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Which Database Should I Use?!

By jozhall ·
Hello everyone.

I think this is my first time posting here but I am a huge fan of TR and have found it to be a useful resource on numerous occasions. Let me begin by saying that I am a freelance web developer by trade however often times get dragged in to doing other odd computing jobs. With that said please bear with me as I may sound like a n00b, but this kinda thing is not my usual cup of tea?

I was recently hired by a small real state company to do a host of different computer related jobs. This company seems to still live in the dark ages when it comes to handling their inter office data. There is one room that is just row after row of old time metal filing cabinets full of hard copy paper files! In short their data is still stuck in the past! One of the many tasks that they have hired me to do is to move this data onto a computer system. Not surprisingly the owner, office manager, and other employees don?t know much about computers. They have about 5 machines in the office that houses about 25 employees. Their main use of the computers that they have is updating an online MLS, that is managed by the local association of realtors.

Therefore, I am in the process of researching different types of Database Management Systems (DBMS) that I can use to move this company into the 21st century! I am currently researching Oracle, Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, and FileMaker. This is going to be a giant learning experience for me because the only database platform that I have experience with is MySQL.

So with that said I turn to the good folks here at TR to seek advice and knowledge! To start the discussion off let me set a few requirements for the future DBMS:

Multiple Users: I would like for all employees to have access to this database. Currently they do not have a LAN. Setting up a LAN for this might be cost prohibitive because this database would be the only application running on it. Despite the fact that I would like everyone to have access to this database, the owner of the company has requested that certain aspects of data not be accessible to the bulk of employees, such as employee compensation and salary. I am assuming the best way to do this would be to enlist restricted access to certain fields for designated users.

User Friendly: Remember when it comes to DBMSs I am still kinda a n00b. And if I am a n00b, then that means that everyone else in the office is a complete idiot! Therefore, I am gonna need a platform that is easy to learn and teach. Eventually, I would like to teach everyone in the office how to update, manage, and interact with this DBMS on a daily basis.

Web Accessible: If possible I would like for certain sections of the database to be accessible by the web. This is mainly so we can list ?featured properties? on our web site. Some methods for doing this might be the ability to easily convert tables to MySQL or build the whole thing on a sever side application.

Security: Once again I am a n00b in this area as well. As a web developer I have always relied on using software that has long standing reputations as safe and secure for my projects. I am not afraid of allocating the necessary resources to make sure that my projects are secure. And this project is no exception. This real estate company is located in a highly competitive housing market that is used to selling property in the 7 figure price range. Therefore, this database will be dealing with highly valuable data that needs to have the highest level of security.

So what do you think? What?s the best DBMS choice for this project? I can?t wait to hear your thoughts!

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Why change from MySQL?

by daveo2000 In reply to Which Database Should I U ...

As you said, you have experience with MySQL and anything else will be a learning curve. I will assume that these people aren't printing money in the office as well as other activities so why would you want to saddle them with additional license fees?

Keep in mind that part of the MySQL software is licensed from Oracle and many commercial companies use MySQL as their one and only.

As far as your points of interest...

Multi-user - Yes, you should know this already.

User Friendly - What does this mean? All of the databases you have mentioned use SQL. Once the database is set up they will not have to do anything else other than SQL to interact with it with the possible exception of adding / changing / deleting users which you will have provided a web page to do.

Web Accessible - You don't want a database web accessible, you want web pages to be web accessible and you want the web server to be your layer between the big bad clients and your sacred database, right?

Security - What you are talking about here is platform security. The database engine should not be exposed to the outside world. Again, I see no reason not to use MySQL.

It sounds like the only real point here is that the network should be secure and the only access to the inside from the Internet is through the web server or some secure connectivity. Something like a firewall, a web server in a DMZ and the database on the internal network.

Is there some underlying reason you have not to use MySQL? Or does this company just not trust open source software? On the same thought, are you planning to use Apache, IIS or some really expensive big-name webserver?

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I agree with dave definitely, go with MYSql

by DanLM In reply to Why change from MySQL?

Several reasons, which dave has covered most of. My reason is that the other DB's you discussed come with a cost. Use the money that you was going to spend on the DB and apply it to a LAN.

