If you're looking for a system to store your company’s data on-premises or in the cloud, chances are you'll be considering at least one of these top enterprise database software solutions.
How far back does your knowledge of databases go — late-1980s, mid-1990s, five years ago? If so, you might not recognize some of the old-timers on this list. You'll also do a double-take if you didn't know many of them have their roots in the mid-to-late 1970s. It would be hard to argue that the enterprise database software market is not mature.
It's also a highly competitive market, as mere minutes of downtime can mean millions of dollars in losses. Enterprise database systems come packed with features from hot backups to high-availability to extensive cloud services. These database systems range in price from free to tens of thousands of dollars.
Best enterprise database software
There's no single correct answer for every data problem. Nor is there a perfect database system; each has its own set of features and shortcomings. Here's a primer of the top enterprise database systems on the market in 2020 to help you determine which solution will likely work best for you.
Jump ahead to:
- Oracle RDMS
- Microsoft SQL Server
- IBM Db2
- Google Cloud BigTable
- SAP HANA
- Amazon RDS
Oracle began its journey in 1979 as the first commercially available relational database management system (RDBMS). Oracle’s name is synonymous with enterprise database systems, unbreakable data delivery and fierce corporate competition from CEO Larry Ellison. Powerful but complex database solutions are the mainstay of this Fortune 500 company.
The current release of Oracl's RDBMS is Oracle 19c, which debuted in February 2019. The “c” stands for cloud and is reflective of Oracle’s work in extending its enterprise RDBMS to enable firms to consolidate and manage databases as cloud services when needed via Oracle’s multitenant architecture and in-memory data processing capabilities.
Oracle 19c follows Oracle Database 18c Release 22.214.171.124, which served as one of the first versions of Oracle Database to be updated on a yearly release pattern, with the “18” referring to its 2018 release date.
Oracle Database 19c introduces a variety of syntax enhancements and performance improvements in the three key areas of focus from Oracle Database 18c: Multitenancy, Database In-Memory and Oracle Database Sharding. The newest version also stands as the current long-term support release.
Say what you may about Microsoft, but its profitability exceeds all other tech companies, and SQL Server helped put it there. Sure, Microsoft’s desktop operating system is everywhere, but if you’re running a Microsoft Windows-based server, you’re likely running SQL Server on it.
SQL Server’s ease of use, availability and tight Windows operating system integration makes it an easy choice for firms that choose Microsoft products for their enterprises. Microsoft promotes the latest release, SQL Server 2019, as the platform for both on-premises and cloud databases and business intelligence solutions.
Microsoft also touts SQL Server 2019 in helping enterprises build mission-critical applications with high-performance, in-memory security technology across OLTP (online transaction processing), data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics.
Microsoft launched SQL Server 2017, codenamed SQL Server vNext, on October 2nd, 2017, along with support for Linux, and the next major release, SQL Server 2019, is currently in public preview testing.
Microsoft announced the initial preview release of SQL Server 2019 in November 2019, touting the new release’s improved performance, ability to seamlessly integrate the increasing volumes of corporate data, enhanced security, and more.
Big Blue puts the big into data centers with Db2. The latest release of Db2, Db2 11.5, runs on Linux, UNIX, Windows, the IBM iSeries and mainframes. IBM has pitted its Db2 system squarely in competition with Oracle’s, via the International Technology Group, and the results showed significant cost savings for those that migrate to Db2 from Oracle. How significant? How does 34 percent to 39 percent for comparative installations over a three-year period sound?
IBM Db2 11.5, is the most recent release of Db2 and is the only database fully optimized for the IBM Power Systems POWER9 processor and the company’s Power 9 server systems. The upcoming release of POWER10 was announced in August of 2020 and is planned to reach customers in the fourth quarter of 2021. This new processor was built with a focus on AI workloads and users will see higher performance per watt, and better memory and I/O architecture.
Founded in 2010, Knack is one of the younger companies on this list but has already managed to make a name for itself in the database software market. The differentiator is the company's focus on customization and user experience, rather than just storage and database management. The company describes its product as, “online database software made easy.” Knack is used by companies of all sizes, spanning from small businesses up to Fortune 500s, touting heavy-weight clients like CapitalOne, HP and the Seattle Seahawks.
Knack offers a suite of tools for building online databases and applications that companies can tailor to their unique needs. When building database applications, users can choose what data fields to capture and can connect related data points. They can also build custom interfaces so the most important and relevant data is front-facing. This information can then be depicted through graphical representations using a variety of charts and pivot tables.
Knack offers several plans. Enterprises will likely be interested in their corporate plan set at $179 / month, which includes 125k records, 50GB of storage, 25 apps, and access to an assigned support manager.
PostgreSQL, or simply Postgres, is an open-source object-relational database management system (ORDBMS) that hides in such interesting places as online gaming applications, data center automation suites and domain registries. PostgreSQL also enjoys some high-profile duties at Skype and Yahoo! PostgreSQL is in so many strange and obscure places that it might deserve the moniker, ”Best Kept Enterprise Database Secret.”
PostgreSQL runs on a wide variety of operating systems, including Linux, Windows, FreeBSD and Solaris. And as of OS X 10.7 Lion, Mac OS X features PostgreSQL as its standard default database in the server edition.
PostgreSQL benefits from more than 25 years of development as a free, open-source database system, and it includes enterprise-grade features comparable to Oracle and Db2, such as full ACID compliance for transaction reliability and Multi-Version Concurrency Control for supporting high concurrent loads.
PostgreSQL’s current stable release is PostgreSQL 12, was released in October 2019.
