Which Database is Best?

I’m often asked by people “Which database is best?” That’s an extremely subjective question which nonetheless can be answered objectively.


If by best they mean which database I prefer, then the answer is obviously Oracle. I’ve spent over 30 years working with Oracle databases. I’m an Oracle ACE, routinely speak at Oracle events, and have written 10 books mostly on Oracle database topics. But that’s a completely subjective answer based upon personal preference due to comfort zone.


If however by best they instead mean which database I prefer for a given use case or application, then the answer is it all depends (on the use case). Over those 30 years I’ve also worked with just about every relational database known to mankind. However once again whatever I might say is a subjective answer based upon my particular experience implementing solutions.


So what’s the objective answer? Again it all depends, but now it depends on business questions that should be asked to provide background and context to this question. Here’s an example of the process that I follow to objectively answer the question.


Question: Do you currently have a particular database that you already use and use the most?

Answer: Yes. We have several dozen SQL Server databases running on Windows servers. We also have one experimental MySQL database and one legacy Oracle database that’s scheduled to be replaced.

Recommendation: Obvious – stick with your preferred database unless a very good reason not to.


Question: Since you have no databases, what operating system are most of your servers running?

Answer: We run mostly Microsoft Windows Server, but we also have one Solaris and one Linux server.

Recommendation: Obvious – stick with your preferred OS vendor to best leverage existing staff skills.


Question: If agnostic to server platform, what tools will your database developers use to build the apps?

Answer: We build in-house app predominately using Microsoft Visual Studio, but we also buy some third party vendor specific solutions for business intelligence and data analytics.

Recommendation: Obvious – stick with your preferred tool vendor to best leverage existing staff skills.


Remember that the best database is the one you can be most effective and efficient with. Don’t force a square peg into a round hole – pick your database based upon your organizations existing strengths. Only if all the above are not obvious, then start asking additional business questions like purchase cost, total cost of ownership over three years, and other issues. You may find that you never need to compare databases based upon their technology.