Best Database Management Software 2020

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Today’s best database management software is the very foundation of a successful data analytics strategy. The database is the powerhouse intelligent repository for organized data – it's essential for mining data for competitive insight.

Often referred to as a DBMS, a database management system comprises an array of data warehouse tools. Increasingly, the performance of DBMS’s are increased by artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Databases store data using different architectural methods. The legacy standard is the relational database, the SQL method (a mainstay for decades), which uses rows and columns. More recently, the non-relational databases, NoSQL, employs an array of query languages to extract data from the repository.

In either case, the database – now often based in the cloud – is the source that feeds data analytics software. Also typically part of the system are ETL tools, which prep the data before it's fed into a business intelligence software or predictive analytics program.

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How to Select Database Management Software

Interoperability

There is no such thing as a stand alone database; by its very nature, a database is networked into your larger system. Will the database you're considering not just work, but work efficiently with your existing infrastructure? The essential nature of interoperability is why many businesses that work with a well known vendor opt to also obtain their database from that vendor.

SQL or NoSQL

Both a relational – SQL – or a non-relational database can be excellent choices, it’s just a case of your business’s data handling needs. To over-simplify the issue, is your business more focused on structured or unstructured data? The SQL method excels at structured data, given its format of rows and tables. The NoSQL is a better fit for unstructured data; for instance, much of the multimedia data from social media is unstructured. Pro tip: some businesses buy both NoSQL and MySQL because they know they’ll need to handle both. Some companies sell both database technologies.

Security

Database security is a complex topic, again because a database does not exist in isolation from other elements of a company’s infrastructure. It’s not enough to say “this database is strong for security,” because its relative security or lack of security will be dependent on a company’s overall commitment to technical security. That said, if security is your topmost concern, you may opt for a solution that is ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, durability) compliant. The ACID framework works to ensure reliability of a database system despite technical snafus.

Availability of Experienced Tech Staff

While it’s generally true that any top tech pro can learn a new system, ideally you want to hire IT staff that is already familiar with your database technology; the technology changes fast enough without needed to learn a new system. This point argues for the more established database vendors, for which there will be larger cohort of experienced pros. However, this "experience factor" shouldn’t override other key factors; if you get a great deal on a top new system, it tends to be worth investing in staff training.  

Top Database Management Software

1) Oracle

Key Insight: For companies that have the enterprise budget, this remains a leading choice, possibly the top choice, in databases.

There is no name more synonymous with enterprise database software than Oracle. And this ultimate legacy vendor isn’t resting on its laurels. The Oracle DBMS remains an evolving solution, with a passel of automation tools to handle key tasks like security and partitioning. In keeping with the times, this more recent functionality in the Autonomous Database is fueled by machine learning. This all adds up to a fast, highly stable database solution, with sophisticated tools and a compelling security setup. Additionally, Oracle has a solid reputation for layering on upgraded tools and features to move their platform forward.

The company’s flagship solutions include the Autonomous Database, which is a dbPaaS solution, Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database, and the open source MySQL.

Pros:

  • Sophisticated, mature database platform that remains the clear choice for large enterprise with a sufficient budget.
  • Existing clients tend to be loyal over many years.

Cons:

  • Some customers say licensing could be simplified.
  • Not known for great support.

2) Microsoft

In this point in the great race for dominance in the high end database market, Microsoft is setting the pace. The software giant has seen significant jumps in revenue in recent years. Most important, Microsoft’s strength in the cloud helps its database business. Its Azure cloud platform helps drive enormous growth, featuring the Azure Cosmos DB and a vast number of relational database instances. Key fact: many enterprises use more than one of Microsoft’s database solutions.

Also significant relating to how the cloud has driven Microsoft database success: the Azure Database Migration Service has seen a veritable torrent of migrations.

One of Microsoft’s historic strengths is that it seeks to make its products easy to adopt. For its database platform, the company has designed it to be easy to program. For those customers who want to bulk up their datacenter, Microsoft offers its Analytics Platform (which interoperates with various databases) as an appliance.

Pros:

  • Given that many companies are already Microsoft-centric, these database solutions will interoperate well; finding skilled operators will be relatively easy.
  • Solid reputation for good support
  • One of the top two cloud platforms, which plays well with the ever growing use of cloud in enterprise.

Cons:

  • Some customers have complained about high prices.
  • The company’s rapid pace of innovation means that some features released early continue to need refinement.

