Which database is the best
Relational databases are the most important component of modern multi-layer software: They form the central storage location for information of all kinds. Any data from the real world can be mapped on tables and their links to one another - invoices, timetables or orders in aircraft construction as well as web-based wikis Systems. A clear trend in recent years is that free solutions are spreading in companies.
The Swedish provider MySQL in particular has made a name for itself in the field of web applications - and was taken over by Sun Microsystems. If the database already benefits from the lamp stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP etc.), with the acquisition it will also move into the center of the Java world and will establish itself here even more strongly than before in the next few years. Sun has already indicated that its own products, such as the NetBeans development environment or the GlassFish application server, will be trimmed for smooth connection with MySQL.
In addition to PostgreSQL, there are two open source products, each with high demands, facing the commercial competition from Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. Numerous other free projects have also developed interesting solutions, so that an up-to-date look at the market is definitely worthwhile. Which free databases are suitable for which purpose and where they still have weaknesses is shown below.
Choosing a database
Open source databases initially appear to be an attractive alternative to costly solutions from Oracle, Microsoft or IBM. However, before planning the use of free software, the Federal Office for Information Security even recommends an exact identification of the system requirements in a strategy paper. First of all, it depends on the amount of data to be processed: From several terabytes, you can hardly avoid proprietary solutions. A small web application, on the other hand, can easily live with an arbitrary selection.
The later scalability of the system is decisively influenced by the operating system and hardware platform on which a database is provided. IBM, for example, supports the mainframe in addition to the x86 architecture. A few weeks ago, Oracle even presented its own hardware cluster with an integrated database. Only Microsoft binds the customer to Windows - all other providers essentially leave a free hand in the choice of the operating system. In particular, IBM and Oracle also offer the database server for numerous Unix derivatives. Linux, Mac OS and Solaris are standard for all providers - for both 32-bit and 64-bit.
User administration and sophisticated rights management are now part of every modern database server - there are hardly any major differences here. On the other hand, the availability features diverge more clearly: Here very different concepts for clustering and backup meet the customer in the database world. The various offers from third-party manufacturers don't make it any easier. To protect its integrity, it is imperative that a mature database has transactions that meet acid requirements. Acid describes desired transaction characteristics and stands for atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability.
In small and medium-sized companies it is often neglected to properly document the requirements for a database and to regularly compare the current requirements with the products used or available solutions. A structured process is extremely important here if the IT landscape is to grow evenly with the company. The question of proprietary versus open solution should by no means be answered under the pressure of licensing costs, but on the basis of clearly analyzed facts.
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