Cloud BigTable is Google's NoSQL Big Data database service. Its reliability and security have already proven successful as an enterprise database software system, as it is the same database that powers many of Google's core services, such as Search, Gmail, Analytics and Maps. The distributed storage architecture is great for enterprises with growing amounts of data, as it is designed to handle immense workloads with high read and write throughput at low latency.
These features make it a powerful tool for analytical and operational applications, such as IoT, digital media and fintech (financial technologies). The data used for calculating the Dow Jones Industrial Average is even hosted on BigTable.
It's also extremely scalable with the ability to manage petabytes of storage across thousands of commodity servers. Throughput can be adjusted without experiencing downtime by adding or removing cluster nodes. This means that Bigtable can seamlessly handle huge jumps in reads/writes per second and then scale down the node clusters as the data load is reduced.
One enormous benefit of leveraging BigTable is that it can easily connect to Google's wealth of cloud services, such as BigQuery and Apache. Additionally, it can integrate with other big data tools, such as Dataflow and Dataproc, once again making it ideal for analytics applications.
MySQL began as a niche database system for developers but grew into a major contender in the enterprise database market. Sold to Sun Microsystems in 2008, MySQL has since become part of the Oracle empire in 2009 following Sun’s acquisition by Oracle. More than just a niche database now, MySQL powers commercial websites by the hundreds of thousands, and it also serves as the backend for a huge number of internal enterprise applications.
Today MySQL remains a very popular option for use in Web applications, and it continues to serve as a central component of the LAMP open-source Web application software stack, along with Linux, Apache and PHP (or Python or Perl). At the same time, MySQL has seen support from users and developers erode over the last few years following the acquisition by Oracle.
MySQL’s decline has helped fuel the adoption of other open-source database options and forks of MySQL like the fully-open source MariaDB, which doesn’t feature closed-source modules like some of those found in newer versions of MySQL Enterprise Edition, as well as Percona and the cloud-optimized Drizzle database system.
As of its release in April 2018, MySQL Community Server 8.0 is the most current release of the MySQL database system, with a minor point release, MySQL 8.0.21, having made its debut in July 2020. MySQL 8 added a number of new features and capabilities, including NoSQL Document Store, atomic and crash safe DDL sentences and JSON Extended syntax, improved sorting, and support for partial updates.
MongoDB is one of the most popular NoSQL databases currently on the market. Founded in 2207 as 10gen by the team of developers behind the digital advertising company, DoubleClick, it is also a young enterprise database system relative to some of the veterans on this list. Because of the database's history, it was designed to support the agility and scalability needed for internet advertising.
However, as the need for dynamic scaling and information sharing grew for all industries, the flexibility and distributed architecture proved to be a dynamic option as an enterprise database software solution. Because it's a NoSQL too, its freedom from rigid schema constraints means it can manage data structures outside of the relational model. Because it is applicable for a variety of use cases, it is often used as a replacement for standard relational databases.
Even with MongoDB's flexibility in use cases, it is often praised for its ease of use and seamless setup. When further information is needed, teams have access to a thorough and growing library of documentation.
Companies operating within the United States may be able to get away with using the Dedicate Clusters plan starting at $57/month, but for enterprises developing world-class applications built for multi-region resiliency, the Dedicated Multi-Region Clusters Plan will serve their needs.
If you have any experience with enterprise-level data storage, you've likely heard of SAP HANA. This relational database management system can process massive amounts of data with impressive speed. HANA was designed to simplify IT architecture by eliminating data silos and the need to maintain legacy systems.
Its in-memory database system accesses stored data from random-access memory (RAM) rather than disk storage, allowing it to provide real-time analytics and reporting that offer insight for improving decision-making within a business.
Running on-premise or in the cloud, SAP HANA contains a scalable and secure enterprise-ready environment where developers can build new applications or extend existing ones with reduced capital expenditure. This freedom grants developers more opportunities for experimentation and innovation of mission-critical applications. Developers and data scientists will also appreciate the availability of sophisticated machine learning models and predictive analytics.
Developed to be an all-inclusive database management software tool, HANA can integrate with a suite of other SAP tools, such as SAP LT Replication Server, SAP HANA Direct Extractor Connection (DXC) and Sybase Replication.
Similar to Knack, TeamDesk is a cloud database service designed with a large focus on seamless customization. The software allows users to easily create, manage, and share a database of information across organizations without the need for an experienced IT team managing every step of the process. Users have the option of either customizing predefined templates or creating their own without the need to deploy complex code. This makes it a sufficient database tool for companies of any industry and size.
The software consists of two parts: an application interface that can be used by all users and a setup module that can only be accessed by assigned administrators. This makes it easy for all users to find the information they need for day-to-day operations without worrying about causing issues in the system.
Thanks to its scalable architecture, TeamDesk provides unlimited storage, data transfer and support. Because it is a web-based app, team members can access it remotely through any device.
Something that may interest some businesses not looking to commit to a single service, is that instead of offering long-term contracts, TeamDesk is a pay-as-you-go-service. So if you find the database system doesn't suit your company's needs, you won't be tied down.
Bonus: Databases and Amazon might at first seem worlds apart, but they aren't, especially in our increasingly cloud-centric world. Amazon's RDS (Relational Database Service) offers enterprises a simple, flexible and inexpensive alternative to traditional database systems.
RDS enables users to store and query data items via web services requests, and it boasts scalability, speed, minimal maintenance and Amazon services integration. As part of Amazon's EC2 offering, you can get started with RDS for free.