3) Amazon Web Services

Key Insight: The top player in the cloud leverages this strength to grow its database market share – with astounding success.

Viewed over the scope of years, AWS’s runaway success in the database market is nothing short of amazing. The database, after all, was historically the strength of legacy IT vendors who focused on the datacenter, like Oracle and Microsoft. However, a couple of years back AWS actually topped longstanding database leader IBM in revenue from the datebase sector. And AWS – clearly the dominant leader in cloud – shows no signs of slowing down in its growth in the database sector.

A full portfolio of solutions comprise the AWS database menu, including the Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Aurora and Amazon Neptune. Driving this growth is AWS’s Database Migration Service, which can migrate from any datacenter or competing cloud. This service is continually enhanced, just as is the rest of the AWS environment. Indeed, many customers can hardly keep up with the ever expanding number of new tools (database and otherwise) that AWS releases.

In short, for those customers who see advantages in the AWS platform, the AWS database portfolio will be a natural choice.

Pros:

  • A torrid pace of innovation, including full featured database tools that are cloud connected.
  • AWS’s database offerings are part of an overall enterprise IT offering that is extensive – from AI to analytics – that enable a customer to consider using only AWS.

Cons:

  • Because Amazon is ambitious and competes in so many areas – chiefly retail, of course, the company’s expansions seem to know no bounds – some customers and partners may be hesitant to work with the cloud giant.
  • AWS has traditionally been devoted to the cloud, and therefore its database menu is not a clear choice for those companies that want an on-premise solution.

4) SAP

Key Insight: A well regarded legacy solution that offers the ability to efficiently streamline a company’s data handling chores.

SAP’s flagship HANA solution as an in-memory database has a long reputation in the enterprise IT sector as a high performance application. It enables real time data analytics and can bear essentially any workload. It’s available on premise (which is SAP’s legacy strength) or in the cloud. It is known for being able to ingest data at remarkably high rates.

HANA is joined in SAP’s line-up by an array of high end data handling applications, including the Adaptive Server Enterprise and SAP SQL Anywhere. The complete portfolio is known for an efficient, streamlined architecture, reliability, stability, and the sheer power of its data crunching.

Significantly, the SAP database solutions are paired with SAP’s extensive array of data analytics software tools – the interoperability between these two toolsets allows them to serve the needs of even the largest enterprise clients.

Pros:

  • The maturity and robust design of SAP HANA make it a clear database market leaders.
  • The SAP solution is known for its ability to perform augmented transactions, that is, to process analytics and database transaction in a single database.

Cons:

  • Typically geared for large enterprise, the SAP database is not for those with a small budget.
  • Some customers have questioned the upgrade process, noting that it could be easier.

5) Google

Key Insight: Not traditionally known as a major vendor for the enterprise, Google is playing catch up to some better establish database vendors – but has made a real investment in this effort

After a slow start in cloud computing, Google appears determined to enlarge its enterprise client base. And customers are noticing. The search giant’s enterprise offerings have gained a reputation for good implementation, stability, and relative ease of use. Its now extensive menu of data and database solutions includes Firebase Realtime Database, Cloud Bigtable, and Cloud Spanner RDBMS. Certainly Google is known in the field of data and data analytics, and has a particularly strong AI and ML offerings, which it’s reasonable to assume will tie into its database offerings in the years ahead.

Additionally, because the company is taking steps to aggressively grow its marketshare, it is known to be flexible it its price negotiations – it’s near the top in this regard. Similarly, Google has inked partnerships with an broad array of allies/competitors in the data and database sectors. It employs an open platform approach that includes many solutions, which is likely to pay dividends for the company – and customers.

Pros:

  • The company is aggressively committed to growing it enterprise market share, and so its database solutions will likely get major investment.
  • An open platform approach that focus on partnership and interoperability rather than a closed, exclusive approach.
  • Clients willing to negotiate will likely find significant flexibility.

Cons:

  • Unlike some of the enterprise vendors, Google’s database products don't have decades of product history.
  • The company profile in the market may still struggle based on its relative newcomer status.

6) IBM

Key Insight: In addition to a high performance database platform, IBM has a highly flexible, multicloud approach with a diverse array of partnerships.

