13 Best Database Software Platforms to Use in 2021
Humanity generates 1,100 trillion megabytes of data each day.
To put that in perspective, an entire human consciousness occupies just 1 million megabytes of storage space.
The world of “Big Data” isn’t in our future – it’s here and now.
You’ll need the tools to capture, aggregate, and then manipulate that data for business purposes.
That’s why we went and found 13 of the best database management solutions on the market right now.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a modest commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. My reputation is of the utmost importance to me, which is why I only provide completely honest, unbiased recommendations.
What would my answer be if you asked me to choose the best database management software right now?
Microsoft SQL Server would be my first choice.
It’s a proven and trusted platform used by some of the biggest companies in the world. There are some obvious downsides to it, such as the expense for enterprise-level use.
But it’s difficult to argue with the 98% of Fortune 100 companies that use this product.
The IBM DB2 platform took my top spot for innovation due to their exciting developments in Ai. And, PostgreSQL also made the list for the best open source database platform.
BEST OPTION OVERALL
BEST FOR INNOVATION
BEST OPEN SOURCE
Continue reading to learn about the pro’s, con’s, features, and costs of the top database platforms we reviewed.
By the time you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll have found one that meets your needs.
Let’s get to it.
Best Database Software
Here are my pics for the best database software to use in 2021.
MySQL is an open-source relational database system that powers every single WordPress blog currently online.
It is also the database system of choice for many organizations and web-based platforms simply because it’s:
- Light on resources
- Extremely scalable
This is thanks to the Structured Query Language (SQL) that lies at the heart of this database software and a very visual user interface.
MySQL is also available in multiple versions, including a commercial ‘Enterprise Edition’ that has all the features, tools, and support required by larger businesses and online platforms.
Extensible: Developers can customize this open-source database software to their exact requirements, providing a high level of flexibility.
Scalable: MySQL is designed to be able to grow with your database management needs, from a small startup to billion-dollar companies.
Reliable: This is a battle-tested and proven DMBS already deployed across tens of millions of public-facing websites and e-commerce platforms
- It’s affordable with prices for their commercial ‘Standard Edition’ starting at $2,000
- A trusted solution used by hundreds of thousands of businesses of all sizes
- Open-source means that it’s customizable
- MySQL is relatively easy for programmers or developers to learn
- Doesn’t require a lot of IT resources to deploy
- It’s owned by Oracle so is not 100% open source i.e. community-driven
- Documentation on certain features can be quite difficult to find
MySQL ‘Standard Edition’ starts at $2,000, the ‘Enterprise Edition’ costs $5,000, and ‘Cluster GGE’ costs $10,000.
Knack’s database software came into being when two web developers noticed that one of the biggest hurdles faced by their customers was creating an online database.
Existing solutions were somewhat limited and clunky, leaving the site owner with very little control of their data.
That’s why Knack allows any business owner to manipulate their data without ever having to write a single line of code.
Instead, workflows are used to connect a variety of data sources to their website or other online platforms.
No code: Business owners can work with multiple data sources without having to either learn how to code or hire an external developer.
Pricing: In a world of database solutions that can cost tens of thousands of dollars per year, Knack accounts start at $39 per month.
Templates: You get 30+ templates to help automate common business tasks that require database management.
- No coding knowledge required
- Available in a number of affordable price plans
- Integrates with multiple data sources via its API
- Cloud-based so entirely portable
- Templates help automate common tasks
- The lack of coding options means you’re limited to workflow automation
- The support team currently has a reputation for below-average response times
Knack has three pricing plans, ‘Starter’ costs $39 per month for 20,000 records, ‘Pro’ costs $79 per month for 50,000 records, and ‘Corporate’ costs $179 per month for 125,000 records.
The first version of Altibase was released in 2000, so this company has over two decades of experience in supplying database management solutions.
Altibase is an open-source relational database management system designed for enterprise-level organizations.
This means that it is capable of legacy database interoperability.
Or in plain English, it can talk to older database systems.
Stability is also a key requirement for enterprise-level database management software, as is the ability to scale to meet future requirements and recover from data corruption.
Robust: This is a database management solution designed for corporate environments, so it is stable, scalable, and comes with full support.
Proven: Altibase has been in use now for 20+ years by a large number of Fortune 500 companies.
Interoperability: It can communicate with a wide range of legacy database systems making integration far more straightforward for IT teams.
