Database Web Applications: Top 7 Databases for Web Applications

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The database layer is critical for the functionality of web applications that drive modern internet experiences. Database software enables storing, accessing and managing application data efficiently. 

This article discusses the top 7 databases – including both SQL and NoSQL options – ideal for developing high-performing web database  applications that serve information reliably to users.

1. MySQL: The Most Popular Open Source Database

MySQL forms the backend database framework for many leading web services globally across diverse industries like social media, e-commerce, banking, fintech and more. 

Its exceptional speed coupled with iron-clad data security, round the clock availability and seamless expansibility make MySQL the gold standard for web-focused database applications.

A. MySQL as an open-source RDBMS

MySQL is an open-source relational database management system or RDBMS.

  • Developed first in 1994, MySQL is now owned by Oracle. It is a database software that is freely available and can be modified and distributed by anyone under GPL license.
  • MySQL database software uses a client-server architecture, where the server handles multiple client requests simultaneously for storing and retrieving database contents securely.
  • It utilizes multiple databases through a separate database schema which ensures access control and segregation. There is an integrated set of administrative tools as well for database and user management.

B. Key features and benefits for web applications

  • High Performance – MySQL architecture delivers high processing speeds essential for intensive web-based applications accessed by millions of users. Features like Memcached caching and parallel replication boost performance further.
  • High Scalability – MySQL flexibly scales up from single servers to large distributed database clusters through sharding as traffic volume increases without compromising responsiveness.
  • Robust Transactional Support – Advanced ACID compliance in InnoDB database engine ensure data consistency, correctness and reliability when modifying databases access by high user concurrency.

C. Use cases and examples of popular websites using MySQL

  • Facebook uses MySQL databases to store user profile data, comments, posts and more form its billions of users while ensuring real-time performance at massive scale across its expanding ecosystem of apps and services.
  • Twitter leverages MySQL to support inserting, finding and delivering hundreds of tweets generated every second without latency in a time-ordered fashion to over 237 million active users.

2. PostgreSQL: The Smart Open Source Relational Database

With a strong enterprise focus on stability, standards compliance, security and extensibility, PostgreSQL establishes the new benchmark for fully-featured web database software

No wonder it powers some of the biggest brands serving customers worldwide each day.  Its flexibility coupled with proven reliability make PostgreSQL the smart choice for tomorrow’s innovative web applications.

A. PostgreSQL as a powerful open-source RDBMS

PostgreSQL is a feature-rich, open source relational database management system (RDBMS) well-suited for complex web applications.

  • Originally created in 1985 at UC Berkeley, PostgreSQL has now evolved into a sophisticated database software actively developed by a huge global community.
  • It uses client-server architecture with multi-version concurrency control for securing data integrity and consistency in large multi-user environments.
  • PostgreSQL offers users complete control over database structures and components without any hidden styles or encodings for maximum optimization.

B. Advanced features and flexibility for web applications

  • Sophisticated SQL Support – It incorporates complex SQL elements like recursive queries, multi-value comparisons, joins for accelerated performance ideal for data-driven sites and apps.
  • Data Integrity and Security – Features like declarative referential integrity checks, sophisticated locking mechanisms, user access controls and write-ahead logging guarantee data accuracy and protection.
  • Extensive Customization – Thousands of extensions and data types to choose from for bolting any desired functionality. Fully definable indexes, aggregates, functions etc. encourage third-party innovation.

C. Case studies showcasing successful implementations

  • Apple uses PostgreSQL across its CloudKit servers that handle terabytes of data synchronization across 100 million+ iOS and macOS devices daily. Its ACID compliance ensures consistency.
  • Nike ingests streaming sales, marketing and social media data into cloud-based PostgreSQL database for real-time inventory tracking and analysis through its various ecommerce channels.
  • Groupon manages thousands of geo-distributed coupon and deal posts going viral through cost-efficient PostgreSQL clusters running on AWS instead of premium databases like Oracle.

3. MongoDB: The Scalable NoSQL Database Platform

From startups to Fortune 500 companies, MongoDB is undoubtedly the internet’s leading modern database platform for building fast, secure web and mobile apps at scale. Its innate ability to handle massive volumes of multi-structured data comfortably makes MongoDB tailor-made for dynamic web database applications.

