Choosing a Database for Your Mobile App: Everything You Need to Know

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By Ivan Serrano

As the heart of most mobile apps, databases are a critical component to the success of an application. Although there are a multitude of different databases to choose from, they all have the same basic function; to collect data. To limit the need of relying on networks, applications utilize cloud services and databases that offer offline capabilities. This allows users to experience a non-sluggish and predictable app. Additionally, the use of a database permits users to input data through a one-time registration on apps, eliminating the need for repeated logins.

There are many advantages to leveraging databases for app development such as application release automation for seamless deployments and updates and many more. However, it is important to carefully choose the database options that will best fit your product and performance expectations. Here’s everything you need to know to choose the best database for your mobile app:

Types of Databases

There are several types of databases offered that you can choose from when building your mobile app. It is critical that you have a basic understanding of each one to understand which is right for your application.

  • Data warehouses – This type of database aggregates structured data from one or more sources. It allows organizations to store, collect, and analyze the data from the warehouses over the span of several years.
  • Distributed databases – A distributed database is for businesses that have multiple geographical locations. The storage devices used are not attached to a common processor, and instead are stored on multiple computers or networks.
  • End-user databases – This type of database is designed specifically with the end-user in mind. The type of data stored in end-user databases are created by the individual user.
  • Operational database – Also called a subject-era database or production database. This type of database stores data required for the regular operations of a project or business. Employee information, training statutes, proposals, and more are stored here.
  • Relational database – Supporting both single and multi file options, this database collects and stores data with predefined relationships between them. Data is organized in a set of tables with a unique key field that connects them to related tables.

It is important that the database you choose to use is the correct option for your longterm and short term needs. Opting for the wrong one can have complicated and expensive consequences for you later on.

With so many options to choose from, it may be difficult to select the right database for your mobile app. Here are some key factors that should be considered when evaluating multiple database solutions for your app!

Client Platform Support

One of the first things you need to take into consideration is the client platform. Are you planning on supporting Android, IOS, or both? If you intend on going beyond that, are you will to support non-traditional mobile devices, such as wearables, IoT devices, and embedded systems?

Although many of the applications of today start on mobile, a good amount of these apps transition to adding companion native desktop or web apps as well. It is ideal that each database you consider is evaluated based on the client platforms you want to use both now and further down the line.

Data Security

A high level of database security needs to be maintained at all times when dealing with with the collection and storage of data. Whether the database you choose is decentralized or synchronized, accessing and transmission secure data should still be easy. This is why the database you choose needs to have a flexible and clear authentication process, ability to support anonymous access, and allow access to public/standard/custom authentication providers. It is also important to address whether the database supports data at rest, data in motion, or read/write access.

Automatic Data Conflict Resolution

As the majority of platforms use decentralized data writes, they can experience conflict as the same data on multiple platforms and devices are being simultaneously modified. As data is stored in multiple copies, networks, and locations, changes to data may not update or replicate to all parts of a database. To resolve this conflict, the application needs to have a support mechanism that can automatically resolve conflicts.

When choosing a database, it is important to select one that has a good conflict resolution mechanism with flexibility. Among the options, the ones you are deciding between should be able to seamlessly enable conflict resolutions on multiple devices or update you when a conflict has arisen.

Syncing

Synchronizing systems has a great significance in the selection process for databases. Going hand in hand with data conflict resolution, controlling system synching is needed to operate an app smoothly. The process of controlling system syncs include: replication strategy, conditional replication, and replication filtering. Replication strategies support polling, streaming, one-time, push, and continuous. Conditional replication will replicate data under specified conditions, such as Wi-Fi being turned on. Lastly, replication filtering allows for chosen data to be replicated while choosing not to replicate other data.

Databases are essential to mobile apps. With built-in synching capabilities and the demand to make apps work efficiently both offline and online, databases enhance mobile offerings. From data warehouses to end-user databases, it is important to evaluate your options and choose the right one. Creating a secure and flexible.

About the Author
Ivan Serrano is a writer specializing in technology. He is from San Jose, California, and attended high school at Valley Christian High School. He transferred to San Francisco State University (go Gators!), and graduated with a double major in English (concentration in Creative Writing) and Journalism (with a concentration in photojournalism).

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