How do you choose the right database to host your app?

08 Sep. 22

Your database should not be overlooked, given how crucial it is to have high-quality, efficient data storage and processing. A database that is reliable and easy to maintain can make your app a success. Regardless you are involved in Web Development or Mobile app development Choice of database is a critical task.

We have some tips to help you choose the right database. But first, let us dive into why it matters.

How database selection can impact your company


After all the hard work that went into creating your app and maintaining it, the last thing you want to do is rush to choose a database. To make the best database selections, you will need to have a very clear understanding of what your app needs. Good database selections will support your app and all the hard work that you have put into it. However, a poor one can only hinder your efforts.

Do not skip this step and choose any option. In 18 months you may have to revisit these decisions, with more backtracking than ever before in order to make the information useful.


The potential upsides of selecting the right database


  • You have the ability to scale correctly: Your database can scale and adapt to your current and future needs by making the right choices and planning now.
  • Enhance your UX to please your customers
  • Strong availability and uptime are key to a database’s performance. There are many variables that can affect the response time, availability, and number of users and requests being supported at once.
  • You can save time by having a database you “can forget about”. You won’t do yourself any favors if you spend extra time maintaining a database.

The disadvantages of using the wrong database


  • The database is not the right fit for your data: A database that isn’t ideal for your data could lead to increased costs and lower performance.
  • Your budget is broken by support and operations costs: If your database is not properly planned or scoped, your organization may end up spending too much later.
  • Your expectations may not be met by security challenges. Non-relational databases, for example, are generally less secure than relational databases. Security precautions will be required for NoSQL databases.
  • The incidence of downtime increases: Databases that are strained by data, users and processing requirements can cause slowdowns or downtime. If you require high availability and reliability, certain database types might not be the right fit.
  • Your database grows quickly: If you expect your user base to change rapidly, you might need a new strategy for your database in a year. Although this isn’t necessarily a problem, it is something you should consider. As you anticipate your data needs in the future, consider what your organization will need to quickly add a new database or scale up as your usage grows.

Consider these factors when selecting a database


When choosing a database to use, there are many things you should consider. You can now choose a NewSQL database that combines the best of both databases.

It all boils down to what data you use, how it is used, what your customers expect, and what your strategy for keeping them happy.


General questions


  • Timing: Why do you make a database decision now? Which lifecycle stage is your app in today?
  • Database(s) you already use: What is your motivation for switching to a new solution? Your database is not meeting your expectations.
  • Planning and Forecasting: Have your future database requirements been considered?


Size of the database


  • Current needs: How many data will this database store once it is live?
  • Future needs: Will your database use over 1 TB? What is the time it will take to increase this data volume?


Type of data


  • Unstructured data: Are your data not structured? Unorganized data lacks context to make it meaningful. Three emails containing text could be an example of unstructured information.
  • Structured data: Are your data structured? Data and contextual information. Structured data, for example, could include the names of participants in your meeting, the dates and times that you intend to meet them, as well as the topics you are meeting about. The relationship database displays the relationships. For example, your meeting with Juan is at 3:00 on Tuesday. It’s also about the project you manage.

Unstructured databases can also be useful, just as structuring data has many benefits. For example, if you require a database to store social media data, you will need one that can handle the unstructured and semi-structured data.


Data retrieval


  • Data complexity: Do you need your database to be capable complex data management and retrieval
  • Type of data structure: Which type of data structure do you prefer? Your data structure will determine whether it is easier or harder to query your data and generate reports.
  • Reporting functionality: Does your database report a range of data according to user or app needs?


Future requirements


  • Priorities for scaling: Is it more important that your database can scale quickly to handle greater workloads or performance?
  • Scalability to meet demand: Does your business add to the database’s capacity quickly? Are you looking for flexibility to allow your database to scale down during peak periods?
  • Data size scaling: If you need to increase your data beyond 1TB, will you have to shard the data into smaller pieces? Sharding with older data becomes more difficult after 1 TB.
  • Geographical locations: Where are your users situated around the globe? Are their locations a problem for your app and your database?


Considerations for code


  • Programming languages: Which programming languages are you most comfortable using with your database?
  • Reads and Writes: What is the expected ratio of reads to writes in the database? What are the steps you should take to ensure integrity and consistency of data in these processes?


