Friday, October 05, 2007

Database Design for business - Part 4 What platform to use?

The decision as to which platform to use will be decided probably by the database developer. Each database designer has their own personal favourite development environment and some developers work exclusively on one platform. I will go through the good points of the main database management programs.

MS Access
Microsoft's database program that formed part of the Office series of software and is now sold separately. If Microsoft Office 2003 is installed on your office machines then you have everything you need to run an Access database. This is a big attraction as users don't have to learn any new operating systems or processes.

A database designed in MS Access can be easily improved by some one else with a little experience and as it is a common platform there are lots of people with MS Access skills available. The development and design side is easily accessible and user friendly although a lot of its power is hidden under the bonnet. I have used MS Access in many multi user situations and find it suitable for systems with up to 10 users. It can handle csv data imports fairly readily. I have made systems with 30 million records and found it could still function reasonably. I have even used MS Access as a back end database for an e-commerce site. Although there are limits to the number of concurrent users and if that shop was really busy it could collapse.

Quite complex business processes can be modeled in MS Access and the reporting side is quite useful and easy to format. There are lots of useful ready made databases in MSAccess available and bits of them could easily be incorporated into your design.

MySQL
MySQL is the number 1 database choice for delivering online applications. MySQL powers more online applications than any other database in the world including such high profile web sites as: Yahoo!, Google, Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia and thousands of corporate online applications.It is a powerful and scalable platform which means that you can run the same database on more then one machine - need more users stick another server on your stack.

MySQL is opensource software which means that the licences are free to use. You can buy more feature rich versions from MySQL AB the the Swedish firm which writes MySQL.

MySQL with Linux,Apache and PHP is the basis of the famous LAMP stack server setup. Over 60% of all websites with interactivity use a version of this setup.

MySQL is the database of choice for e-commerce and cms sites. Internal systems run on MySQL run very fast and can handle high numbers of users. The development environment consists of third party programs that link remotely to the database and allow manipulation of the data and database, the most famous being PHPMyAdmin which is now owned by MySQL AB. MS Access can be linked to MySQL using ODBC drivers.

MSSQL
Microsoft's enterprise level database, scalable, and quick. Must be run on a Windows server, lots of different flavours and prices. Quite expensive in comparison with the previous two, but the main difference is the built in transaction logs, and roll back abilities. The security is higher then MS Access and so is the speed.

This would be recommended to companies with high numbers of users who are happy in the Microsoft environment. Is useful for website backends and interactivity.

Oracle, IBM
Similar products to MSSQL with similar pricing structures £5000 per processor typical price.
Slight differences in the way that they store information although tools are available that convert one sort of database data to another.

The differences are fairy esoteric to the average joe and are really only understood by the developers using them. If your database designer says he must use a particular platform because of a particular feature get them to explain why.

The decision to use a particular platform at this level is usually the preference of the designer and not because of a compelling feature that one has and other doesn't. Because of the price of licences involved then pricing is an issue especially in large organisations requiring multiple databases.

Tomorrow I will list my favourite database tools.



1 comment:

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