SaaS comes in many colors and flavors. But no matter how exotic the SaaS-option you’re looking into, you will soon discover that a good and flexible database is pretty essential if you want your SaaS to work.
So whether you are developing a SaaS-solution of your own, or are just curious to discover more about how databases work, we’ve looked into some open-source database software options.
What exactly is database management software?
Database management software is nothing more (or less) than a software system that lets you handle data. It facilitates storage, manipulation, and reading of data in a format that allows you to use it in other software.
#1 MariaDB – to cloud, or not to cloud?
So, what do you call it when software isn’t in the cloud? Down-to-earth? Because that’s exactly what the Northern-European MariaDB is. It’s open-source, with an active community that regularly publishes patches and updates. It’s also no-nonsense: a simple open-source relational database package. It’s flexible, as it allows data insertion, data modification, and retrieval of data. And it’s not cloud-based. If you want to use this one, you’re going to have to download it onto your desktop or laptop.
So how on earth did MariaDB manage to get our attention? Well…what WordPress is to websites, is MariaDB to databases.
There is a number of vendors who have obtained a commercial license to use MariaDB. So while MariaDB isn’t cloud-based in itself, if you need a cloud-based database, you might just come across a vendor selling you a MariaDB-based cloud-solution.
Rest assured, you wouldn’t be the first client using cloud-based MariaDB: already about 75% of the fortune 500 companies use MariaDB.
Now, this is something that spreads happiness, here in the offices of SaaS-community: it’s open-source and it is cloud-based. It’s Airtable.
Technically, San Francisco-based Airtable isn’t just a database management system, as it also features a built-in Kanban dashboard functionality. This software management system offers data tables, attractive visualisations, user permissions, and document history tracking.
Users are especially appreciative of the easy-to-use pre-built database templates. It’s not just power users who get to enjoy databases anymore, thanks to Airtable, using databases is becoming mainstream.
Thanks to these formats, you can get started with lead management, bug tracking and applicant tracking without having to invest development time. However, on the downside, the relational database functionality is somewhat limited.
Airtable is available as a free plan, but once your database has more than 1200 records, an upgrade to a paid plan is essential. The Airtable Plus package ($10/month) allows up to 5,000 records, whereas the Pro-package ($20/month) lets you store up to 50,000 records.
Data is awesome. However, if you want to present your management team with options, you cannot just swamp them in numbers. You need to present the data in visuals that are transparent, insightful, and easy to read.
Enter GraphDB, an amazing graphical database management software option that is available for deployment on-premise, or as a cloud service.
Tag and analyze data semantically, visualize data in knowledge graphs or find statistical relationships between different variables.
The opinion of users on GraphDB is somewhat mixed. On the one hand, the tool is easy to set up and has an intuitive user interface, but once you start importing large data files, GraphDB needs a bit of processing time.
Ontotext, the Bulgarian company behind GraphDB offers a free plan for users who don’t mind the limited processing capabilities. However, if you need more, you will need to turn to either the GraphDB Standard plan (which offers higher performance), or the GraphDB Enterprise plan (which is fully supported). Pricing of these plans is negotiated separately with each client.
Who has never dreamt of having a little helper to take care of your tasks? MyTaskHelper, by QuintaDB, has chosen a very appealing name, but does their product deliver on the promises?
Let’s start with the positives: as a cloud-based database management software option, MyTaskHelper is all about relational databases. In that field, it takes a lead on the competition (such as Airtable).
MyTaskHelper offers: a form builder helping you fill those empty records and user permissions ensure only those who should, can edit and see. Furthermore, it has team calendars, and email/SMS notifications.
The free version of MyTaskHelper is quite limited. It allows you to create up to 5 forms, which can result in a maximum of 1,000 records. If it is forms you are after, Google offers a more flexible and powerful option. More, users of MyTaskHelper report that building your own custom tables is kind of difficult. And since the pool of pre-built databases isn’t all that big, chances are you’re going to want to build your own.
Some people love coding. We’re not really like that. If we want to build a form, we just like to drag-and-drop elements, and not have to type endless lines of code. The people at Sonadier love coding. But they also understand us. That’s why they coded us that nice and smooth drag-and-drop interface.
Sonadier is fully cloud-based and offers user data sharing permissions, import/export options, data versions, and file management. The free plan Sonadier offers is limited, but still a lot more powerful than the options we’ve discussed before. With this software, you get up to 10,000 records.
The downside, however, is that you only get to add 5 users. If you want to add an extra user, you’re going to have to upgrade. When you do this, you also get advanced features:
- Version history
- Custom user groups
- Single sign-on
- Custom domains
If you want a database that works, any of the options described above can help you out. However, some might be more suitable for your personal situation than others. What’s your experience? We’d love to find out!