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Choosing ERP means choosing a database, too (Part 1)

16 April 2012

I like chocolate, you love vanilla. I’m a dog person, you prefer cats. I say tomato….well, you get the idea. People have deep-seated attitudes about all sorts of things. That extends to enterprise database technology, too. Some people can’t imagine running on anything but Oracle. Those with a more decided Microsoft bent will insist on the superiority of SQL Server. It’s a big deal; your database is where all your organization’s transactional records reside. It also determines the type of IT resources you develop and is the “platform” choice you have to make when choosing an ERP system.

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Choosing ERP means choosing a database, too (Part 1)

Database partisans, like everyone else, have preferences and biases about a number of things, including databases. In this three-part article we’ll compare SQL Server and Oracle databases, particularly in their ability to support an ERP system in small to medium-sized businesses (SMB), middle market and enterprise-level situations. Is one database platform really more complex to operate or expensive to run?   How well does each platform scale to support additional users and business growth?

Software vendors typically support one database or the other, though many support both. Those that have standardized on Oracle databases claim they do so, in part, because from the standpoint of security, scalability, reliability, and the ability to support mission critical business processes, Oracle databases are widely recognized as being both more robust and more failsafe than alternatives, as well as more scalable, faster, more reliable and, ultimately, more affordable.

Oracle databases have always been priced at the high end of the market, but that does actually mean they are more expensive or more difficult to operate and support than SQL. This was undoubtedly true a decade ago, but the competitive pressure SQL has brought to bear has led to Oracle adding numerous features, to expedite installation and management of the database, as well as adding features to automate storage management and memory management. Oracle has also developed diagnostic tools that can not only provide real-time information on the health of the database but also make intelligent recommendations about how to avoid problems or even improve performance based on the actual usage patterns of the database.

Choosing an ERP system that is designed exclusively for a single database is appealing because that application can be optimized to take advantage of everything the Oracle database has to offer, delivering more powerful querying and enterprise application search functionality than applications that support multiple databases. Enabling those powerful database features, if the application is not designed to leverage them, is a very complex task. Optimizing the ERP/database marriage also can lead to improvement in overall performance because the system is designed specifically to run on that database platform and is carefully tailored for the way a Oracle performs.  All of these things result in lower overall cost of ownership, higher reliability and a more satisfied end user because you will have greater uptime, greater performance, less maintenance overhead and system overhead by technicians.

One simple perspective on Oracle and SQL: Oracle’s technology was created for the most massive and complex applications, and grew to support the complex ERP implementations of the past two decades. In recent years, it has been scaled to serve SMB and medium size businesses as well, SQL Server, coming from Microsoft’s desktop/Windows perspective, is scaling up from the lower end of the market, and has been adding features and functionality to serve larger and larger ERP implementations.

Continued in Part 2


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