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Database Hosting FAQ
By: Developer Shed
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    Learn about database hosting, whether you need it and what is involved in our database hosting FAQs section.

    What is Database hosting? 
    In most cases a database host is a specific kind of dedicated server, which is going to be used to run a database intensive application. The server can either be just for the database itself or it could also run the web site too, it really depends on how much system resources will be needed by the database. A system setup to run intense database applications will have a significant amount more RAM than a regular server. For example, if you are looking at a regular web-hosting server and you think 512 Megs will be enough then you would probably be looking at between 1 Gig to 2 Gigs for a database server.

    Who needs a database host?
    Anyone who is using a database intensive program like a CRM, ERP, or a custom made application should look into a database host because they have more memory, which will increase the speed and reliability of the application.

    Why use a database server? 
    A database server is just a specific kind of dedicated server. So if a database server fits your needs it is something you should look into.

    What are some applications that might run on a database server? 
    Some examples of applications that are used on database servers are CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems.

    Can a database server only be used for a database? 
    No a database server can be used for anything but it is a specific kind of dedicated server that is setup to get the maximum performance out of a database or applications that rely heavily on a database. To do this the server has a large amount of memory and a few other configurations are done so that the database is the priority over anything else running on the system.

    Why do database servers contain more RAM? 
    Database servers are interesting pieces of software in that they store megs and even gigs of information in tables, which are made up of columns and rows, and yet doing a simple command we can get a result set that match the information we want in a matter of tenths of a second. Just as an example, google.com strives to keep all its searches down below half a second and they have over 3 trillion web pages in their database.

    Very quickly, without getting to in-depth on how database software works, I will cover why having more RAM usually speeds up the process of getting data from a database. It is about 10 times faster to get data out of RAM, as it is to get data off a hard drive. This means that if we were to store some of the database data in RAM then getting results from that data in ram would be at least 10 times faster than if we pulled it off of the hard drive. Due to this fact database software developers use special algorithms to figure out what data to store in RAM so that results from queries are faster. The more RAM the server has the more data from the database can be stored in it and that leads to faster results. When the database is the key part of the entire application faster is always better so this is why database servers have so much more ram than a regular web server.

    Does my E-commerce site need a database host? 
    Chances are you do not need a database host for your E-commerce site, you probably just need a web-hosting package/plan that gives you access to a database. The difference here between a database host and having access to a database is significant. When doing database hosting the database is the most important part of the entire application and is where all the processing is done.

    What kind of administration is needed? 
    Just like in a dedicated server there is a lot of work to be done. Unlike a regular dedicated server though there will be more time spent on doing database administration tasks: optimizing tables and other database specific tasks.

    If you do not know exactly what needs to be done or don’t have someone to do it for you then you might be interested in a managed system. A managed system is where the hosting company does some or most of the system security patching for you. This also includes general maintenance in most cases but you should ask about specifics.

    Other companies that don’t have “managed” database servers are usually able to sell you a service along with your hosting package for a monthly fee, which usually includes patching of the server and regular maintenance. Then beyond that they will do optimization of the tables and check to make sure the tables are setup in such a way that it does not take more resources than it should in terms of how long it takes for queries to finish running. If you needed a database server and do not have the time or desire to do all the maintenance on it then you might be interested in looking for a managed server or at least an add-on service package that will have the hosting company take care of the maintenance for you. 

    What about custom software on a database server?
    The developer of the software should give you guidelines as to how much disk space, memory, and processing power is needed just to run the software. They should also tell you what is required per user beyond just running the server. From this point you will have to figure out how many users will be connected at the same time. Once you know how many users will be connected at the same time and how much resources are needed per user just do the simple multiplication to figure out exactly what is going to be needed. A database server is great for applications that heavily use a database and require a lot of memory so if your results show you need a lot of memory then a database server is the best way to go.

    Glossary of terms:

    A database is a collection of data in tables and rows arranged in such a way that searching and retrieving the data is quick.

    “The world’s most popular open source database” as they say. MySQL does not have all the features the other database servers have but because it leaves out a few features it tends to be faster than some of the other database servers.

    MS SQL
    “The enterprise relational database management and analysis system” as Microsoft calls it. Microsoft’s SQL server runs on the Windows operating system.

    Customer Resource Management systems usually run on database servers because they are database intensive applications. While there are some web based CRM systems most are not web based and therefore require a special client to connect to the system. CRM systems are used to manage issues with customers to make sure no one is left unhappy.

    Enterprise Resource Planning systems usually run on database servers much like CRM systems because they are database intensive applications. Much like CRM systems, ERP systems are not usually web based either and require a special client to connect to the application. ERP systems are used to help companies manage their resources from money to personnel to make the most of what they have.

    Dedicated Server
    The Dedicated Hosting environment provides an exclusive server or servers devoted solely to your web site. You do not share a server with other customers, as with shared hosting.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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