Database Software in 2021 | Quickbase

Database Software 101

A quick refresher on database software basics and core concepts, for when you need to access, review, or update your data and information.

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What is database software?

Database software is software that is designed to create databases and to store, manage, search, and extract the information contained within them.

Database software exists to protect the information in the database and ensure that it’s both accurate and consistent. Its functions include storage, backup and recovery, and presentation and reporting. It can also help your team with multi-user access control, security management, and database communication.

Six subtypes of database software

Analytical database software

Pulls data and quantitatively assesses performance across a variety of databases and departments, from business to employee.
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Data warehouse software

Derives and reports critical insights on data from a variety of databases, and then stores it in one central location. This warehousing identifies inconsistencies and ensures data integrity.
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Distributed database software

Controls your data and information in several locations with a centralized database management system, often considered the safest option due to its natural data redundancy.

End user database software

Stores information that is used primarily by just one person without extensive collaboration.
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External database software

Compiles information that must be accessed by a variety of users, often via the cloud.
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Operational database software

Modifies data in real-time, often for financial and customer relationship management.
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Customize your solutions with online database software.

Online database software allows users to develop customized web-based applications without coding experience. It often includes editing and collaboration functionality, so that teams can easily discuss projects and share files.

Depending on the platform, users may also be able to build forms that can be housed on a website and deliver data directly to a database. Most online database software platforms also have advanced reporting capabilities.

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Create reliable tables with relational databases

Relational databases use Structured Querying Language (SQL) and manage transaction-oriented applications. They present data in tabular form, and provide relational operators to manipulate data in those tables.

Many enterprise database management systems employ relational databases, especially for real-time web applications. Relational databases are beneficial especially when your application needs to handle complicated querying, or when you want to eliminate the process of manually joining and analyzing data.

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How non-relational databases work

A non-relational database isn't modeled by the tabular system used in the relational database, so it can easily incorporate and store all kinds of big data, including unstructured and semi-structured data.

This may require your team to perform multiple queries and join data manually, since non-relational databases store data without structured mechanisms to link data from different tables, and the design is generally less complex.

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On-premise vs hosted software

On-premise database software is implemented at an organization’s physical location. It uses the hardware and support of that organization, and the company’s IT department and infrastructure typically maintains and solves problems related to the software.

Hosted database software, or software-as-a-service, is owned, delivered, and managed remotely through the cloud by a provider separate from the purchasing organization. Hosted software can be customized to the individual company’s needs more easily, and generally allow users to scale up more quickly.

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Choosing the right database software

Desktop databases are designed to run on a single machine. These solutions are simple and inexpensive, but also fairly limited in terms of data availability, storage, and functionality.

  • Architecture: Runs on single computer, simple
  • Administration: Limited data availability, storage, and functionality
  • Scalability: Not scalable
  • Deployment: Inexpensive, but managed by the user or owner

The web-enabled database provides everything a standard database does, but all functionality can be utilized online, and all data can be accessed remotely and interactively. Common components of a web-enabled database system are permanent online access, a web server and firewall, and application delivery via online database software and a website. The web-enabled database system is often coupled with a desktop platform.

  • Architecture: Has a permanent link to the internet, a web server, and firewall
  • Administration: Utilized online, and all data can be accessed remotely and interactively
  • Scalability: Moderately scalable
  • Deployment: Requires everything a standard database needs; usually requires desktop application

Server databases are typically used to manage massive data stores, allowing multiple users to simultaneously access, modify, and update data, ensuring that data is reliable and consistent. While server databases are more expensive than other solutions, they are also more flexible, scalable, and powerful.

  • Architecture: Usually for massive data stores
  • Administration: Multiple users to simultaneously access, modify, and update data
  • Scalability: Scalable and powerful
  • Deployment: More expensive, but very flexible