- The DBMS trusted by some of the biggest companies in the world
- Extensive documentation for all processes
- Stability created through multiple iterations of the core product
- Memory-based tables instead of disk-based
- Full disaster recovery functionality
- No support for mobile access
Altibase is free.
EMS doesn’t create dedicated database software i.e. they’re not like Oracle.
Instead, they produce a range of database management software tools.
So, for the purpose of simplicity, we’re going to focus on their “SQL Management Studio”.
This software is about more than just having a nice user interface or dashboard to work with. It allows you to get deep into database and object management as well as design and development.
But EMS SQL Manager also allows precise manipulation of business data, either from the GUI or directly from the command line.
Unified interface: You can control every aspect of your MySQL database from within a single workbench, instead of across multiple tools.
Conversion: ‘MySQL Studio’ can import and export between a wide variety of data sources, including more basic and legacy systems
Maintenance: You can automate many manual tasks, so your company’s database enjoys a high level of availability.
- The visual interface makes database management intuitive
- Command-line control possible
- Compatible with a wide range of data formats
- Allows you to design databases
- Facilitates automation of key maintenance tasks
- Doesn’t support partitioned data tables
Free trial available, but prices start at $480 for a 1-year commercial license of ‘EMS SQL Management Studio’ including maintenance. A non-commercial license starts at $240 per year.
5. IBM Db2
Although IBM is no longer in the desktop computer market, they do still produce cutting-edge software such as IBM Db2.
This is a relational database tool designed purely for the corporate world where high loads and high availability are the order of business.
But what’s also very cool is that Db2 uses elements of IBM’s AI (artificial intelligence) suite of software.
This allows IBM Db2 to adapt to its workload and refine queries based on machine learning. So you don’t have to solely rely on SQL queries to get the results you need.
Artificially intelligent: IBM has found a number of truly practical applications for its AI software, and IBM Db2 is just the most recent of these.
Enterprise-ready: You don’t need to worry if IBM Db2 can grow with your organization because it’s designed with that in mind.
Hybrid cloud: You can migrate all of your old data from multiple sources directly to IBM Db2, building a seamless bridge from on-site data to the cloud.
- Has been proven to be cheaper to run than many other solutions
- AI helps automate tasks that would normally require human intervention
- Can be controlled either through a GUI or CLI (Command Line Interface)
- Interoperable with a broad range of legacy database systems
- Provides a stable platform for global data distribution
- This is a DMBS for experienced developers only
- Requires paid support for serious use
You can download a free trial of IBM Db2 ‘Community Edition’ but pricing for their ‘Standard’ and ‘Advanced’ editions is only available on request.
Even a small business can wind up with its marketing data scattered across multiple sources.
Which makes the job of aggregating it a chore and intensely manual, often requiring up to 40-hours per week to analyze.
Or at least that was the case until Improvado arrived on the scene in 2015 with a new approach.
Its connectors allow you to import data from multiple sources and view them within a single framework or dashboard.
Improvado is used by companies like Facebook, Google, Bing, Instagram, Shopify, and hundreds of other leading brands.
200 connectors: These provide an easy way for any business to import data from dozens of different sources and then visualize it.
Affordable: Improvado packages start at just $100 per month, making it far more cost-efficient than manual labor or more expensive solutions.
Reporting: You won’t need to run manual reports from multiple data sources – you let Improvado do all the heavy lifting for you.
- Your developers can focus on other key tasks instead of having to code individual interfaces
- Integrates with a vast number of external data sources
- Offers robust and visual reporting
- Data warehouse with either PostgreSQL or Google BigQuery
- Easy-to-use interface designed for typical end-users instead of only for developers
- The provided integrations can limit flexibility to what they offer and nothing more
- Not as scalable as other solutions
Improvado’s entry-level package costs US$100 per month. Pricing for larger organizations is available after consultation with a sales rep.
7. Orient DB
Orient DB is something different in the world of database management solutions.
SQL relational databases can provide you with a lot of information on static data, but they struggle with more dynamic datasets.
Orient DB is an open-source graph database that visually represents the relationships and connections of live data.
You get a visual of what the relationship between datasets looks like, which is particularly useful in the financial services market, for example.
Graph databases are the current buzzword in the world of database management, with many predicting they could entirely replace existing SQL relational database solutions.
Speed: If you work with large volumes of data you’ll appreciate that Orient DB can process in excess of 150,000 records per second so it keeps going where other relational databases can grind to a halt.
