One of These Things is Not Like the Others

by Dec 2, 2019

Individuals of a certain age or those with children in the same range are probably familiar with this phrase. It was used extensively by the creators of the educational television show Sesame Street to teach about the similarities and differences in physical objects. Young minds had to employ their intellect in determining the sometimes subtle differences that provided the answer to the riddle. I’m sure there are times when today’s DBAs wish they were back watching Grover make the right choice.

One of the problems faced by modern DBAs is the need to perform concurrent support on multiple database platforms. It’s the rare IT shop that only deploys one type of database. More likely is that a combination of several platforms is used to address specific business requirements. The database team is responsible for maintaining them all, which introduces additional complexity to what is already the tricky task of supporting the company’s databases.

The Challenges of Working with Multiple Databases

Databases all have a commonality in that they are designed to store information in ways that allow it to be easily accessed, manipulated and updated. There are many similarities in the way different developers have structured their databases. This can sometimes work as a detriment when being called upon to perform the same task on an Oracle or SQL Server instance. Similar does not mean exactly the same, and there are numerous subtle differences facing database teams moving from system to system.

Differences start to become apparent when simply discussing the terminology used by various database platforms. Terms used for similar concepts, like the words table, document and field used in SQL Server are replaced by collection, row, and column in MongoDB. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as many other differences lurk under the surface of various database platforms.

Comparing Database Platforms

A notable example is a comparison between structured and unstructured databases. Structured databases refer to those employing SQL and are represented by offerings such as SQL Server and MySQL that offers a consistent design and the robust query language of SQL. They are mature products that have well-known flaws and security capabilities. Awareness of these issues is useful when designing your database. Structured databases focus on data relationships and are appropriate for use when this factor is important in how the system will be used.

Unstructured databases are more applicable to applications such as document repositories or search engines that deal with data that is, well, unstructured. You cannot enforce the same type of input constraints on collected documents as you would with tracking online sales. These kinds of databases provide for more design flexibility and are developed using Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) techniques. The focus is on data hierarchies rather than relationships. Unstructured databases are useful when the final design is not fully defined during development.

The choice in a database platform needs to take into consideration the ultimate goal of the project as well as other issues such as the availability of experienced technical resources. Security is of utmost importance these days, and the way it is implemented in a specific database product may influence your decision when making your selection. These are a few of the reasons that businesses end up with multiple platforms that need care and feeding. Databases are not a one-size-fits-all kind of product. You might favor one database over the others for a specific project just because of its differences.

A Unified IDE for Enhanced Productivity

Aqua Data Studio offers DBAs and developers a unified platform from which to work with all of their databases. This can result in substantial productivity gains by removing the need to constantly switch between tools when supporting multiple platforms. It’s enough to expect your team to handle the differences in the databases without having to use different tools to interact with them. Database personnel can use their familiarity with a single interface to streamline activities as they survey their systems.

Aqua Data Studio enables your database team to be more productive when working with a wide variety of database platforms. The tool supports over 28 different databases including many cloud offerings and can be run on Windows, Linux or macOS machines. It provides features that enable database development and management as well as the ability to import, export, and visually analyze your data.

IDERA has posted an informative webcast that takes a closer look at how Aqua Data Studio helps your database team negotiate the differences and similarities of its supported platforms. It delves into a more detailed discussion of how the tool can be used to address the needs of database developers, data scientists, and system administrators. Check it out to see how you can use a single tool to manage all of your databases, even if they are all running on different platforms.