8 Key Considerations When Choosing a DBMS
Originally published on January 29, 2018 by Andrea Obermeier
Last updated on February 10, 2020 • 6 minute read
Having a perfectly fitting database management system (DBMS) is a key component for today’s business success. The DBMS manages the interaction between your applications and the underlying database. It assures that the correct data is available for the requested user group when needed. When choosing a DBMS from the variety of concepts and vendors, you should consider the following points before making a decision.
1. Data Model
For a long time, the relational concept was dominant, however recently NoSQL databases have again become more successful. Relational vs. NoSQL is based on your individual needs and their main advantage is the data structure itself.
To decide on which model works best for you, you should ask yourself: Do you have a data structure which you can easily reflect in a relational model or do you need to work with unstructured data? How do you retrieve and work with the data? For example, analysis of hierarchical data in sequential files is faster in a NoSQL database then in a relational one. Since relational databases have a long history, you find a lot of commercial RDBMS (relational DBMS), whereas NoSQL databases are often available as open source.
2. Data Consistency
Nowadays, collecting data is not a big effort any more. But, keeping the data consistent becomes even more important as more sources feed into the database. Therefore, consistency rules are very important and the ability to define these should be considered when choosing a new DBMS.
3. Data Security
For most companies, data availability is a key business success factor and should be guaranteed at all times. The ability to backup and restore the databases is essential and needs to be possible with your chosen DBMS. IT Administrators should setup a framework and a management plan for data security and ensure as little downtime as possible.
4. Data Protection
Access protection and encryption should allow protection of personal data. Every DBMS provide different methods of protect the data through encryption, but the possibility to define routines and access rights is different for every system. The method of data protection depends on the structure of data and should be carefully considered during the evaluation process of a DBMS.
5. Multi Access and Integration
Setting up a DBMS, running it and extending it for future growth, requires enough flexibility to allow integration into the given IT infrastructure. Furthermore, the DBMS needs to allow concurrent accesses by multiple users. Synchronization and integration with other tools are essential for smooth workflows.
When we talk about the efficiency of DBMS, we usually mean the response time. You will find on premise and cloud solutions available on the market. Depending on your own IT infrastructure, a cloud based solution can have certain disadvantages, as you rely on network services and latencies of network providers. On the other side, cloud computing can provide more and better resources compared to your on premise infrastructure, as efficiency is also related to scalability. Make sure your DBMS of choice can scale to your needs.
Different user groups will be working with the DBMS. There are the administrators, IT and Database admins, application integrators and data consumers. All these different roles need an easily understandable query language and intuitive UI to use the DBMS system efficiently. The easier it is for the user to work with the DBMS, the lower the cost will be for people.
8. Implementation and Service Costs
The modifiability and availability of support and documentation needs to be taken into consideration as part of the implementation and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Development needs must always be included, as Database Management Systems need to be shaped to the individual company’s need. A clear overview of these needs and costs will help to choose the right tool. Vendor or community support as well as comprehensive documentation will save you time and money.
You can use these key considerations for creating your own list of requirements and compare different DBMS available on the market. The most popular vendors for relational DBMS are Oracle, IBM DB2, MSSQL, AWS Web Services and for NoSQL, mongoDB. Don’t forget to setup a monitoring strategy in order to keep the DBMS up and running and performing at its best, once you have chosen a solution and starting rolling it out. Your Database Management System is a key component for today’s business success!