Scaling and sharring


  • Horizontal scaling: Are you expanding your data capabilities using a database that you already have? Or are you adding a new database and splitting your data between multiple databases? Are you preparing to expand to a new database?
  • Vertical scaling: If you have to grow your data, would vertical scaling work for you? Or would it negatively impact your data’s integrity or functionality?

These questions will help you to develop your database mindset.


How to find the right database for you app


You may find it useful to follow a process when you are assessing your database needs.


1. Analyze the needs of your project carefully


In order to begin defining your database requirements and expectations, you’ll need to involve all stakeholders (including your development team) in this initial stage.


2. Review your tech stack


Based on your technology stack, identify the tech requirements for your database. You must fully understand the data structure you require. Consider, for example, which databases you need to integrate with, what programming languages you use, cloud architecture and any other requirements that may be relevant to your app.


3. Take into account your business’s needs


Business planning is about considering what other stakeholders will require from your database, and how it might impact other business operations.


4. Visualize and model your data


To test your theories, create a model. Before moving to the next step, determine the database type that best suits your data and application. You can capture the data usage of your application using visuals like data flow diagrams or entity relationship diagrams (ERDs).

Logical Data Flow Diagram (Click on image to modify online)Entity-relationship diagram example (Click on image to modify online)


5. Plan it


Select a database solution, then start drafting timelines, project team members, and champions to assist with the transition. This plan will vary depending on whether you are creating a new database, adding databases or transitioning data. If you have older data that needs to be shared horizontally, it may be more difficult. Your engineering team might need more time to ensure the integrity of the data.


6. Start implementation


Now that you have done your research, it is time to begin the implementation of your database. To help your team stay on the right track, you can use visualizations and models throughout the process.


Popular databases


There are many databases that can be used to meet your application needs. But the decision is not just about whether you want SQL or NoSQL. With NewSQL you can also balance the benefits and drawbacks of each database.

These options should be carefully considered.


SQL databases


SQL systems, which are relational databases, are ideal for data that is highly organized. They can store context and relationships that give meaning to your data. SQL databases support Structured Query Language (SQL), which allows you to interact with the database.




  • Security: Give your database access permissions to reduce the chance of data theft.
  • ACID compliance: Relational databases management systems (RDBMSs) must comply with ACID. This means they must apply atomicity consistency isolation and durability. This lowers the risk of your database failing or causing critical errors that could harm your data or users. Your database will save data even if an activity is unsuccessful and prevent other transactions from being affected.




  • Unstructured data not ideal: A SQL database may be less efficient than a NoSQL option for large volumes of unstructured or semistructured data.
  • Limit of one server: If you use a SQL database to store large amounts of data, you may need to spend a lot on hardware. Relational databases can only be run on one server.


Exemples of SQL databases


  • PostgreSQL
  • MySQL


NoSQL databases


A NoSQL database is better for unstructured data. These databases are generally easier to scale than SQL databases and also cost less to maintain.




  • Low cost: You don’t have to use one server for NoSQL databases. Instead, you can share your database with multiple servers. This allows you to take advantage of computing resource savings. This doesn’t mean you have to spend more on hardware.
  • Scalability: NoSQL scales quickly because it can use the cloud to give you more flexibility when you grow.
  • NoSQL has a lower downtime risk than SQL databases.




  • NoSQL databases: These are the newest technology.
  • These databases don’t comply with ACID compliance. This could make them more difficult from a security perspective.


Examples of NoSQL databases


  • Key-value stores: Amazon DynamoDB, which connects one value with another and stores them as pairs, is an example of a key–value database.
  • Columnar database: An array of values is stored in a column for easy retrieval. Scylla is one example.
  • Graph: These databases store data in individual graphs that visually display information relationships (for example, Datastax enterprise).
  • Document-oriented database. Individual documents, such as XML files, can be stored in a document-oriented data base. This allows for information to be stored alongside relationships. MongoDB, is an example.


Databases NewSQL


A third type combines SQL and NoSQL capabilities. NewSQL has ACID-compliance and is more flexible than SQL. Adoption is limited at the moment because NewSQL does not yet have all of the SQL tools.

Many NewSQL database solutions, including some that are currently in development, could prove to be useful for cloud-based applications, given NewSQL’s recent creation.

NewSQL database examples

  • MemSQL
  • CockroachDB
  • VoltDB


Given the amount of information you have to consider, it is worth crafting a plan and making sure that your database supports your app now and in the future.

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