RDBMS competencies, and their pros and cons.

5 Best RDBMSs – A Comparison of Strengths and Weaknesses

It wouldn’t be far fetched to claim that relational database management systems (RDBMS) are the operational backbone of every modern business nowadays. Storing business-critical data, its speedy retrieval when required, and relaying it to relevant recipients are some of the salient features which make RDBMS an indispensable data storage option. Several such systems have emerged during the rapid technological progress in the last few decades, each having their unique features, architecture and pros and cons. The rationale of this article is to draw a comparison between some of the most popular RDBMSs and scrutinize their advantages and disadvantages.

Teradata

It is a fully scalable RDBMS developed by Teradata Corporation. The company is located in San Diego, California and was founded roughly forty years ago. Back in 1979 when it was conceived, Teradata was dubbed revolutionary for its parallel processing capability.

Pros

  1. Linearly scalable with node expansion which makes it ideal for handling massive amounts of data. Moreover, more data capacity can be further increased by simply adding more hardware.
  2. Teradata has a signature “shared nothing architecture,” which means this multiprocessor RDBMS neither shares memory nor disk storage among the processors. This gives Teradata high fault tolerance and unparalleled data protection.
  3. The parallel processing mentioned earlier makes Teradata capable of handling multiple ad hoc requests and concurrent users. 

Cons

  1. Teradata as an RDBMS is designed to handle massive data and hence is not compatible with small transaction OLTP databases.
  2. On an enterprise level, Teradata development and DBA sources are scarce in the market, making its maintenance expensive in the long run.
  3. From the data warehouse point of view, data migration from Teradata to other RDBMS products currently prevalent in the market is difficult and time-consuming.

IBM DB2

DB2 was originally designed by IBM in the 80’s for their specific platform. However, in the 1990’s the company decided to make it compatible with other operating systems; Linux, Unix, and Windows. Salient features of DB2 include exceptional availability and data access, massive scalability, deployment flexibility, and lower cost of ownership. Apart from this, DB2 is suitable for large organizations which have diverse and high volume of data.

Pros

  1. DB2 is a versatile relational database; as it can be hosted from a traditional physical server in a data warehouse, cloud or both.
  2. DB2 has a task scheduler which makes it capable of running and prioritizing multiple jobs simultaneously.
  3. IBM BLU acceleration is a cutting-edge tech integrated into DB2. It provides actionable insights even for enormous data sources.

Cons

  1. Since the release of version 10.5, IBM has limited the database size to 15TB – applicable to versions below the Enterprise Server Edition.
  2. Third-party tools need to be employed to make clusters or secondary nodes.
  3. Considering the intuitive and user-friendly GUI most RDBMSs offer, DB2 has a rudimentary black screen interface.

Oracle RDBMS

Oracle is a ubiquitous entry on every relational database list. Currently going through its 12c version, it includes an innovation called grid framework that makes use of both physical and logical structures. 12c is being hailed for providing the ultimate in security as it isolates each transaction. Oracle is ideal for large scale organizations that have enormous amounts of heterogeneous data and require a multitude of features.

Pros

  1. Oracle is considered a benchmark for innovations and features. Each iteration of their products sets the bar high for other database management tools in the market.
  2. Fully compatible with SQL and PL syntax, it eases the job of developers, allowing them to create triggers and stored procedures.
  3. Impeccable system integrity as full access control and audit trails are made available in an enterprise environment.

Cons

  1. Along with all the conveniences and ease comes the exorbitant licensing cost which makes Oracle out of reach for small scale enterprises.
  2. Oracle query components are outside the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard. This means porting Oracle instances to another database system is often cumbersome.
  3. Oracle is very hardware intensive and might require an organization to upgrade their existing infrastructure just to implement it successfully.

MS SQL Server

MS SQL Server is the flagship database management system from Microsoft. It works well with Linux and can be run from local server in a data warehouse to a cloud-based server. Salient features of SQL Server include temporal data support, which tracks changes made to data historically, and top-notch security in the form of dynamic data masking, which ensures only relevant and authorized personnel have access to sensitive company data.

Pros

  1. Unmatched stability, reduced network traffic, and enhanced scalability and security.
  2. Streamlined installation process and enhanced performance.
  3. Tracking visualizations on mobile devices.
  4. Works in perfect harmony with other Microsoft products.

Cons

  1. Like Oracle, MS SQL Server licensing is expensive and may be beyond the financial reach of small-scale organizations.
  2. With successive updates, SQL server tends to become more resource-intensive.
  3. SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) makes it difficult to import files. Also, the learning curve is steep.

PostgreSQL

The de facto standard database management system for web databases, PostgreSQL is a free, open source, and capable of handling structured and non-structured data with ease and convenience. The biggest advantage of using this relational database management system is that it is very cost-effective. It is ideal for small scale organizations with limited IT budget.

Pros

  1. Highly scalable and capable of handling data in TBs.
  2. Has a number of interfaces and more are being developed.
  3. Supportive of JSON.

Cons

  1. Being developed by volunteers from all around the globe, the documentation tends to be cluttered. Developers have to mostly rely on web searches instead.
  2. Optimal configuration might be dodgy and a bit perplexing.
  3. Performance lag may occur periodically while executing bulk operations.

Apart from the RDBMS solutions mentioned above, there are many that didn’t make the list. Selecting the ideal database management system boils down to organizational needs, budget, and scope. Key competencies, such as data integrity, data security, multi-access integration, usability, and implementation and service costs should also be thoroughly explored before you decide on one system.

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