You said your primary job role that you are comfortable with is being a web developer. Build the LAN with the money you save by not using one of the other DB's you listed off. Create an inner office web interface which you can build the security yourself to only allow specific people at sensitive data. ****, you could do it by internal ip.

Shoot, build multiple db's to even secure that data further. Employee information on one db with other information elsewhere. Specific login for each further restricted by specific allowed ip's to the db's. Login's occurring over an ssl connection.


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MySQL?? Can it be that easy?

by jozhall In reply to Why change from MySQL?

I guess I hadn't thought of MySQL because I had always assumed that there must be a better application out there that is more indept to an office enviroment. One thing that I am concerned about is this database interacting well with other common office related applications after I leave this job. I considered Microsoft Access as a sutible solution simply because of its relationship with the MS Office Suite. Like I have stated before I am still in the learning process, so if anyone else thinks that MySQL would work well please chime in!

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MS Access?!?! :0 Oh God No!!! Run, child, don't walk, RUN!!!

by daveo2000 In reply to MySQL?? Can it be that ea ...

On average, folks in industry consider Microsoft Access to be a toy for children not yet ready for real work.

MySQL was developed to be used by a serious websites for fast database access. The developers use it for their own business. They have further developed it based on others' needs (and their own) while maintaining its rapid execution speed. DO NOT sell it short.

You can also access MySQL using an ODBC connection which just about everybody and his brother supports (including MS).

Access, on the other hand... I don't remember the last time I heard of anybody putting something there, just horror stories of systems using Access and how they were so happy when they moved to a real database platform.

Back to MySQL. Just make sure that you use one of the more recent releases (post 3.*)

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As a followup to what dave said

by DanLM In reply to MS Access?!?! :0 Oh God N ...

I'll give you a real good reason not to go with access.

Your users will go, oh... We are using access. I can copy it to my desktop and maintain it there. Soon, all these access db's will be sprouting up on every desktop and soon papa access will no longer be a valid database. Neither will the baby access db's. None of the data will be synced, it will just be like crap in a barn yard. All over with no ties to any of the other crap in the barnyard.

Don't do access, you will forever regret it. And it will most likely lower your standing with regard to getting jobs because of the development of a buisness db in that.


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cant argue with daveo

by Shellbot In reply to Why change from MySQL?

not sure why you are worried about the users using the database..are you proposing they actually go in and type in queries etc?

if you create a web application that sits in front of the database, most of your problems are solved.

Have you considered SQLExpress? Not sure how many users that comfortably handles, but I've used it for a few things and it does the trick.. but with over 20 users it might not be the best option

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MySQL is good

by thephpdeveloper In reply to Which Database Should I U ...

i haven't been on MySQL because my experience with MySQL on PHP was not as good as i thought it might be. But comparing with what you have listed, nah, MySQL's the best.

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Another vote for MySQL

by LegalAlien In reply to Which Database Should I U ...

How much time does your project allow for your learning curve? You are familiar with MySQL, so you know how robust this is. You are also a web developer, so creating the front end for your database would be business as usual. Isn't it best to give them what you know well, rather than expecting them to support your learning curve... and possibly paying the price for your inexperience?

I agree with everything else said here, including the recommendations for Apache/Stronghold. Also, the money you would save by not having to license alternate products would pay for a decent Unix server, thereby further reducing your security concerns.

Just my 5c worth!

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I'd go with SQL Server over Mysql

by _JimB_ In reply to Which Database Should I U ...

It fills all of your requirements, is easier to use, easier to train others to use. Users can get quality training right from the microsoft labs site letting them play in someone elses sandbox, and letting you train them only in the specifics of what additional information they need. It's also vey easy to buld web apps right from sql. Here's a link to a video tutorial:

and if you really want to be slick you can create a sql server web services http endpoint.

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Research Your Market

by Wayne M. In reply to Which Database Should I U ...

I would probably suggest digging into the real estate market and find out if similar applications already exist. See if any of the real estate agents have contacts at other offices or the home office. Find out if there are any commercial products available before trying to create a custom application.

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