Storing a company’s data and all related content, including product catalogues and client lists, is the core functionality of databases. Without these systems, data processing and retrieving stored information would be extremely complicated, which explains why choosing an optimal database solution is crucial for business.
To keep your data organized and your databases linked to each other, you are going to need a robust database management system (DBMS). DBMS will also come in handy for monitoring needs – to keep track of changes made within databases, which is vital for analyzing data trends. In this article, we are going to talk about various types of databases available today, discuss recent trends, and explain the main strengths and weaknesses of each popular solution.
Types of Databases
Different databases have different features, models, and structure. But before we proceed to analyze the offers on the modern market, we believe that a quick introduction to the types of databases is required. If we are to look at the bigger picture, we will count 11 types in total:
It is not hard to get lost in this variety of options, so we will be sticking to the most popular and trusted ones, which are:
Relational databases (SQL)
SQL stands for “structured query language,” which is used by the databases to define and manage information. It serves as a user and app program interface for relational databases. This DB type is widely used for manipulating structured data. Also, it helps in organizing the processes of object standardization and defines how elements relate to each other. All data added to a SQL database gets split into predefined categories. Relational databases can be easily extended, modified, and even merged (if they have a common relation).
Non-relational databases (NoSQL)
Often used for storing large volumes of distributed data. The process of retrieving data is conducted via a dynamic technique. Non-relational databases prove their outstanding efficiency in operations that require analyzing unstructured data saved on several virtual cloud servers. NoSQL databases offer better flexibility inducing the creation of custom structures.
These databases pack different types in one solution by integrating multiple database models into the database engine. A multi-model database provides certain benefits such as having a single backend and the ability to work with several data models, including SQL, key-value, document, object-oriented, graph, and wide-column models. The main difference of the multi-model type is its approach to storing data, which allows saving all data types, including unstructured and semi-structured ones. This method ensures better consistency and solves the fragmentation issue.
As for the popularity of these types, relational DBs remain the top choice being used by approximately 60% of organizations. According to Gartner’s and IDC forecasts, the situation is not going to change in the nearest future. SQL databases will still reign supreme, and by the end of 2022 can increase the market share up to 80%. We believe this forecast to be a bit unrealistic due to the currently high popularity of non-relational DBs and rising interest to multi-model solutions that offer both SQL and NoSQL features in the same platform. The one-key-for-all-doors principle certainly looks appealing to particular categories of users, so multi-model databases will continue to develop. In addition to that, in some specific cases, developers have to rely on specialized databases due to their uniqueness (e.g., graph models).
When it comes to choosing an optimal database for your project, you must consider several aspects:
- The convenience of use
- Integration possibilities
To make it easier for you to decide, we analyzed databases that were popular in 2019 and made our own forecast about database trends in 2020. We selected a few databases for each category – SQL/NoSQL/Multi-model – and formed a list with top solutions that will help you pick the database for your needs.
- Microsoft SQL Server
- Mongo DB
- Oracle Database
- Arango DB
We believe you have either used or at least heard about this product that constantly tops various charts and database lists for developing web applications. Although it is a free, open-source solution, it still gets regular updates that improve some functions and security as well. In addition to the free version, you can get other subscription-based editions – Standard, Enterprise, Cluster CGE – that cost accordingly $2k/5k/10k annually. The paid version always comes with the latest updates and features required for commercial use. More details about these editions you can read on this page.
Although paid editions have more features, the free MySQL version is still a fast and reliable solution that might be enough for you. Also, you get the opportunity to tweak the functionality of the tool and manage data divided into multiple tables of different types. MySQL comes with a clean and user-friendly UI and allows you to process huge volumes of data with outstanding reliability.
Pluses of MySQL:
- Has a free edition.
- Some great features are available in the basic version.
- Wide range of UIs.
- Simple integration with other databases, including DB2 and Oracle.
- Optimal for organizations that are looking for a reliable tool with reasonable pricing.
Minuses of MySQL:
- No native support for OLAP or XML.
- The free version has paid support.
