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You know how some companies struggle to get work done as efficiently as they should or could because of internal bottlenecks, bad data and lack of real-time coordination between back-office and front-line employees? Well, TrackVia...Read more about TrackVia


Quickbase is a no-code collaborative work management platform that empowers citizen developers to improve operations through real-time insights and automations across complex processes and disparate systems. Here's why Quickbase i...Read more about Quickbase


Kintone is a cloud-based, customizable workflow management platform suitable for businesses of all sizes. The key features of the solution include compliance management, approval process control, forms management, event monitoring...Read more about kintone

SQL Connector for Jira

SQL Connector for Jira enables the export of structured data from Jira to SQL databases, enabling businesses with advanced reporting and analysis capabilities. SQL databases supported by SQL Connector for Jira: PostgreSQL, SQL Ser...Read more about SQL Connector for Jira

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Zoho Creator

Zoho Creator is an all-in-one low-code application development software platform that is designed to help businesses digitize their business operations without the hassle of traditional development. The solution enables profession...Read more about Zoho Creator

Instaclustr Managed Solutions

Instaclustr is an open source platform that assists DevOps and cloud native application managers by providing improved visibility into the performance of cloud orchestration, provisioning, and security in a unified ecosystem. The ...Read more about Instaclustr Managed Solutions

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Sequel Pro

Sequel Pro is a database management solution for Mac OS X. It allows users to easily manage MySQL databases on local and remote servers. Sequel Pro offers tools for working with tables, views, fields, records, and foreign keys; ex...Read more about Sequel Pro

4.0 (3 reviews)


Knack is cloud-based database management portal software that allows companies to build online databases that can be accessed remotely. Key features include an application builder, customization tools, reporting and analytics, an ...Read more about Knack

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Airtable is a cloud-based project management solution targeting small to midsize businesses as well as departments within larger companies. This system focuses primarily on data organization and collaboration. The system uses...Read more about Airtable

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DataSunrise Database Security

DataSunrise is a database security system that offers real-time data protection, auditing and data discovery. It provides activity monitoring, database security and data masking. The data auditing tool tracks user actions and...Read more about DataSunrise Database Security

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Rubrik is a data management solution that helps businesses streamline data backup, archiving, offsite replication and compliance management operations via a unified portal. It enables organizations to detect anomalies and protect ...Read more about Rubrik

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TablePlus is an on-premise database management solution that helps businesses manage multiple relational databases that include MySQL, Postgres, SQLite, Redis, Amazon Redshift and more. TablePlus is compatible with iOS devices. ...Read more about TablePlus

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ShieldQ is a cloud-based form automation and document management solution suitable for industries such as hotels, healthcare, accounting, finance, legal and hospitality. It allows users to create custom digital forms, receive data...Read more about ShieldQ

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dbForge Edge

dbForge Edge is an integrated environment for SQL Server, MySQL and MariaDB, Oracle, PostgreSQL management, administration, data reporting, and analysis. Its functionality is powerful enough to rush and polish all aspects of data...Read more about dbForge Edge

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Coginiti is an SQL analysis solution that helps organizations connect and manage various databases to collect, clean, transform and analyze business data. It enables data engineers and business analysts to design and maintain data...Read more about Coginiti

5.0 (1 reviews)


ArangoDB is a cloud-based multi-model database management software that helps create queries for graphs, documents and key values in one SQL-like query language. Designed for midsize to large businesses, its flexible data model su...Read more about ArangoDB

4.0 (1 reviews)


DataFox is a cloud-based business intelligence platform that helps small to large size firms get access to business data. It allows users to derive insights and compare data with overall data health report. It offers users feature...Read more about DataFox


The eXtremeDB hybrid DBMS is founded on an in-memory database system, allowing for IMDS strengths with on-disk durability. Choose between performance, cost, power, and space-conserving storage options. Program in native and SQL AP...Read more about ExtremeDB

5.0 (1 reviews)


Ninox is a cloud-based data entry solution used by small and midsize organizations. The solution helps in building database applications using features such as built-in templates, custom actions, scripting and drag and drop formul...Read more about Ninox

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Database Compare Suite

Supporting 16+ database platforms, Database Compare Suite allows you to easily compare two different database environments, no matter if it is a homogeneous or heterogeneous comparison. Database Compare Suite also gives our ...Read more about Database Compare Suite

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Buyers Guide

Last Updated: March 16, 2023

In the digital age, data is king. The businesses that can successfully store, maintain and make sense of their data have a clear competitive advantage, while those that let the flow of information overwhelm them are destined to fall by the wayside.

With businesses sitting on more data than ever before, the demand for software to handle this vital task is at an all-time high. According to Gartner, the database management system market totaled over $34 billion in 2016 (report available to Gartner clients).

