Database Selection 101: How to Pick the Perfect Database for Your Business

7 min readDec 23, 2022

Implementing a software development project is not just about writing code. The important thing is to choose the right IT infrastructure that would contribute to the efficient work of your software. Database is an essential part of the IT infrastructure of a software development project. It securely stores and structures data and provides easy access to valuable information.

The database ensures your data is accurately kept when the system fails or when you move to another server. It also restricts unauthorized access to sensitive information and helps you easily scale the project up or down.

Picking up an appropriate database is one of the most important decisions made by the software development team. But how to make the right choice with so many options available?

This post will outline database system selection criteria to help you decide on the perfect database for your business needs.


There are two main types of databases to consider during database selection: SQL and NoSQL. Each of them has pros and cons and is used for specific purposes.

In SQL (Structured Query Language) databases, the data is organized in tables. Each entity has its own table, and they are related to each other using relational mechanisms. That is why SQL databases are also called relational databases.

SQL databases are usually used to store data with complex relationships. Such databases are considered to be easier to use than NoSQL databases.

In NoSQL databases, there are no restrictions to ways of data organization. The data can be organized in columns, graphs, key-value pairs, etc. Developers and database administrators can choose appropriate methods depending on the project’s needs. Since there is no mandatory condition to store data in tables, NoSQL databases are also called non-relational databases.

No-SQL databases are considered more scalable but less easy to maintain. Developers usually choose them for projects where large amounts of data should be stored in a minimum time.

Representing users and their professions in SQL and NoSQL

So, how to choose a database? The answer depends on your specific needs and preferences.

SQL databases are great for transactional applications, such as online payments, hotel / car reservation systems, shipping apps, and e-commerce solutions. They’re fast, efficient, and handle concurrent updates well. But they are less scalable and flexible and may not suit projects with fast data streams.

NoSQL databases are perfect for big data applications, such as video streaming services, video conferencing platforms, and specific entertainment apps. They can be easily scaled up by adding extra server power. However, they are considered less suitable for transaction processing.

SQL vs. NoSQL databases


Another branch in the database selection decision tree is OLAP vs. OLTP.

OLAP databases are designed for online analytical processing or analyzing data that has been extracted from operational systems. They’re perfect for querying data and generating reports.

OLTP databases are designed for online transaction processing or handling the day-to-day transactions of a business. They’re optimized for speed and efficiency, so they can handle the high volume of requests from users.


So what database to choose? That depends on your needs. If you’re mostly interested in reports and analysis, OLAP is a good choice. If you need a fast, reliable database for business transactions, go with OLTP.

However, in some software projects, you will need both.

Imagine, for example, that you have mobile banking. You will need an OLTP database to carry out daily user transactions, such as deposits, withdrawals, and transfers. These transactions are essentially implemented as INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE operations in an OLTP system.

Then you’ll want to analyze user behavior in the app and compare it with the previous season. How often do customers use mobile banking, what features are most in-demand, what issues were reported? To implement this, you will need an OLAP database and SELECT commands to aggregate data for reporting.

Note: You need to transfer the data from the OLTP to the OLAP to run analytics and reporting. This can be done with a well-tuned ETL (extract, transform, and load) process that will help to pick up data for valuable insights.

Most popular databases in 2022

Making the right decision about the proper database is important for any company. But, how do you make that decision? What are the database selection criteria?

One thing to consider is the opinion of professional software developers. According to the Stackoverflow survey, the ten best databases for data storage and management are as follows:

Best databases in 2022

MySQL. A powerful open-source database used by millions of websites and applications, such as Google, Amazon, and Netflix. It is a popular choice for enterprises and emerging businesses because it is highly scalable and secure.

PostgreSQL. A widely used open-source relational database management system (RDBMS). It is known for its reliability and performance and is used by many large websites, including Instagram and Etsy.