- Requires more time and effort for certain activities (e.g., creating incremental backups) in comparison with other systems.
Another popular choice for many professionals across the globe. PostgreSQL was one of the very first databases developed. Now it is mostly used for web databases, allowing users to manage structured and unstructured data. You can work with PostgreSQL on various platforms including Linux, which makes it easier to import/export information between different DB types with this tool.
PostgreSQL can be deployed in virtual, physical, and cloud environments. After upgrading from the PostgreSQL 9.5 version that had certain limitations (e.g., the maximum field size of 1GB, the maximum table size of 32TB, etc.), the number of PostgreSQL users has increased significantly. Today it is the third most popular database overall (with MySQL being the leader and Mongo DB a runner-up). The latest version – PostgreSQL 12 – has been released on 10.03 (2019).
Pluses of PostgreSQL:
- Supports JSON.
- Has multiple interfaces.
- Features a scalable database management engine.
- Allows processing terabytes of data.
- Comes with many pre-set functions.
- Best choice for those who opt for using JSON and have a limited budget.
Minuses of PostgreSQL:
- Poor documentation, which may result in losing a lot of time if you get stuck on your project.
- Processing speed can be rather low during reading queries and peak loads.
- Configuration process requires time and certain expertise.
Microsoft SQL Server
It would be irrational for Microsoft as a corporation not no step into the database market. So, they did with their SQL Server solution that was released back in 1989. Today it is the second most popular commercial database in the world. The system is a top choice for organizations that already use other Microsoft products.
Microsoft SQL Server is regularly updated, and the latest stable release was presented at the beginning of November of 2019. The database works not just on the MS operating systems but also Linux. What makes it special that it can be deployed on both local and cloud servers at the same time. For monitoring changes within the database, Microsoft has the temporal data support feature that genuinely simplifies the process of tracking. As for security and protecting sensitive information, MS SQL Server lets you use dynamic data masking.
Pluses Microsoft SQL Server:
- Compatible with Microsoft software.
- Professional user support and frequent updates.
- Fast and stable.
- Has integrated tools for tracking performance (so you can optimize the usage of resources).
- Transaction control.
- Lots of extra features (e.g., SQL Server Management Studio, SQL Server Profiler, etc.).
Minuses of Microsoft SQL Server:
- Not a very cost-effective solution for small businesses.
- Requires certain Microsoft SQL server expertise and time to learn.
The second biggest product in the database market. Just like MySQL it has free and paid versions to choose from. Apps developed with the help of Mongo DB are enabled to use both structured and unstructured data. Mongo DB has a very flexible and tunable engine. The engine has a very clever design that allows it to manage variable data, which is not relational. This way, in many scenarios, Mongo DB shows better performance than its competitors.
Mongo DB is the best choice for dynamic queries and index definitions with its flexible structure that can be modified and expanded. The DB supports Linux, OSX, and Windows, but the database size is limited to 2.5 GB on 32-bit systems.
Pluses of Mongo DB:
- Writing diagrams with Mongo DB Diagram Designer practically nullifies downtime time.
- High-performance database.
- Automatic fragmentation.
- Data is stored in JSON documents.
- Ability to index all fields in a document.
- Supports regular expression search.
Minuses of Mongo DB:
- Installing and setting up requires more time in comparison with other systems.
- Requires delicate tuning of security options – default settings make it vulnerable.
- Known to use unreasonable amounts of memory.
- Limited options for document nesting.
Redis is a rather new database comparing to other well-known competitors that have been around for decades. In 2019, Redis celebrated its 10th anniversary and made it to the Top-5 of the most popular open-source databases.
Redis trended so well because it offers fantastic flexibility thanks to the 5 primary data structures. Users can select the structures they need in order to have particular features on the project. The data is stored in many different formats – from arrays and lists to sorted sets. With the ability to manipulate cached data it becomes possible to achieve better efficiency. Also, with the mechanism of intelligent memory caching, the system can automatically delete the old data in order to free space for the new data.
Pluses of Redis:
- Very low query times (thanks to the in-memory data store).
- Good scalability (requires appropriate hardware).
