Database Design

Database Design

Simplified Database Selection

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Imagine the technological side of your business as a house. The operating platform on which it is built is its foundation; the system's front end is the house's facade, and its database is the framework that holds everything together.

While each of the house's components is equally necessary, it's particularly critical to choose a solid frame that holds strong against the elements. The same holds true for your technology infrastructure. You should select a technology solution that lets you manage your information securely, confidently, and cost-effectively.

As a highly scalable, easy-to-administer data management system, SQL Server offers one of the best price-to-performance ratios on the market, complete with a set of intuitive tools that just about anyone can learn.

At the most basic level, all databases are designed to perform the same task: store information. What differentiates one database from the next are the information storage methods they utilize and the tools they offer to query and analyze that data.

Because a huge number of skilled developers have spent years expanding and honing features within SQL Server, this database management system is highly developed and easy to use. Additionally, because it is so user-friendly, finding administrative talent is simpler and more cost-effective.

In businesses where an accounting clerk might act as system administrator, SQL Server enables those employees to feasibly manage the database, because the system allows backups and index utilities to be performed even while the database is completely operational, eliminating downtime.

According to Chris Evans, system administrator at DXP Enterprises, SQL Server's user-friendliness empowers minimally trained end users with the ability to create and manage their own reports.

"Reporting isn't an IT function anymore," says Evans. "We can focus on proactive tasks, and executives can get what they need as soon as they need it. It's a win-win for everyone."

Perhaps you employ 10 people today, but envision opening six branches and hiring two dozen new employees within five years. Your database should offer you the flexibility and the capacity to carry out your five-year plan and manage more users, more customers, and more sales.

As a data management system, SQL Server can handle the flow of transactions through your business no matter whether 10 or 1,000 people are using your enterprise software solution on a daily basis. It can also offer competitive cost-per-transaction ratios.

Because so many of the business technology tools available today are native to the Windows environment - the same environment in which SQL Server was built - the system can connect directly to an Excel database, for example, to maximize your operations.

"It's very easy to send information to a spreadsheet and produce things like mailing lists and dunning reports" says Bob Mitchell, owner of Oklahoma-based NorthWest Bearing and Industrial Supply. "It's just a lot faster and less labor-intensive."

However, SQL isn't the only choice when it comes to data management. A number of other companies provide high-quality, easy-to-master databases that allow your entire staff to be involved in creating and delivering reports.

Some other data management systems to keep in mind are:

DB2: Installing and starting DB2 is a snap, because this management system is "self-configuring". As soon as you install it, it's ready to go! Running the system is just as simple as the installation, as the system is programmed for automatic data spreading and automatic storage allocation. This will save you and your staff a significant amount of time that would be spent monitoring and organizing data storage across disk subsystems.

Filemaker Pro: In addition to being a program that is both intuitive and user-friendly, Filemaker Pro effectively runs on your iPad, iPhone, desktop, Mac systems, and Windows. Among prominent clients is the insurance broker Willis of Texas, who use the database to organize companies' myriad health benefits and keep tabs on thousands of clients' employees. Because Filemaker Pro is such a well-known database management system, your growing company can hire independent contractors to come run programs for them.

Visual FoxPro: The modern cousin of FoxPro, a database management system born in the '80s, Microsoft has updated the software to create one of the most powerful database management systems available. One former issue was that Microsoft operating systems don't support VFP, but this is no longer the case since Microsoft now owns Fox Software.

Informix: An IBM owned system, Informix is designed for high-powered, low-maintenance database management. Built to be exceptionally fast, the high efficiency of Informix allows businesses to use fewer servers, which can ultimately save money on space, power, and cooling.

MS Access: In addition to providing powerful database organizational tools, MS Access is designed to work with your other MS products and is often bundled in with MS Office, making buying less complicated for your business. MS Access is a good bet if you need a small to medium sized database and don't need airtight security for your data.

Oracle: Oracle is a high-powered data management system that can be accessed and run by numerous employees at one time (unlike smaller systems that slow down when too many people are connected). Security on the database can be highly controlled using Oracle, which is a benefit for companies who have access to confidential personal or proprietary files. Oracle is more expensive to run compared to other systems and is often a better bet when you need a large database with high-level security features.

A database stores the most vital facets of your business. Make sure you choose the appropriate system to house this information and facilitate future expansion of your business.

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