In our fast-paced and rapidly changing business environment, it seems as if the organizations that produce and utilize information the best win. Part of unlocking deep business insights is being able to manage your data the right way. Database software is an essential part of the equation. There are many database management platforms available but the challenge is choosing the one that’s compatible with your current workflow. Some database management tools prioritize the speed of data retrieval while others may emphasize a large integration ecosystem. Still, others may be interested in helping you optimize your marketing stack so you can get better results. Every organization is different and what matters to you may not be relevant to another. I’ve compiled a list of some of the best database software that covers the entire spectrum of use cases. What is the best Database Software of 2020? I realize that what’s important to you may not even register for another organization. That’s why I’ve ranked these tools and included an overview of what it does, key features, drawbacks, and pricing. It should help you shortlist the one that’s right for you and allow you to do deeper research. Knack Knack is a database management software platform trusted by some of the largest organizations in the world. It counts Siemens, Capital One, Zendesk, and Phillips amongst its customers. While that’s impressive, it’s probably not the most important thing to you. It was launched in the fall of 2012 as a cloud-based application that allows its users to manipulate data without coding. As long as you understand the nuances of creating a sound database structure, you’ll be able to take advantage of Knack. It comes with a well-documented and supported API that allows you to integrate with the other tools in your development stack. There’s also an integration with Zapier that allows you to pull in data from other sources like a landing page tool or webinar software. You can also route information from your database to somewhere else. Knack becomes even more powerful when you start to apply custom formulas to your work. Even if you’re not too experienced with managing databases, Knack has you covered with dozens of pre-built database templates. Key Features \tPull your data from the database using multiple reporting options \tExpand tables and dive deeper into data \tLarge number of filters for your data \tCustom dashboards that can be tailored to your specific situation \tLarge number of display interfaces to choose from (or build from scratch) \tCan be tweaked to handle everything from ecommerce transactions or serve as your CRM \tReal-time reporting \tLarge number of integrations through Zapier \tAbility to create custom connections with the API \tEasily develop workflows based on specific needs and use cases (for example role-based access control or set up scheduled tasks) Pricing Knack has multiple pricing plans based on multiple factors which include the records you can utilize, storage capacity, the number of apps connected, and the level of support. Starter - $39/m for 20,000 records. Pro - $79/m for 50,000 records. Corporate - $179/m for 125,000 records. If you need more than 125,000 records then you qualify for enterprise pricing which is determined on a case-by-case basis. Microsoft SQL server Many people don’t realize how many business applications Microsoft develops. Created in 1989, Microsoft SQL server has been evolving to keep up with the demands of businesses ever since. It’s a relational database management software that can handle massive loads. It can be installed on-premise or used in the cloud – whichever one makes the most sense for your organization. In later editions, it has support for the Microsoft Azure AI which can make it easier to find the insights in your data. Microsoft SQL Server is used by 98 of the fortune 100 so it must be doing something right. Key features \tCan implement queries across all your data without having to copy from one place to another \tIt’s able to handle both structured and unstructured data \tCompatible with Windows and Linux clusters \tAvailable on-premise or through cloud deployments \tTools for data protection and compliance \tConnector library that allows you to pull in data from multiple sources \tIntegrates deeply with Microsoft BI for data visualization Cons \tIt can be difficult to maintain data because of how selective the server can be Pricing Microsoft SQL Server is free for the express and developer editions with paid plans starting at $209 and going as high as $13,748. Pricing is one-off but you can include add-ons that are charged yearly. Oracle Database Oracle Database is a database platform that is known for constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation. It can be deployed on-premise or through cloud platforms to meet the needs of your organization. It supports multiple data types including relational, graph, structured, and unstructured relational to give you the ultimate flexibility. On a side note, Oracle is fond of being long winded when describing its solutions so it can be hard to decipher exactly what it’s offering. Key features \tThe database will update, back-up, recover, and troubleshoot autonomously \tRapidly processes datasets while occupying less space \tCan set up permissions, privileges, and roles to limit what someone can and cannot do \tIt’s flexible and can be run on devices with a wide range of capabilities \tHas a converged database system to run analytics on all data \tEasily integrate with various platforms to better fit into your workflow Cons \tEvery description is long winded (personal pet-peeve) \tIt’s expensive not for smaller businesses or startups Pricing The pricing for Oracle Database isn’t publicly available. It’s based on a quote that takes into consideration your technology needs, size of your business, and type of business. With that being said, it costs more than a few hundred dollars. MySQL MySQL is one of the most popular relational database software solutions in the world and powers popular tools such as WordPress, Twitter, YouTube, and PayPal. It’s an open-source database platform created by MySQL AB which was founded in 1985 and acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2008. Even though it’s open-source, there is an enterprise edition with advanced features and technical support for implementation. This is the version the largest companies