A. MongoDB as a leading NoSQL database

MongoDB is one of the most popular document-oriented NoSQL database platforms designed for modern, web-scale data storage and retrieval. 

  • Released in 2009, MongoDB employs a flexible data model that stores data as BSON documents made up of key-value pairs for schema-less data storage highly suited for web apps.
  • It uses distributed clusters and sharding to deliver horizontal scale-out and high availability critical for big data apps accessed concurrently by millions. 
  • MongoDB structures related data together in rich, hierarchical documents instead of rows and columns. ThisEmbedded data model facilitates faster reads and updates without complex, expensive joins.

B. Advantages MongoDB delivers for web applications

Easy Scalability – MongoDB’s distributed architecture and auto-sharding allows seamlessly scaling database capacity by adding more nodes instead of expensive vertical scaling. This makes supporting spikes in web traffic and usage easy and cost-effective.

High Performance – Tunable consistency controls, advanced indexing, in-memory computation, horizontal scale-out and native integrations for caching layers give MongoDB extremely fast query and data processing vital for data-heavy, real-time web apps.

Rapid Iteration – Schema-less documents allow modifying data schemas and structures on the fly based on evolving needs instead of defining them upfront. This accelerates prototyping and innovation in web development workflows.

C. Real-world examples of MongoDB usage in web development

  • eBay uses MongoDB to manage listing data with over 1 billion active item listings that see over 50 thousand updates/second in real-time.
  • UPS leverages MongoDB for tracking over 16 million global packages, collecting telematics data from its trucks fleet and more, amounting to over 60 billion documents.
  • Forbes uses MongoDB to run its CMS system and related apps serving over 100 million monthly users and over 50 thousand content assets from reporters and members.

4. SQLite: The Self-Contained Database Engine

With its flexibility and tiny footprint, SQLite delivers a very capable database engine for mobile apps and simpler web database applications focussed on faster time-to-market.

A. SQLite as a lightweight, self-contained SQL database engine

SQLite is an incredibly compact, serverless and self-contained relational database engine that provides lightweight SQL functionality for smaller scale web and mobile apps.

  • Requiring zero configuration, SQLite leverages ordinary disk files to store entire databases eliminating setup overheads. Its serverless architecture enables embedding within host apps.
  • Strong ACID compliance ensures robust data integrity while dynamic typing and stripped down design make the engine very lean – under 600KiB at runtime!
  • Simple, stable disk-based storage needs no ongoing administration or maintenance once deployed, reducing TCO.

B. Benefits of simplicity and zero configuration for web applications

The simplicity and stand-alone architecture provide unique benefits:

  • Zero configuration enables rapid prototyping and experimentation during web/app development.
  • The full database resides inside the app itself easing versioning/migration across stages.
  • Ideal for apps not needing high query traffic/concurrency from multiple users.

C. Usage scenarios and suitability for mobile and small-scale web projects

SQLite is commonly used in scenarios like:

  • Local data storage/caching within native mobile and desktop apps with limited user bases.
  • Embedded devices and software like browsers, media players, robots etc needing internal data access.
  • Downloadable games and digital publications requiring local database functionality.

5. Firebase Realtime Database: The Always Live Backend for Dynamic Apps

Firebase Realtime Database accelerates collaborative, data-driven web experiences and offline-capable mobile apps using intuitive JSON while offloading infrastructure burdens. Its elastic scale and global availability established the database as the live backend of choice for demanding consumer and enterprise environments alike.

A. Firebase Realtime Database as a cloud-hosted NoSQL database

The Firebase Realtime Database is a cloud-based NoSQL database software that provides synchronized, realtime data storage and retrieval functions for developing highly engaging web and mobile applications

  • It uses a scalable JSON tree structured data model accessed via client SDKs and realtime listeners for cross-platform apps.
  • Data is stored in Google Cloud and kept available, consistent and synced across connected clients in realtime with comprehensive offline support.
  • Access controls and encryption safeguard data security while horizontal scaling ensures backend capacity adjusts dynamically to usage spikes automatically.

B. Real-time synchronization and offline support for web and mobile apps

  • Realtime Data Streaming – Any data gets reflected across connected clients immediately without polling ensuring users get latest views without page reloads or extra steps.
  • Intuitive Offline Support – Apps remain responsive even when offline with local database persistence, change merging and resyncs when back online without data overwrites or conflicts.