- Pub/sub support.
- Lua scripting.
- Supports transactions.
Minuses of Redis:
- Can be difficult to set up.
- Keeps the dataset in RAM (might cost you a lot).
- Dealing with huge amounts of data sometimes results in performance drops.
The top choice mainly for big companies that can afford it. The system has been invented (and currently being actively developed) by Oracle. This multi-model database is marketed as a commercial solution with a wide array of features and outstanding compatibility (available on all operating systems). In 2019, Oracle DB is the #1 commercial solution leading by a huge margin – 66% (Oracle) vs. 22% (Microsoft SQL Server).
The latest stable release (19c) was rolled out in February of 2019. It was designed to be a cloud-optimized solution that can be either hosted on one server or multiple. Oracle RDBMS 19c allows you to manage databases that contain billions of records. One of the notable features is the implementation of a grid framework in combination with logical and physical structures. This way, physical alterations do not have an impact on logical structures. As for the security of the DB system, it is one of the best in class since all transactions are performed in isolation one from another.
Pluses of Oracle RDBMS:
- Each new major update comes with Oracle’s innovations.
- Robust integrated DB tools that cover all your data management needs.
- Easily handles the largest databases.
- Allows upgrading without overhauling the system.
Minuses of Oracle RDBMS:
- Expensive, which makes it a less popular choice for smaller organizations.
- High system requirements.
- Not easy to set up.
- Not the best choice for those who mainly work with open source code.
A great tool for those in search of extra flexibility in addition to the ability to use multiple models. Arango allows you to store data as graphs, documents, key or value pairs. And the best part – you just need one query language to access it. It has become possible because Arango DB utilizes one query language and the same core for all the data models.
This tool is simple and versatile, designed to overcome numerous development challenges in a timely manner. It allows you to make changes to the model frequently so that your product can receive updates as soon as new ideas are approved and tested.
Pluses of Arango DB:
- Comprehensive admin interface.
- Rich graph query operations.
- Allows combining multiple models.
- Supports joins.
- Tons of storage memory.
Minuses of Arango DB:
- Built-in graph visualization is a bit slow.
- Slow analytical queries.
- The commercial license is pricey.
And What About Database Deployment Trends?
We believe this topic is also worth mentioning since it can provide valuable insights into the deployment methods for your business. Let’s compare and analyze the following options: public cloud, hybrid cloud, and on-premise.
We’re starting with this deployment method because it is simply the most popular one – it is a “go-to” choice for 49.5% of organizations worldwide. It has been and still remains on top because it provides unparalleled opportunities for customizing the company’s infrastructure. However, it comes with a payoff in the form of considerable investments required to run and maintain your own datacenter. But for organizations with big budgets or those that are forced to have own datacenters due to industry regulations or security needs, on-premise deployment is the “one and only.”
With the rapid development of the Internet over the last few decades, cloud models became a new trend and the force to be reckoned with. In 2019, it is a solid second place with 36.7% of the market, and in 2020 it promises to narrow the gap with the leader. The popularity of public clouds is explained by its accessibility – there is no need to build or rent an office for a datacenter. Plus, it offers great scalability, so you may adapt as you go with your project.
A combination of public and private clouds that work in one environment. So basically, when you need a highly-secured infrastructure that is backed up by public cloud flexibility, you go for a hybrid deployment option. Obviously, it combines not only the strengths of those two methods (e.g., high performance, advanced security, efficiency) but the weaknesses as well (most importantly, the upkeep price). It explains the 13.8% on the diagram below:
After thorough research on database-related topics and naming the most used solutions, we can say that the situation is not going to change in the first half of 2020. All trends of this year will transfer without any major changes. We expect negligible percentage deviations in deployment trends, but as for top databases – kings will remain kings. If you are planning to start a new development, we recommend choosing a database solution today and test it in smaller cases. See how it performs and whether it meets all requirements for your business or not. In most scenarios, however, it is also advisable to consult with specialists to avoid unnecessary budget expenses. We welcome you to contact us and discuss the details of your future project.