and affiliate companies in Eastern-Europe. For over a decade, we have provided staff augmentation services to a diverse range of clients—from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. We operate in Luxembourg, the UK, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Poland, and the US.