Sometimes businesses have legacy database systems within their computer systems that they know aren’t serving them but they are too afraid to take the plunge and build something new and reliable. It may seem too costly or too time-consuming. But, in some cases, building something new with the latest technology might be a short-term pain for long-term gain scenario.
When the decision has been made to build a new database, it is a process that must be well-thought out, planned and executed. It requires an experienced database professional, sometimes more than one, depending on how complicated the requirements of the business are, and how complex the database will need to be. There is a standard practice for database development which database professionals are trained in. This is called the database development life cycle.
The database development life cycle is a process which involves the creation of a database, from before its inception, right through to its maintenance and monitoring. Each phase within the life cycle is important, but getting the earlier ones done right will mean saving time and money later down the line. Like building a house, it’s important to get the foundations right. The steps are sometimes referred to as a waterfall model because a step must be completed before moving on to the next step. Below are the database development phases, although some technical teams may break this further down into more detailed steps.
Requirements gathering and analysis
Would you build a house with five bedrooms if you only need two? Requirements gathering is all about defining what the requirements of the business are. Why do they need a database? What do they need from the database? How do they expect the database will be used? What kind of interface will it have?
These questions may seem overwhelming to a business specialist who doesn’t know the intricacies of database development, that’s why the requirements phase must involve technically-minded individuals like database specialists who ideally also understand business. They know how to ask the right questions to gather the information they need to design the database in the most efficient and effective way. They will spend time with the business to understand their day-to-day processes and they will also speak to different people to understand the needs of the business.
It is imperative that the scope of the database is defined here and that all requirements are gathered, documented, and analyzed. It could be that it is established that software engineers me need to be invited into the process if a separate user interface needs to be built to communicate with the database.
This is where the requirements of the business are translated into a database design. An experienced database professional will create detailed documentation of the design with accompanying diagrams of the physical and logical design. It will include all the tables that will exist within the database, and how they relate to one another. It will also include other details like what indexes will be used, access privileges, and a breakdown of stored procedures. Stored procedures are like database transactions which allow for the reading, writing and retrieval of data.
Other specifications that are considered in the design process is how the database will be stored and accessed and what kind of database software will be used, for example SQL server or Microsoft Access. A software design may also be taking place during this phase concurrently if a separate user interface application will also be developed. The software engineers and database specialists will work side by side to create a sound design that avoids data duplication and allows for fast access to the database.
In this phase the database is built based on the design with any software development taking place concurrently. If a legacy system already exists, this phase will also involve the transfer of data from the old database to the new database. This may sound simple but will likely involve data cleaning by an experienced database practitioner. If the legacy system was clunky and outdated, more time will be required. This phase will also involve the database being validated and tested including any interaction with any software that will be used to access it. Any design or data problems are addressed in this phase before the system goes live. Database security is implemented to ensure the database is secure and stops unauthorized access.
Monitoring and maintenance
The system goes live! The phase involves the final system release. But first a detailed disaster and recovery plan must be established and implemented. The database should be monitored by expert database administrators to spot any issues that might become bigger down the road.
Having an experienced database team assist your business with the creation of a new database will ensure that everything that needs to be considered will be considered, including database security. This ensures that a robust database is built, one that can be easily modified as your business expands. If your database is designed by experts, it will be efficient and run faster. Investing in this process will ensure that your business doesn’t run into problems with its database in the future as this can prove costly, much more costly than investing at the start of the process. There is nothing worse than a slow, unreliable database that is constantly crashing. Contact the experts at Everconnect to find out how they can help you build the best database that caters to your business needs.