Benefits of databases

Which is the best database for your business?

Guide

There are several types of business databases. Choosing the right one for your business isn't always straightforward.

To find the right type of database for your business, you will need to consider:

  • the type of data you will use, eg numeric, addresses, multimedia, etc
  • the structure or model you want the data to have
  • where you want to store it
  • how you plan to manage it
  • what you intend to use it for
  • how consistent your data will be
  • what querying mechanism you require

Businesses in specific industries - eg manufacturing, publishing or insurance - will have database solutions specifically targeted at their precise needs and requirements.

It is worth seeking out products that could meet the particular needs of your business sector. Ask your trade association or trading partners for recommendations. You can also use the internet to research popular database products.

Select the right type of business database

When choosing a database system for your business, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • How will you use your information? If you have a small amount of information that requires updating or filtering of certain types of data, then a standard spreadsheet package is likely to be sufficient for your needs. See computer software for business.

  • How many people will share and access the information? While a spreadsheet may be viewed by several people at once, generally only one person at a time can make amendments to it. If several people require access and the ability to amend records at the same time you should consider a relational database management system (RDBMS). See types of database system.

  • What is your budget? Small flat file database packages are generally inexpensive. However, they may be limited in their capabilities. Usually only one person can access and amend the data at a time and they are unlikely to offer sophisticated data processing options. If you need a large or powerful database application, you should consider an RDBMS. Prices can vary, with fees often based on the number of users. Most packages allow you to purchase additional licenses as your requirements grow. Some RDBMS packages are also available to download free of charge as open source software. You simply download the software once and install it as many times as you need. See open source business software.

  • Are your needs likely to change or develop? Open source software gives you access to the source code, providing you with the opportunity to develop the software as your business requirements change. However, this is likely to be a job for an IT professional. You could use the services of an IT consultant or develop your own in-house skills. You should also check the licence to see what your legal obligations are.

If you are looking to create a bespoke database system for your business, see more on database systems development and how to choose a database supplier.