C. Success stories and use cases in collaborative web applications

  • Google Maps uses the database to propagate updated landmark information from reviewers to users in milliseconds enhancing navigation efficiency.
  • NBC leveraged realtime visitor tracking on its website by syncing scroll depths, clicks and geo-location enabling smarter audience segmentation and engagement.

6. Amazon DynamoDB: Fully Managed NoSQL Database Built for the Internet Scale

DynamoDB’s user-friendly data modeling, security, speed at any scale capabilities make it the go-to database software option for today’s internet applications driven by big data workloads across web and mobile channels.

A. Amazon DynamoDB as a fully managed NoSQL database service

  • Amazon DynamoDB is a fast, fully managed NoSQL database service offered by AWS for developing internet-scale web database applications with ease.
  • As a database software, it employs key-value and document data models highly amenable for storing and accessing massive volumes of unstructured/semi-structured web or mobile app data.
  • Being serverless, it auto-scales capacity while maintaining performance metrics defined by users for read/write activity ensuring web database applications remain highly responsive.

B. Scalability and high availability benefits for web application

  • Virtually Unlimited Scale and Storage – Its serverless architecture grows or shrinks capacity to accommodate terabytes of data and traffic spikes seamlessly while ensuring consistent, sub-10ms performance critical for web database applications.
  • Built-in High Availability – Multiple redundant copies across availability zones/regions coupled with automated failover provide 24×7 uptime and durability for mission-critical web database applications.

C. Examples of large-scale web projects utilizing DynamoDB on AWS

  • Alexa taps into DynamoDB’s speed and flexibility to analyze billions of voice samples for improving speech recognition and intents daily across its voice platform ecosystem.
  • Amazon Prime relies on DynamoDB for its subscription management platform serving over 200 million members worldwide while handling intense read/write loads reliably.
  • IMDb draws on the fully managed durability of DynamoDB to store and serve petabytes of multimedia content powering its website and apps accessed by 250+ million unique users every month without downtime.

7. Microsoft SQL Server - The Microsoft RDBMS Powering Enterprise Applications

SQL Server delivers an enterprise-ready web-scale database software combining availability, security and analytics while seamlessly integrating with Windows server infrastructure cementing its popularity for commercial web database applications.

A. Microsoft SQL Server as a robust RDBMS developed by Microsoft

Microsoft SQL Server is a high-performance, cross-platform relational database management system (RDBMS) developed by Microsoft targeted for business critical applications.

  • First launched in 1989, SQL Server comprises the database platform along with analytical tools that run on both Windows and Linux operating systems.
  • It uses state-of-the-art query processors capable of handling heavy transactional workloads, analytics and AI-based intelligence.

B. Features and benefits for enterprise-level web applications

  • High Availability and Reliability – Components like failover clustering, AlwaysOn availability groups, online restores provide 99.99% uptime for ensuring 24×7 web database application access.
  • Comprehensive Security – Granular role-based permissions, dynamic data masking, transparent encryption protect sensitive web application data end-to-end without impacting performance.
  • Scalability and Speed – In-memory tables, columnstore indexing, partitioning strategies allow fast querying against massive databases essential for large scale web database applications.

C. Case studies demonstrating SQL Server's usage

  • Coca Cola Company uses SQL Server to capture billions of supply chain events for optimized production planning and distribution ensuring timely delivery fulfilling millions of orders daily.
  • Delta Airlines tapped SQL Server’s real-time analytics capability to provide airport agents with a unified view of the airline’s data systems allowing them to resolve customer issues quickly through their web portal.
  • The NFL manages lifetime health records of thousands of players amounting to nearly a petabyte of data leveraging SQL Server’s built-in AI through standardized API calls for easy web access.

To Sum Up

We have explored the seven best databases for web database applications, ranging from MySQL and PostgreSQL to MongoDB, SQLite, Firebase Realtime Database, Amazon DynamoDB, and Microsoft SQL Server. As you navigate the diverse landscape of database software, it’s crucial to select the most suitable option based on your project requirements.

With over a decade of experience spanning mobile app development, web design, and development, such entities are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of modern web application development and harness the full potential of evolving database technologies. 

Stay informed, explore further, and embrace the ever-changing landscape of web development to drive innovation and success in your projects.

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