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Database software helps businesses capture, store, and organise their structured and unstructured data. These systems include a set of tools that allows users to manage, manipulate and combine disparate data sets from multiple non-relational data sources into an integrated company-wide database.
The benefits of database software
Database software helps users create a single data source that can be leveraged by multiple users simultaneously. Most importantly, it helps enforce safety standards for a business' data. It helps organisations make better, broader, and more efficient use of their key data by combining capabilities for data manipulation, analytics, and reporting.
Specific benefits include:
- Minimised data redundancy: A database acts as a collective repository of a business' data that can be accessed by individuals, teams, or departments. When records are changed in one central system, they're simultaneously updated across all other instances in real time, ensuring that all users have the latest version. This eliminates data inconsistencies and redundant updates at the individual or departmental level.
- Create backups to prevent data loss: Data is the most critical resource in any organisation; businesses cannot afford to lose it. Database management software provides both manual and recurring backups, ensuring complete data recovery in case of human error or natural disaster.
- Increase data search speed: Database management software is capable of handling thousands of search queries simultaneously from multiple users, providing answers almost instantaneously.
Typical features of database software
- Data Management: Store, categorise, manage, update, and retrieve data from the database based on user commands.
- Data Retrieval: Acquire specific data from a database by submitting certain queries or commands.
- Queries: Enter a set of instructions to perform specific actions (such as updating, retrieval, and calculations) in the database.
- Data Replication: Create duplicate instances of a database across multiple servers and use them as distributed databases where users can access data relevant to their task without interfering with others' work.
- Data Security: Ensure the security of the database facility, including data, database applications, servers, and associated network links from malicious attacks, illegitimate use, or external threats.
- Database Conversion: Transfer data from one database to another (aka data migration).
Considerations when purchasing database software
- Deployment options: Database management software is available in a variety of deployment options, including self-hosted, cloud-hosted by the vendor, or cloud-hosted by a third party. Self-hosted solutions often incur high one-time licensing costs on top of software update costs, but offer a faster data transfer speed. For cloud-hosted solutions, monthly or annual subscription costs are generally lower, making the solutions more economical when you need to scale. However, these systems present challenges in the transfer speed of large-volume data sets when compared to on-premise systems.
- Data models: Database management solutions are available in two variants: relational software that works on structured data and non-relational software that works on both structured and unstructured data sources. Businesses should determine whether a product works on structured, unstructured, or both data types when compiling a software shortlist.
- Implementation and service costs: Database management software isn't cheap; it often involves a high initial investment, as well as recurring support and maintenance costs. Consider the pricing options available to your business when you start searching for software, weigh your needs and budget constraints, and select accordingly.
Relevant database software trends
- Database management is getting smarter with machine learning and artificial intelligence: As the volume of data keeps increasing, it's becoming more difficult and complex for database administrators to manage and configure database settings such as memory usage, read/write speed, and data storage for optimal use. Database management software now offers built-in machine learning capabilities that examine previous settings and determine how the system responds to different configurations. It then automatically fine-tunes the system with recommended configurations, saving administrators time and effort.
- Cloud-based deployment is on the rise: More and more buyers are interested in cloud-based database management software deployment, which saves them from having to install expensive servers at their office and avoids the complexity of handling those servers and networks.
- Non-relational database management systems are gaining traction: The demand for non-relational database management software (also known as NoSQL DBMS) is on the rise due to these systems' ability to manage both structured and unstructured data sets.