Behind the scenes of every great e-commerce site is a database which stores, organizes and retrieves all the information on the products you are trying to sell. When selecting what database software to use, you basically have two choices: pay for it (Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle) or use free open source software (MySql or MariaDB).
Sounds like an easy choice, doesn’t it? But it’s not so simple, or products like Microsoft SQL server wouldn’t exist. Here are some important factors to consider:
- Environment – What kind of operating system does your business use? Can you even support a Windows or open source solution?
- Scalability – Microsoft SQL can be used in a cluster and run across multiple computers. Open source software can be much more labor intensive to set up. What expertise does your staff have?
- Maintenance – Microsoft doesn’t appear to be going anywhere in the near future. Not only does it sit on billions of dollars in liquid cash, it is also pervasive in corporations, governments and academics. Although Microsoft stops supporting legacy products (remember Windows 3.1?) on a regular basis, it usually upgrades those products to a newer version that you can buy instead. (Hello Windows 7!) Open Source solutions may not have the same staying power. MySql was a highly popular alternative to MSFT SQL server, but it’s since been acquired by Sun, and Sun was then acquired by Oracle. Although the software is still considered to be open source, there is no guarantee that it will be as actively developed under Sun as it was by the open source community.
At the end of the day, no matter which software choose, the following principles should apply to every database:
- Design – How efficient is the DB? Is the schema logical and scalable?
- Support – How easy is it to maintain DB content going forward?
A good web design & development group will ensure that your database design incorporates these fundamental concepts. Even better, a good web design & development group will implement, support and maintain the database for you, freeing your company to focus on what it does best: selling your products and services.
What about you? Does your business use Oracle, SQL server, or an open source solution instead? Why did you make that choice? Would you make the same decision again?