Flexibility: You don’t have to spend hours or days coming up with new data models to illustrate a business goal – Orient DB does that for you, adapting to the changes you need.
Future-proofing: Larger organizations such as Google and Facebook are slowly moving away from RDBMS (Relational Database Management Systems) and embracing graph databases instead.
- Capable of processing 150,000+ records per second
- NoSQL database so you’re not limited by the complexity of a query
- Designed with “Big Data” in mind, so scalability isn’t a concern
- Easy for your IT team to implement
- Offers the flexibility of an open-source solution
- Detailed documentation can be hard to come by
- No cloud option available yet
The ‘Community’ version of Orient DB is available free of charge. The ‘Standard’ edition costs almost $6,000 and their ‘Enterprise’ edition costs $9,700.
Amazon owns a 32% market share of the cloud data storage market
So it makes perfect sense for them to expand their services to include a cloud-based l database in the form of Amazon RDS.
It’s also compatible with a wide range of database software such as PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL, and Maria DB.
And because this database management system is cloud-based you are freeing up local IT and server resources by using Amazon’s own secure servers instead.
The other major benefit of Amazon RDS is that because this product uses Amazon’s architecture it is far more robust than most other third-party products.
Performance: Amazon’s database product only uses SSD (Solid State Disk) arrays for consistently high data throughput speeds.
Administration: This relational database automates many of the most common admin tasks performed by database administrators, such as backups and software patching.
Scalable: You’re not limited to using local disk or RAM resources, so can grow your database pretty much at the push of a button.
- Amazon offers a high level of encryption for stored data and any in-transit data
- Integrates well with all prominent database engines
- You can isolate your database on a virtual network for maximum data security
- Only pay for what you use as opposed to a fixed fee
- Can scale to allow for data warehousing
- You get a monitoring service at no extra charge
- All of your data is stored on third-party servers
- Performance is not guaranteed especially with complex data
Amazon RDS is free to try. They also include a great cost calculator to estimate your costs based on the solution you need.
9. Oracle RDBMS
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to find Oracle featured in a roundup of the best database software solutions available today.
That’s because they’ve been coding some of the best database software on the market since the late 1970s.
Oracle focuses on providing a single but versatile DMBS.
So their product can adapt to providing a typical SQL database solution, in-memory databases, and even NoSQL solutions.
Their core database product is designed to be as automated as possible, including backups, recovery, patching, and even self-repair.
You also benefit from Oracle’s industry experience and breadth of knowledge i.e. they know what they’re doing when it comes to databases.
Automation: An Oracle database solution reduces your IT workload because it automates the majority of time-consuming tasks involved in database maintenance.
Performance: Their database products are designed with enterprise-level performance in mind so you shouldn’t have to deal with any bottlenecks.
Tools: This database comes with the developer tools required to get the job done, covering all popular operating systems and multiple programming languages.
- A product that is the result of decades of development
- Offers a very high level of data redundancy/availability
- Designed to deal with large volumes of data
- Offers the flexibility to fit within your business requirements
- Best in class for online transactional processing
- Getting the most from Oracle requires an experienced developer
- Poor end-user documentation
Oracle’s pricing structure is complex – here’s a link to their PDF that details dozens of different variations.
But the ‘Standard Edition’ of Oracle Database costs US$3,850 per year, for example.
10. Mongo DB
Mongo DB is a general-purpose database that does things a little differently by storing information in JSON documents instead of in rows and columns.
This makes it easier for your developer to work on your data using a powerful query language.
But Mongo is more than just a relational database management system – it’s an entire suite of tools to help make important data accessible to everyone in your organization.
And that’s beside all the typical features you’d expect such as stability and scalability.
Reliability: Mongo DB includes a high level of fault tolerance, which is why it’s the database of choice for companies such as KPMG, Coinbase, eBay, Adobe, SEGA, and eHarmony.
Cloud clusters: This innovative feature allows you to store elements of your database based on geographic requirements – so it’s like a CDN (Content Delivery Network) but for your data.
Developers: Storing data in JSON documents gives developers far more power and flexibility when working with your data.
- Improved query performance thanks to using JSON
- A database system scalable enough to grow with your business
- Geographic database availability
- Very affordable licensing options
- Reports of very high memory usage
- Documents can be no larger than 16MB
The MongoDB Atlas (Cloud) database management system is available in three packages:
- ‘Shared’ which is “free forever”,
- ‘Dedicated’ which costs $57 per month, and
- ‘Multi-Region’ costs $95 per month.
