Database development (DB development) refers to designing, implementing, and maintaining a database or a data model. The development process aims to create a structured framework for practical data storage and retrieval. With the total amount of data created, captured, copied, and consumed reaching 64.2 zettabytes in 2020, the demand for proper database storage increases.

But how are database solutions different, and what type should be used for faster data processing? What database types and development/maintenance steps prevail in the current data-related tech pool? Let’s discover the risks in database development, the most common development types, and how to choose the suitable model for particular business needs.

Database development types

It’s common to differentiate between relational (SQL) and non-relational (NoSQL) databases. The former refers to the way of sorting data in the form of tables, rows, and columns. The latter relies upon the less confined format, which has its advantages in flexibility and adaptability.

  • Relational databases include queries directly related to the database structure, allowing easy filtering, sorting, and computing. This type has strong points, such as data accuracy, normalization, and simplicity. In turn, SQL databases struggle with scalability, which requires the gradual increase in computing powers needed to perform queries.
  • Non-relational databases have been designed with the cloud in mind, making them suitable for horizontal scalability. Using JSON-like, key-value, graph, and wide-column structures, non-relational databases are more open to future changes and data storage types. This type is also more suitable for unstructured volumes of data, offering higher performance and availability.

To better understand database types, see the following graph that explains the differences between relational and non-relational databases.

Relational and non-relational databases, use cases, and types

Types of database software development

When strategizing how to approach the project database development, it’s necessary to outline the primary business objectives. One of the database development best practices is to review what type of service should be implemented carefully. It’s common to distinguish between consulting, database upgrading, migration, and custom development. However, database optimization and testing remain essential parts of any development plan. Let's review each of the services to understand better how DB development can differ.

Database consulting

If an enterprise uses legacy architecture or stores significant volumes of data on-premise, it’s crucial to prepare and strategize the action plan. The technology office has to go through the Product Discovery phase to evaluate the current database architecture. Only then the Data unit can identify pains and constraints, allowing specialists to choose an appropriate data strategy. 

Database upgrade

Database upgrade refers to upgrading the database to one version or another. Generally, this service can include the upgrade of the server, a mirrored environment, integration services, and replicated databases. Depending on the particular request, a database upgrade can be crucial for operational efficiency.

Database migration

Database migration can include migration from one database type to another to achieve greater scalability, performance, and availability. In other cases, if specific data type changes are needed, migration can also take place. Transferring data from one cloud to another, such as from AWS to Azure, also falls under this category. A company may also migrate a database from the on-premise solution to the cloud to optimize query and storage performance, and minimize operational efforts.

Database custom development

Custom development can range from solution consulting and planning to smart database integrations and crafting a unique solution depending on specific business requirements. This solution also includes database management and administration alongside the integration and support of cloud-native and cloud-agnostic application solutions. Furthermore, database development solutions for business needs can include designing and implementing multi-cloud and multi-model database solutions.

Database optimization

The optimization includes a deep analysis of the particular solution, followed by identifying the existing issues. Optimization aims to change the database model to correspond to the business domain and needs efficiently. It can include query optimization, reducing response times, and changing the database structure. Optimization can be a go-to solution for situations when the primary goal is to reduce the response time and enhance query performance.

Database testing

The testing stage is essential for any type of engagement with databases. In a suitable environment, specialized quality assurance specialists assess the database development risks using particular testing tools. Automated solutions accelerate the testing process and decrease the pending time. With a dedicated quality assurance team, it’s possible to apply the CI/CD best practices and ensure that database query works smoothly.

