Establishing a startup is most commonly the most exciting time for an entrepreneur. Exciting as it may be, this period is also unarguably the most difficult and stressful because the entrepreneur has many different things vying for his attention; all demanding immediate attention and seemingly critical for the survival of the business. To manage the successful launch of the startup, you need to be able to prioritize a long list of things to be done while recognizing that time is your most precious resource. Even though you may be battling with the implementation of technology, getting your plant and machinery in order, hiring the right team, and organizing the funding, you also need to pay attention right from Day One to the selection of the database. This is because in the contemporary business environment, typically most of your decision-making is based on the interpretation of the results you obtain from the database that is the engine of your business growth and performance.
Databases – The Real Growth Engines of Startups
Having the right database at the core of the information technology setup of your enterprise will ensure that your application performance is fast and smooth and acts as a powerful incentive for customers to come back repeatedly. The ideal database should also be very easy to setup and take less time to optimize and customize. On an ongoing basis, the hallmark of a good database is that it should not demand too much time in upkeep and maintenance by the CTO who is possibly also playing the role of the chief developer, database administrator, and the lead of the quality assurance team. Since each day is a race for sustainable growth while maintaining a tightrope walk between adequate funding and cash burnout, the database selected for the startup must be able to deliver results in this highly challenging business and technological environment.
Even though most database administrators and CTOs accustomed to large enterprise computation needs would tend to choose a SQL solution; however, for the purposes of implementing in a startup, a NoSQL solution may actually be more beneficial. Some good reasons:
Extremely Agile and Flexible
Perhaps the biggest feature of NoSQL databases is that they are schema-less. In database parlance, schemas are nothing but a list of items of data that will be required for the business operations along with the data type for each item in the list. Schemas have conventionally been envisaged to be completely rigid. While this is good for maintaining data integrity, changing data types is very difficult and time-consuming and most database administrators will not attempt such an exercise. Entrepreneurs will do well to understand that the schemas are akin to the foundation of a building so even if the requirement is critical, it is not possible to change it.
It is very common for entrepreneurs to keep learning on the go; typically, in the early stages of the startup, the entrepreneur actually knows the least and must undertake a very steep learning curve during that time to come to grips with the internal and external processes as well as the competitive environment. Therefore, when the startup takes a decision during its formative stages about the structure of the database, it is very easy to go wrong if a database with schemas has been selected. It can be next to impossible to face the challenges of the future if the database architecture places restrictions right at the very start regarding what you can do or not do.
According to a database administrator at RemoteDBA.com, a NoSQL database can be preferable, as it does not have any need for a schema. Additional data fields can be easily added if there is any demand due to the evolution of the business as this kind of a database is based on JSON documents. This makes NoSQL databases extremely agile as necessary changes can be made to the architecture as and when you need it without any fuss.
Ability to Work with Relational Databases
For businesses to function effectively, they often need their database applications to work seamlessly with other sources of data and extract it to make meaningful presentations to the user. The value of some of the most successful startups is based on how well they are able to use data from different sources, improve on them, and return it to the users in ways that are more meaningful. When you are using NoSQL, it is relatively easy to strip the data from other databases and migrate to the NoSQL database. Further, when using a NoSQL database, you take whatever data you want and change their labels if the original databases have the same information classified under different names or use different metrics for performing computations. With NoSQL databases, you have the flexibility of addressing the data in real-time and also integrate information at will from different databases.
Fast Setup Time
Even before the startup has been established, the clock starts to tick because typically, it is a race against time to produce results and make an impact in the market before the available cash runs out. NoSQL databases can be installed, setup, and made productive very quickly indeed, so that you get the head start that can often mean the difference between success and failure in reaching the next milestone.
It is normal for most startups to start slow and take their time to achieve rapid conversions; however, there are many reasons why on any given day the sales may rocket. When the traffic spikes, NoSQL ensures that you are not caught napping as it offers an architecture that is very easy to scale up. Within minutes of coming to know of the surge in traffic, you can increase the number of servers that replicate your database so that no customer experiences any latency and is able to complete the conversions without experiencing the delay that is common to unpredicted traffic surges.
It is very clear that in a situation when the entrepreneur is learning on the go as is typical of most startups, business databases have also to be equally agile and responsive. NoSQL databases are ideal for implementation in this kind of an environment being not only easy to implement and change but also scale up on demand.