Institution's Complexity, Resources and Future Needs Influence Database Selection. (Industry Perspective)

By Keehn, Anne K. | T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), May 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Institution's Complexity, Resources and Future Needs Influence Database Selection. (Industry Perspective)

Keehn, Anne K., T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Selecting the right database requires a careful study of your institution's needs, the complexity of your campus infrastructure, the resources and skill level of your IT staff, as well as the capital you have available to invest today and in the future. It is a multifaceted decision that is much more complex than simply matching the size of your school to a database. Today, the most popular database choices for higher education are the Microsoft SQL Server and the Oracle database. To make an informed choice between the two, institutions should consider four areas: reliability, scalability, security and total cost of ownership.


The first step is to evaluate the features that are available in the database to ensure the integrity of your data, and to ensure that your data is safe in the event of a system failure or disaster. Both the Oracle database and the SQL Server provide similar capabilities for data backup and recovery. The difference is that the SQL Server 2000 only runs on the Windows platform, hence, it is highly optimized and integrated with the operating system. This allows it to take advantage of features inherent in the operating system, such as failover clustering, with minimal effort. In contrast, the Oracle database employs Real Application Cluster (RAC) technology that enables all servers to share and process data from a single database. The applications recognize that there are multiple servers and automatically do load balancing across them. As a result, applications will continue to run even if a server goes down.


In general, a system's scalability is measured in both its ability to manage increasingly large volumes of data and increasingly large numbers of users/transactions without compromising the system's overall usability and manageability. The two approaches for dealing with scalability are scale-up and scale-out. Scale-up is implemented by increasing the computing power of a single machine. This can be achieved by adding CPUs, memory, or enhancing the networking components and storage systems. Scale-out is achieved by adding more servers to the system so that the workload is spread over a number of machines.

The SQL Server is able to scale-up on systems with up to 32 CPUs and up to 64 GB of memory. It can also automatically take optimum advantage of any available resource on the system without the need for manual configuration. The Oracle database is able to scale-up well beyond 32 CPUs and greater than 64 GB of memory, thus allowing it to achieve a higher net throughput. Scale-up is the preferred approach for most institutions because it offers the simplest implementation. Also, advancements in chipset and server component technologies can enable a single server to exceed the requirements of even the most demanding environments.

The vendors implement scale-out differently. Oracle's RAC technology allows institutions to increase their processing power by adding servers to an existing cluster that the existing database will recognize and utilize. The Oracle9i database scales on all hardware platforms; from single processor and mid-range multiprocessor systems to large-scale SMP, MPP, mainframe and clustered environments. The Microsoft SQL Server implements the "shared-nothing" architecture in its scale-out approach where data from a single database is divided into multiple segments, with each segment residing on its own server and storage unit. These servers and storage units are not related, and the configuration and operation of each unit is independent of the others within the same cluster. Data is presented and accessed in a unified format with the use of Distributed Partitioned Views (DPV) that manage the access, retrieval and insertion of data at the back-end, regardless of which server it physically resides in.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Institution's Complexity, Resources and Future Needs Influence Database Selection. (Industry Perspective)


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?