in the world use but even if you don’t’ have a budget, you’ll be able to make the most of its database management infrastructure. Key Features \tRelational database software \tIt has a strong security layer to protect it from intruders \tOpen source and therefore free to download & use \tAmong the fastest database software solutions out there \tCompatible with a large number of operating systems right out the gate \tEfficient with memory due to little memory leakage \tDual password system Cons \tIt’s efficient with smaller databases but loses some of that when you’re working with very large databases Pricing The core MySQL database is free but there are enterprise pricing plans available to purchase through the Oracle website. It ranges from $4,000 - $50,000. Improvado Improvado is database software that has a slightly different focus. While many of the tools on this list are pull in and manage data from anywhere, Improvado focuses on sending your marketing data to the right place. You can connect the tools you use to run your business, move it to your database solution (or use Improvado), and then send it to other places to derive the insights you need to make sound business decisions. Key Features \t180+ integrations and counting \tCan integrate with your own database tool or use Improvado to store data \tCustomizable marketing dashboard \tAutomatically calculate your KPIs and set it up as a report in your dashboard \tSet up and take advantage of multiple attribution models \tAbility to white label it for clients \tEverything is possible without the need for coding \tMultiple templates to get you started Cons \tThe connections to other tools may fail at times so you’ll need to check them occasionally Pricing Pricing isn’t publicly available. If you’re interested in the service, you’ll have to reach out to the sales team so they can understand your needs and give you a custom quote. Amazon RDS Amazon RDS (relational database service) is part of the behemoth that is Amazon Web Services (AWS). Like many other database platforms, it makes it possible for you to set up operations in the cloud. If you’re already using AWS then Amazon RDS is a logical addition to your stack. When compared to other database solutions, it’s a bit easier to manage but you will have to understand proper database architecture. One of the major benefits of Amazon RDS is that it’s extremely scalable – a good choice for brands that handle massive amounts of data. Key Features \tAutomatic software patching \tScan your usage and deployments to give recommendations for optimizations \tGeneral and provisioned SSD storage \tScale your database at the click of a button \tAutomated backups for your entire database \tAbility to create database snapshots that are stored indefinitely \tEnd-to-end encryption at rest and in transit \tSet permissions at the resource level \tClear metrics related to computing, memory, instance connections and more Cons \tInteroperability and hybrid cloud setups are lacking in flexibility Pricing If you’ve used AWS in the past, you know it’s hard to calculate what you’ll be billed because it’s based on usage down to the minute. It’s free to try but once live, you’ll get billed. TeamDesk TeamDesk isn’t as popular but it’s just as powerful as many other solutions in this collection. It prides itself on allowing customers to create custom databases without technical experience. Even though that may be true, you’ll still need to understand best practices associated with setting up and running a database. Key Features \tSet up and run on TeamDesk servers so it manages uptime, backups, etc. \tThere are multiple database templates to choose from which makes it easier to get started \tMobile access to your databases \tTeam collaboration tools \tMaster data management and data analysis Cons \tThe interface looks a bit dated compared to other tools Pricing TeamDesk has clear pricing that’s determined by the number of team members you have or the features you need. Starter - $49/m for up to 5 users Team - $99/m for up to 10 users Enterprise - $249/m for up to 10 users and enhanced security. What is database software Database software is a tool, program, or utility used to create, manage, or edit files and records within a database. The different software solutions have their own unique approach to database management but it tends to fall under hierarchical database systems, network database systems, and object-oriented database systems. What to look for in a database management software When looking for a database management software, the most important factor to look for, is to ensure the tool has the features you're looking for. If not most database software can caters for custom software solutions to suit your needs. Security and customer service is also an important factor, as technical support will always be needed for implementation and ongoing maintenance, so ensure the tool itself and the team you find to implement is to your standards. Benefits of database management software Easier to share data You’re able to share data with people who’re on the same system without having to jump through hoops. You can set up rules to limit what data someone has access to or what they can do within your database. Security Your database can be one of the most important assets in your business. Everything from contact records to transaction history can be stored there. A database management tool will allow you to set up stronger encryption and, as mentioned before, user permission levels. Many of the database platforms have strong firewalls and security practices to ensure your information stays safe. Backups and recovery No matter how good a system is, there may be issues. That’s why it’s so important to back up your data on a regular basis. With database management tools, you’re able to create manual and automated backups at regular intervals to keep your data safe in case there’s an issue. Conclusion There is no perfect database management software. Really, it depends on your needs, your budget, and your current tech stack. If you’re getting started from the ground up, Knack is a great option but if you’re trying to make a switch and have already built something custom then MySQL or Microsoft SQL servers may be ideal. This list is just a way for you to shortlist tools. I encourage you to do further research and make sure the platform is right for you before getting started.