Challenges of database optimization and development

When working with either relational or non-relational databases, it’s vital to mind the everyday challenges. Storing and accessing vast volumes of data can pose several challenges for teams, the most important of which are:

  • Security and reliability. Databases are responsible for storing both public and private data. Confidentiality and compliance are necessary to ensure that the designed databases are safe from breaches. Misconfigured or incomplete security can cause a significant risk to databases, especially in cloud environments. Any data loss costs money and a business reputation. To omit the related losses, it’s a must to store, duplicate, and back up all data stored.
  • Managing scalability. The database volumes can grow exponentially in relational databases as the company exceeds its operational capacities. As the storage grows, there’s a good chance that you might need to update and query the database more often. With queries becoming more complex and data more distributed, scalability becomes challenging. Even if your database is designed to be scalable according to data needs, creating retention policies and erasing transient data seem viable approaches to scalability management.
  • Access management. Although it’s partially related to security, managing access is a crucial step in the database development process, which is also a challenge. Security issues might arise based on the existing access permissions, forcing organizations to reassess role-based access controls. While it’s not obligatory to map the accesses manually, building a robust infrastructure that treats accesses carefully is necessary for proper database functioning.
  • Data standardization. It’s technically possible to process database administration without standardization policies. However, finding and aggregating query-related data can be challenged if types and formats are misaligned. What’s more, if a particular database is being operated across multiple enterprise departments, data silos can result in poor queries. In turn, it can negatively impact performance, alongside wasting the company’s time and resources. Solving standardization issues is a go-to way for full-fledged database software development.

Challenges of database development

How database development and maintenance is crucial for business success

Database development and maintenance is an essential part of most data-related projects. Maintaining a database is critical for any organization to ensure that data storage and retrieval are smooth and error-free. Business-wise, database development platforms are all-important for data integrity, eliminating downtimes, and more. The most straightforward ways in which development is pivotal for business success include:

  • Data integrity. When a company's employees or clients constantly “feed” the data into various databases, the final result can be messy when a structured approach is missing. One of the best practices of database development is to ensure that data integrity is reached. With proper database management, companies clearly understand and control operational processes. Minimizing data inconsistencies and omitting data silos is a final objective that enterprises need to improve data quality.
  • Better security. Security issues become more relevant as more users have access to a database. Consequently, data storage can become prone to unwanted modifications or data theft. Database development platforms provide a better way for data privacy and security policies. This approach can improve data security on the company level, which is a must in current circumstances.
  • Eliminating downtimes. Some organizations and companies struggle with long query pending times, which can be detrimental to positive change. Legacy systems and database development platforms are clunky, rely on manual updating, and require massive downtimes. Modern database development solutions for business needs offer multi-model solutions, which eliminate downtimes and operate in the cloud environment.
  • Scalability and flexibility. Although scaling a relational database poses challenges, database development is still vital in the long run. As the data storage requirements become more demanding, applications must provide insight and responsiveness. Moreover, databases need to maintain a scale of agility, elasticity, and scale to process queries, making DB development a priority for data-driven enterprises.
  • End-user productivity. Depending on the business niche, database engagement can encompass anything, from CRM solutions to end-user applications. For end-users, who are people responsible for querying, updating, and generating insight-driven reports, working with a modern system is necessary. Operating in such an environment assists in making quick, informed, and better decisions that can make a difference from a business perspective.

Benefits of database development

Main reasons to outsource database development

Database development outsourcing can provide multiple benefits when working with the right outsourcing provider. Regarding administration and maintenance, database administration (DBA) outsourcing is often a standalone direction, which can provide enterprises with a competitive edge. But why outsource database development? The following reasons are convincing enough to consider the outsourcing database development model.