SQLite. A serverless database that stores data in a single file on a user’s computer. Because it doesn’t require a server, it’s perfect for small-scale projects where resources are limited. SQLite will perfectly fit your database system vendor selection criteria if you run an embedded app (fitness tracker, air conditioning system) or a website with less than 100K hits/day.

MongoDB. A robust document-oriented database system perfect for storing large amounts of data. MongoDB offers excellent scalability and performance, making it great for high-traffic websites and applications, such as Forbes, eBay, and MetLife.

Microsoft SQL Server. A widely used relational database management system known for its reliability and performance. Microsoft SQL Server is secure and scalable. Plus, it’s fully compatible with other Microsoft products, making it a valuable addition to your business infrastructure. Some companies that use Microsoft SQL Server are Accenture, Stack Overflow, and Trendyol.

Redis. An open-source database that offers both in-memory and persistent storage. Because of its speed and flexibility, Redis is becoming more and more popular and is already used by such clients as Twitter, GitHub, Snapchat, etc. Redis is perfect for real-time applications. It is also used for caching, data structures, and session management, among other things.

MariaDB. A relational database management system available on an open-source basis. MariaDB meets the needs of data warehousing apps, e-commerce platforms, and logging applications and is already trusted by clients such as Bandwidth, Samsung, and SelectQuote.

Elasticsearch. A search engine based on Lucene. It provides a distributed, multitenant-capable full-text search engine with an HTTP web interface and schema-free JSON documents. Elasticsearch is a great choice for a database organization because it’s schema-free, meaning you don’t have to pre-define your data structure. Notable users of Elasticsearch are Github, Wikipedia, and NY Times.

Oracle. A comprehensive enterprise-grade solution with strong security, disaster recovery, and powerful processing capabilities. Oracle database is RDBMS with features like user-defined types, inheritance, and polymorphism. Some Oracle database users are Netflix, LinkedIn, and ViaVarejo.

Firebase Realtime Database. A cloud-based NoSQL database that allows you to store and sync data in real-time across devices. It’s perfect for building chat apps, real-time dashboards, or any app that needs to keep track of data in real-time. Some big names using Firebase Realtime Database are Alibaba, The Economist, Onefootball, and eToro.

How to choose a database for startup?

The database selection process is an essential part of the choice of the software technology stack. When choosing a database, emerging companies should consider their business area, data type, and the nature of app operations. However, regardless of the nature of the activity, it is advisable to opt for PaaS (platform as a service) rather than a self-hosted database.

Here are the reasons why startups should choose a PaaS database:

1. Ease of maintenance. PaaS databases are easier to maintain than databases located on proprietary servers. This is because businesses rent PaaS databases from cloud service providers and don’t spend resources on maintaining those databases. The provider maintains the database on its own, and you pay for the service provided.

2. Effortless scalability. If you need more space to store data in your databases, you can purchase it from your database provider. The extra space will be added immediately, and you will not need to spend a lot of time searching for extra IT resources.

3. Lower costs. On-demand databases may be more affordable in the long run because you don’t need to purchase and maintain the costly equipment by yourself.

When to switch databases

All software products evolve and change their requirements. At some point, you may need to choose another database to keep up with the latest industry trends. So, how do you know it’s time to switch? Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Your data amounts are increasing, and you can no longer maintain them in a current database
  2. The database is outdated and is no longer supported by its manufacturer
  3. You’ve changed the software specifics, and the database doesn’t meet your current needs

If some of the above sounds familiar to you, it’s time to migrate data from one database to another. To set up smooth migration, consider doing the following:

  • prepare the necessary resources, such as adequate storage space and bandwidth, and appoint specialists to implement the migration
  • backup data before starting the migration
  • test the migration, using a small portion of the data, and if it goes smoothly, run a full-scale migration

If you need help exporting, importing, or migrating your data, our team is happy to assist. Get in touch via chat or email, and we’ll provide a comprehensive consultation on your project.