When it comes to integrating a database into a business it can often be a case of you having to adapt to the software and not the other way around.
What should happen is that your database aligns with your existing processes.
So TeamDesk came up with a solution – a template-based DBMS that business owners can customize to their exact needs, discarding any features they don’t require.
And all of this runs in the cloud so you won’t need to divert IT resources or personnel.
Templated: You don’t have to be a designer to use TeamDesk – just choose the template that best suits your needs and simply remove everything else.
Cloud-based: All of your data is stored in the cloud so you don’t need to invest in additional local drive arrays or hardware.
Support: TeamDesk has developed a reputation for providing as much support as businesses need to get their customized database up and running.
- Easy to set up and customize
- Create the database that exactly fits your business needs
- Tons of functionality included
- Great customer and technical support
- You are limited to what the templates offer in terms of color and style
TeamDesk is also available in three different options:
- ‘Starter Edition’ which costs $49 per month,
- ‘Team Edition’ costs $99 per month, and
- ‘Enterprise Edition’ which costs $249 per month.
Microsoft SQL Server is the penultimate choice of database software for this roundup.
This software was first released in 1989 and has been through dozens of iterations and updates since then.
It is used by 98% of the Fortune 100 companies, a fact that speaks volumes as to its speed and efficiency.
This product is an RDBMS trusted by tens of thousands of database administrators and the biggest brands in the world.
An interesting recent addition to Microsoft’s SQL database offering is that it now includes machine learning capabilities similar to IBM Db2.
Proven: Microsoft SQL Server has a track record spanning over thirty years and is the go-to option for many of the biggest companies in the world.
Speed: This product regularly takes first place in global performance benchmarking tests so it can get your data where it needs to be and on time
Machine Learning: Microsoft is now using a form of artificial intelligence to provide your databases with the ability to “predict” what users will require.
- Supplied by quite possibly the biggest software company on the planet
- Uses machine learning to predict user requirements
- Allows you to migrate your data to the cloud without changing any of the code
- Readily integrates with a number of other platforms
- The interface can be overwhelming unless you’re a seasoned developer
- Their Enterprise-scale database technology solutions are expensive
Microsoft offers free database software with the ‘Express’ version of their SQL Server product.
But, apart from that commercial licenses start at $899 per year for a ‘Standard’ license and $13,700 for an ‘Enterprise’ package.
PostgreSQL is an open-source RDBMS that started out 30+ years ago as a college project.
So one of the oldest database technologies in existence, but far from antiquated because of that.
What also makes this database software popular is that it has a solid, reliable core product that is highly extensible.
Developers also like PostgreSQL because it makes working with MySQL far more straightforward, plus it runs on all major operating systems and features far better documentation.
And even though you might never have heard of PostgreSQL before reading this, it’s the second most popular database in use today.
Versatile: PostgreSQL takes the best features of pretty much every other RDBMS on the market and assimilates them. And whatever features it doesn’t have can be added with an extension or add-on.
Robust: This is a high-performance relational database that can handle high workloads from multiple users.
Stability: Major brands like Apple require a lot of stability for their data sources, which is something this DBMS has plenty of.
- Complies with the vast majority of SQL standards
- Can handle various data types including JSON documents
- Maintains a high level of performance thanks to concurrency control
- Disaster/data recovery is built-in
- Open source means the sky is the limit in terms of development options
- There’s no health monitoring so the first sign of a problem is when your database crashes
- Has to be tuned for modern hardware
This is where being open source database software platform comes in handy.
PostgreSQL is 100% free, even for commercial use.
And that concludes our roundup of the best database software systems and solutions on the market.
As you can see database management systems and software all have their own pros and cons.
None of them are perfect.
Each one is designed to appeal to a specific market, be that small businesses or large corporate.
It comes down to finding the one that best suits your requirements.
Let us know which feature of database systems is the most important for you.
As always, please let us know if there’s anything else about the database world that you’d like to know – and we’ll make sure to write about it!
About Matt Collins
With a rapidly growing team of readers, my mission is to teach hungry professionals how to maximize their net worth with scalable side hustles and responsible financial management practices.
My reputation is of the utmost importance to me, which is why I only provide completely honest, 100% true, unbiased recommendations for systems and software I know and trust.