Your database can be the backbone of your business. Did you know that a well-designed database can hold your business’s email lists, inventory, blog content, website files, customer lists, prospective customers, customer service requests and on and on? It’s what allows you to run an e-commerce site and handle transactions smoothly. If your business wants a web store, data analysis, a blog or to keep track of important information for your employees, you need databases. And yes – it’s plural, but this article isn’t about going into hybrid cloud. This article focuses on choosing the right database management system (DBMS) for your small business. If you can answer these three questions, you’ll be headed in the right direction:
- What is the size of your business? The size will affect your database needs as well as your budget. Will the DBMS grow as your business grows? For instance, a very small business might start with Excel files, then move over to MS Access when they want to create a few reports based on their data. However, after 6 months of excellent growth, it looks like there’s a need to move again and a search for a hosted cloud server with 24/7 access! Database migration takes time and we all know: time is money.
- What is your budget? With the broad selection of cloud-based solutions, you’ll be able to find many options at all price points for databases. There are cloud-based SQL/NoSQL DBMS options that are both efficient and affordable, and the provider maintains the systems so that saves time and money in maintenance and updates. For larger businesses, an onsite DBMS would be better, and a database team on the payroll would maintain and support it.
- What type of data do you need to store? Answering this question requires an understanding of structured versus unstructured data. As an example of structured data, think of a finance spreadsheet in Excel, where the data is organized in rows and columns making it easy to search. This is the most common type for databases. As an example of unstructured data, think of things like Twitter replies, Facebook posts, image files, Word docs and so on. These items are not easy to query and difficult to work with for analytics. Structured data is supported by traditional databases such as SQL. Unstructured data (where a need is growing exponentially) may be best supported by newer technology such as MongoDB or Hadoop.
By knowing the answers to these three questions, you’ll have the right place to start to make the best choice for your business’s DBMS. Feel free to ask us any questions to help finalize your decision! We know a few things in this department.