All that to say: If you're in the market for a new database management system, you're not alone. If you're confused on what to look for or where to start with this software, you're certainly not alone there either.

We're here to help. In the Buyer's Guide below, we'll go over definitions, functionality, pricing models and more to help first-time database management system buyers like yourself make sense of this complex software arena.

Click a link below to jump to that section:

What Are Database Management Systems?

Two Types of Database Management Systems

Benefits of Database Management Systems

Database Management System Pricing

Database Management System Trends

What Are Database Management Systems?

Database management systems, also known as DBMSs, are software programs that act as a connecting point between databases and the various users and applications that need to access them. The purpose of a DBMS is to provide businesses with an access point to create, retrieve, modify and organize their vast amounts of data.

Though the terms have become somewhat synonymous over time, a database and a DBMS are not the same thing. A database is simply a collection of related data. A DBMS, on the other hand, is a tool to manage and organize multiple databases. In other words, the database stores the data, while the DBMS accesses and manipulates it.

Two Types of Database Management Systems

The database management system market is rarely static. As businesses' data capabilities and needs have grown over the past 40 years, the database management system has taken on many different forms.

Here are the two most common types of DBMSs you should know about:

1) Relational database management systems (rDBMSs)

Relational database management systems connect disparate data using tables with columns (“fields") and rows (“records"). The main advantage that rDBMSs bring is the ability to spread a single database across several tables, which provides benefits in terms of data storage and access capabilities. Most rDMBSs use what's called “structural querying language" (SQL): a series of commands that allow users or applications to retrieve or update data.


Visual database design in MySQL Workbench

According to Gartner, rDBMSs account for 89 percent of the total DBMS market, making them the bread and butter of the industry. Popular systems here include Oracle Database, Microsoft's SQL Server, MySQL and IBM's DB2.

2) Semi-structured database management systems

In contrast to the rigid tables of rDBMSs, semi-structured database management systems offer more flexibility. Data can be structured as much or as little as possible depending on the purpose, usually with tags or other markers to define attributes and categories. In the age of the internet where data takes many forms, semi-structured database management systems have become increasingly important, as they enable applications to communicate with one another with ease and without loss of information.


Service status in Cloudera Manager

Semi-structured DBMSs are on the rise. While they only represent five percent of the total DBMS market, their growth rate (78 percent) was the highest of any type of DBMS in 2016 according to Gartner. Big players here include Amazon, Cloudera and MapR.

The other major type of DBMS is called a “Prerelational-era DBMS"—an antiquated category that no longer has any relevance to first-time buyers.

Benefits of Database Management Systems

DBMSs provide a number of benefits to both internal users and external parties like customers or clients. If you're having trouble convincing stakeholders in your organization that new software is a worthwhile investment, let them know that a DBMS can provide:

  • Improved data access. A DBMS can make it possible for all your internal and external business applications to quickly retrieve information from a single source using ad hoc queries. Whether it's an online customer wondering if you still have that shirt in blue or someone on your marketing team wanting to know last month's ad spend, a DBMS can supply the right data in real-time.

  • Sustained data integrity. Data organized using different methods across multiple databases can result in a ton of errors when applications need to communicate with one another. A DBMS can provide data standardization and structure to ensure these costly errors don't occur.

  • Increased data security. Businesses big and small are concerned about data loss and hackers. A DBMS can ease these fears with features like dual authentication and data encryption to ensure that only those with authorization can access and manipulate different data sets.

Database Management System Pricing

A big headache when researching DBMS vendors is the lack of concrete pricing information. A lot of companies don't want to reveal how much their system costs for a number of reasons. The final price might vary from business case to business case or the vendor might simply want to get you on the phone to sell their system.

In general though, DMBSs will have one of two pricing models, which we explain in the table below:

Per-user subscription pricing

This type of pricing is more common with cloud-based systems. You pay a monthly or annual fee based on how many users will have access to the DBMS. Airtable is a good example of this approach.

Perpetual pricing

This type of pricing is more common with on-premise systems. With this model, you pay one large fee upfront to own the software in perpetuity. Oracle Database is a good example of this model.

Database Management System Trends

As I mentioned before, the DBMS market is always changing. Here are some trends to keep an eye on as you research different systems:

  • Database platform-as-a-service (dbPaaS). More and more, businesses are dropping their bulky, expensive, in-house servers to host their DBMSs in the cloud. Scalable and flexible, dbPaaSs are increasingly popular options to handle back-end data needs for e-commerce and mobile applications.

  • Open-source database management system (OSDBMS). The OSDBMS market is increasing in both system options and sophistication of features. If you have the IT bandwidth, consider an open-source DBMS for your business. Capterra breaks down some of the most popular offerings here.