IBM’s long menu of database solutions – from the DB2 AI to the Db2 Warehouse – is well regarded as offering high grade functionality, security, reliability, with exceptionally fast transactions. Among the leading database vendors, it is one of the strongest supporters of open source, with a long list of key open source functions incorporated into its data products. And IBM acquired Red Hat, the top open source enterprise vendor, further building its open source credentials. Included in this effort are open source solutions like Postgres and MongoDB.

Most impressive, however, is IBM’s strategy of multicloud and partnership openness. Clients can run the IBM database products on-premise, in the IBM Cloud, on AWS, Microsoft Azure, GCP, and even Alibaba. Given today’s heterogenous computing environment, with many companies using multiple cloud for different tool sets, this strategy of extreme openness is likely to work well with IBM and its clients.

Pros:

  • Robust, mature database platform that incorporates machine learning to boost performance.
  • All encompassing hybrid and multicloud approach means that virtually any database deployment option is supported.
  • Well regarded for service and support.

Cons:

  • Some customers have noted that large array of pricing and product menu options can offer complexity.

7) InterSystems

Key Insight: Traditionally geared for healthcare, Intersystems is leveraging its strong reputation for service to expand into additional markets.

Having focused on the healthcare market, Intersystems – founded in 1978 – has a longstanding reputation as a database provider that offers high functionality, high speed transactions, and top performance. Its IRIS solution enables clients to build ML-based applications that can lessen data silos. It offers database management and enterprise-level analytics capabilities. While it touts its ability to handle healthcare deployments, InterSystems has offerings geared for finance, business and government.

In keeping with today’s heterogeneous cloud landscape, IRIS can be deployed on Microsoft Azure, GCP, AWS and even Tencent Cloud, as well as on-premise, bare metal and hybrid environments.

Along with this multicloud, hybrid deployment focus, Intersystem’s deep strength is in customer support. Its loyal clients tend to speak quite highly of InterSystem’s commitment to client service.

Pros:

  • A strong player in the database for healthcare market.
  • Clients tends to be loyal.
  • Particularly strong reputation for customer support.

Cons:

  • Because the company has focused on a core vertical, healthcare, it doesn’t have as large of an overall market profile, which limits the total number of IT pros skilled in using its solution.

8) Alibaba

Key Insight: Based in China, Alibaba is the top cloud and database provider in Asia, but is investing toward enlarging its global marketshare

Having seen rapid double-digit revenue growth (in some cases triple-digit), Alibaba has a database menu that offers more options that virtually any other provider. The strategy seems to be: if there’s a database deployment or mode or approach you want, we’ll provide it. Its AsparaDB solution is available for everything from MongoDB to RDS to PostgreSQL. It offers a serverless MySQL and you can also buy Elastic MapReduce. Furthermore, Alibaba liberally combines open source and commercial database toolsets. 

The underpinning for all this is Alibaba’s strength in public cloud; while strength in IaaS doesn’t necessarily equate to strength in database solutions, in today’s cloud-driven world it plays a key factor. Even as many industry observers note that the cloud war is AWS vs. Azure vs. Google, with IBM and Oracle as strong contenders, in reality Alibabi is coming on strong and is on course for continued market growth as top tier IaaS vendor. All of this public cloud strength is already translating to success in the database market. The company’s Apsara Stack offers an on-premise solution that handles data flow through a robust hybrid transfer.

Pros:

  • A commanding market offering in Asia, with a growing international presence.
  • A list of solutions so extensive that virtually any client can find a suitable product fit.
  • A leader in public cloud, which should equate to a ever more robust database offering.

Cons:

  • Still most focused on the Asian market, which naturally won’t be the best fit for a North American-based customer.

9) MarkLogic

Key Insight: MarkLogic is a solid performer that is well regarded for its performance, chiefly in the nonrelational database sector.

While MarkLogic does not have the high market profile of some of the leaders in the database market, its portfolio is well regarded among those who deploy it. It has a top reputation as a reliable, stable solution that handles many enterprise database needs. Given that today’s businesses are dealing with data from many sources, MarkLogic’s ability to handle structured and unstructured data is a real plus. The company’s data portfolio includes the Essential Enterprise product and the Data Hub Service, which is an elastic DBaaS. There’s also a free developer database edition.

Additionally, MarkLogic is well suited to create multi-modal data hubs, and to create elastic data structures based on the needs at hand, over time as required. The company’s Data Platform is specifically built for the cloud, and as geared for security and flexibility.