  • Cost-efficiency. The first and most apparent advantage of database development outsourcing is cost efficiency. Cooperation with a credible outsourcing provider focuses on delivering critical functionality without cutting corners. Regardless if you need a custom relational database or a multi-model cloud-powered solution, the final cost would be more accessible than hiring individual specialists on your own.
  • Dedicated team expertise. When choosing an outsourcing cooperation model, you can access a global pool of database-related experts. The benefits of this model are far-reaching, ranging from getting access to product discovery to cooperating with a team competent in DB development, maintenance, optimization, and integration. A reputable outsourcing partner will deliver a database solution that aligns well with your business objectives.
  • Reducing time-to-market. The decision to outsource database development can free up internal resources that would otherwise be devoted to this task. If an enterprise decides to cooperate with a dedicated development team, it can significantly accelerate the development cycle and reduce the database release, optimization, or migration, depending on the request.
  • New infrastructure solutions. A migration or optimization is necessary if the existing legacy infrastructure cannot satisfy stakeholders' querying requirements. In other cases, outsourcing can include developing and releasing multi-model, semi-structured, and custom solutions. With the database development process being delegated more often, it can become a strategic operation to design and implement modern database architecture.
  • Excluding workload fluctuations. Another essential point to mention is that you can omit any workload fluctuations. Partnering with a reliable DB development partner will proceed without significant workload fluctuations. Regarding database specifications, specialists will create backups for the existing data. Outsourcing database administration and development looks viable without disturbing workflow on the company level.
  • Creating a custom solution. While some companies might only require to operate with a simple time-series or cache database, others need SQL and NoSQL solutions combined. Crafting a tailored solution is best delivered by a dedicated team competent in database software development. A credible outsourcing partner will know how to deliver if you have specific requirements regarding cloud, on-premise storage, or combining relational and non-relational elements.

Main reasons to outsource database development

Success story: Combining SQL and NoSQL for improved maintenance


Gogo is a global provider of in-flight broadband connectivity and entertainment, with 1,000+ employees and 20+ years of experience. To ensure the flawless operation of all Internet systems, the client needed to collect and analyze vast amounts of data. These included a combination of structured data in a relational database, such as system uptime and latency, alongside unstructured data, including several concurrent Wi-Fi sessions and video streams. The client’s main goal was to build and maintain a unified data platform stored in the cloud.


The N-iX team has decided to migrate the client's solution to the cloud to enable processing and data storage. The solution was designed as a unified data platform, in aggregate with AWS, Hadoop, and Spark technologies. N-iX also integrated various data sources to build a robust reporting and analytics solution to bring actionable insights.

Value delivered:

  • Combining structured and unstructured data sources to collect and analyze vast amounts of data, leading to action-driven insights;
  • Building a data lake for efficient storage and data retrieval from all sources;
  • Developing a custom data platform that integrates data from 20+ sources using Spark.

Read more: Big Data Analytics for Improved Maintenance and Flawless Operation of the In-flight Internet

Success story #2: Faster time-to-market with full-scale digital transformation

Lebara is one of Europe's fastest-growing mobile virtual network operators with millions of active customers in 10 countries. The company offers Pay As You Go SIM cards and related products and services. Lebara needed to update its legacy IT infrastructure and undergo a full-scale digital transformation.

The Big Data team at N-iX contributed to the data warehouse development by rebuilding the system architecture and data flows. The previous data warehouse was built on the on-premise approach, using MS SQL Server, SQL Server Integration Services, and SQL Server Reporting Services. The N-iX team provided various services, including project database development, quality assurance, business intelligence, and database administration.

Value delivered:

  • Implementing a multi-cloud strategy that provides a greater extent of flexibility;
  • Simplifying business processes and improving the management of commerce data flows;
  • Creating a seamless omnichannel user experience;
  • Reducing infrastructure expenses and improving the product’s scalability.

Read more: Faster time-to-market with full-scale digital transformation in telecom

Develop a custom database solution with N-iX

Why choose N-iX for database development services?

  • N-iX is a reliable European engineering vendor with 21+ years of experience in custom software development and technology consulting;
  • The company’s Data unit consists of 200+ experts who delivered 30+ Data projects;
  • N-iX has broad technological expertise that focuses not only on database development but also on Data Analytics, Embedded and IoT, Cloud solutions, AI, ML & Data Science, and Digital Transformation, among the few;
  • N-iX is a one-stop-shop for database and Data solutions that range from Product Discovery and optimization to migration and custom infrastructure solutions;
  • N-iX is compliant to industry standards and regulations, including ISO27001, ISO9001, ISO 27001:2013, PCI/DSS, and GDPR;
  • The company has been recognized by CRN among the leading solution providers in North America, proven by Solution Provider 500 and CRN Fast Growth 150.

Have a question?

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N-iX Staff
Valentyn Kropov
Chief Technology Officer

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