Define Your RequirementsDatabase management systems (or DBMSs) can be divided into two categories -- desktop databases and server databases. Generally speaking, desktop databases are oriented toward single-user applications and reside on standard personal computers (hence the term desktop).
Server databases contain mechanisms to ensure the reliability and consistency of data and are geared toward multi-user applications. These databases are designed to run on high-performance servers and carry a correspondingly higher price tag.
It's important to do a careful needs analysis before you dive in and commit to a database solution. You'll often find that a desktop database is suitable for your business requirements when you originally planned to purchase an expensive server-based solution. You may also uncover hidden requiremests that necessitate the deployment of a scalable server-based database.
The needs analysis process will be specific to your organization but, at a minimum, should answer the following questions:
- Who will be using the database and what tasks will they perform?
- How often will the data be modified? Who will make these modifications?
- Who will be providing IT support for the database?
- What hardware is available? Is there a budget for purchasing additional hardware?
- Who will be responsible for maintaining the data?
- Will data access be offered over the Internet? If so, what level of access should be supported?
Desktop DatabasesDesktop databases offer an inexpensive, simple solution to many less complex data storage and manipulation requirements. They earn their name by virtue of the fact that they are designed to run on “desktop” (or personal) computers. You’re probably familiar with a few of these products already – Microsoft Access, FoxPro, FileMaker Pro, Paradox and Lotus Approach are the major players.
Let’s examine a few of the benefits gained by utilizing a desktop database:
- Desktop databases are inexpensive. You’ll find that most desktop solutions are available for around $100 (compared to thousands of dollars for their sever-based cousins). In fact, if you own a copy of Microsoft Office Professional, you’re already a licensed owner of Microsoft Access.
- Desktop databases are user-friendly. A thorough understanding of SQL is not required when using these systems (although many do support SQL for die-hards out there). Desktop DBMSs usually offer an easy-to-navigate graphical user interface.
- Desktop databases offer web solutions. Many modern desktop databases provide web functionality enabling you to publish your data on the web in a static or dynamic fashion.
Server DatabasesServer databases, such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and IBM DB2, offer organizations the ability to manage large amounts of data efficiently and in a manner that enables many users to access and update the data simultaneously. If you’re able to carry the hefty pricetag, a server-based database can provide you with a comprehensive data management solution.
The benefits achieved through the use of a server-based system are diverse. Let’s take a look at a few of the more prominent gains achieved:
- Flexibility. Server-based databases can handle just about any data management problem you can throw at them. Developers love these systems because they have programmer-friendly application programmer interfaces (or APIs) that provide for the rapid development of database oriented custom applications. The Oracle platform is even available for multiple operating systems, providing Linux junkies with a level playing field when paired off against the Microsoft folks.
- Powerful performance. Server-based databases are as powerful as you want them to be. The major players are able to efficiently utilize just about any reasonable hardware platform that you’re able to construct for them. Modern databases can manage multiple high-speed processors, clustered servers, high bandwidth connectivity and fault tolerant storage technology.
- Scalability. This attribute goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. If you’re willing to provide the necessary hardware resources, server databases are able to gracefully handle a rapidly expanding amount of users and/or data. This article provided you with the basic information you need to begin the database selection process. Explore the site for reviews, tutorials and other articles to help you in your decision.