In contrast to the many vendors that offer a relational database (for instance, Google’s Cloud Spanner RDBMS or Microsoft’s SQL Server),  MarkLogic’s sells a nonrelational database; this means instead of storing data of tabular schema of rows and columns, it stores data in a manner that is optimized for the nature of the data itself. That’s not a plus or minus, but simply something to be aware of as your business selects a database.

Pros:

  • Well regarded solution known for reliably handling multiple data types.
  • Allows users to create elastic data structures that can mine semantics as well as structured and unstructured data.
  • The solution is offered in the leading public clouds.

Cons:

  • As is true for most database vendors without a "household name" profile, it’s harder for businesses to find a cohort of skilled IT pros that know its system.

10) EnterpriseDB

Key Insight: With a major commitment to the open source Postgres platform, EnterpriseDB is prized for its cost-conscious, enterprise-level performance.

As a key selling point in a world where data can come in so many flavors, EnterpriseDB offering can handle an extensive array of data formats. Of course it handles data from the cloud leader Amazon Web Services’s S3, but it also has a close relationship with Oracle; its EDB Postgres solution is highly interoperable with Oracle. Additionally, EnterpriseDB ingests data from SAP and the classic Microsoft SQL Server. Bolstering this flexibility is an major list of application extensions.

Based in Massachusetts, EnterpriseDB boasts a global presence, with satellite locations in countries around the world. The company is well liked for its deep commitment to customer service; it offers training and has a solid reputation for support. Perhaps most important, it is well regarded in terms of its ROI; customers see it as enabling significant enterprise value for the price, likely due to the company’s focus on open source.

Pros:

  • Excellent value for the cost
  • Deep commitment to open source
  • Handles a remarkable array of data formats

Cons:

  • Some users have requested more advanced data distribution functionality.

Additional Market Leader: Database Management Software

Redis Labs

A top performer in the growing Database as a Service market, Redis’s solution can be accessed through any of the major cloud providers. By earning a spot in the DBaaS sector, Redis is positioned to see significant growth in the years ahead.

DataStax

Offering excellent, high speeds for data ingestion, the DataStax Enterprise offering has a reputation for strong customer support. It sells a nonrelational database that’s available on-prem or from leading cloud vendors.

Neo4j

If you’re looking for a graph native database, Neo4j may be your solution. While some vendors sell a graph extension, Neo4j’s is built into the system itself. Indeed, the company actually developed the Cypher language to drive queries for property graphs.

Tencent

A major player in Asia, Tencent’s portfolio of database solutions ranges from open source MongoDB to the enterprise classic SQL Server. Tencent could be considered more of a longshot in the enterprise market, but the company is growing rapidly and is committed to serving the business market, so expect its DBaaS solution – known for ease of use – to gain breadth and depth.

Rackspace

Given that Rackspace is a managed cloud services company with a major focus on support, it makes sense that its database offering is well regarded for taking care of customers. It has a full menu of DBaaS offerings and its presents these enterprise building blocks in a clear and direct manner. The company probably won't lead the database market, but for the right client – typically a company requiring managed cloud – it could be a good fit.

Data Analytics Software Tools: Vendor Comparison Chart

Please note: Pricing for database solution tends to be complex and situational. The costs listed below should only be taken as a starting indicator. Please click on the link in each pricing box for more information.

Company

Key DBMS software

Differentiators

Cost

Oracle

 

·  Oracle Autonomous Database

 

·   The leading legacy vendor in the database market

·   $1.3441 OCPU per hour

Microsoft

· Azure Cosmos DB

·   Leverages one of the leading IaaS platforms

·   Based on throughput and storage

Amazon Web Services

 

·  Amazon DynamoDB

 

·   Using cloud leadership to vastly expand database offering

·   On demand or provisioned

SAP

 

· SAP HANA

·   Fast, very high performance solution

·   Pricing available upon request

Google

·  Cloud Bigtable

·   Strong in AI and ML

·   $.65 per hour per node

IBM

 

·  Db2 Warehouse


·   High performance; multicloud flexibility

·   $.68 instance per hour

InterSystems

·  IRIS


·   Strong presence in healthcare

·   Pricing available upon request

Alibaba

·  ApsaraDB

·   Rapid growth; large database portfolio

·   $29 per month

MarkLogic

·   MarkLogic Data Hub

·   Top performer in the nonrelational database sector

·   $.125 MCU per hour

EnterpriseDB

·   PostgresSQL

·   Good value for the cost


·   Pricing avaiable upon request



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