Is SharePoint a Potential Database Replacement?

Microsoft states that the SharePoint platform enables users to “save, organise, share and access information from any device”. It can be used to create websites for collaborative projects. Teams can opt to use it either locally or remotely, with the option of installing a SharePoint server for further features and the use of accompanying software.

SharePoint’s many benefits include its versatility, straightforward management, customisability, content handling, document handling, collaborative capabilities, centralised workspace, application compatibility, enhanced security, user-friendly design, design assistance, content management, and help in optimising business processes. Users commonly inquire whether SharePoint can be employed as a database due to its similarity to databases in terms of data storage and validation.

SharePoint as a data repository It is technically possible to create a Microsoft SharePoint content database, however, this is not recommended due to a lack of support for essential database operations. In the following sections, we will explore the potential of developing a SharePoint content database, evaluate its advantages and disadvantages, and consider different database options and alternatives to SharePoint.

Problems with Using SharePoint as a Database

It is important to note that SharePoint is not a suitable database solution due to its lack of capability to manage database-related tasks. These tasks include data collection, storage, retrieval, sorting, and manipulation, among others. Furthermore, it does not have the necessary capacity to create data linkages which are integral to database functionality.

This system has a limited capacity and is only compatible with a few formats, making it unsuitable for businesses which handle significant volumes of data. Fortunately, there are a range of database programmes available which are specifically designed for this purpose.

Nakivo, a company that produces backup software, has highlighted a few database functionalities that SharePoint is currently lacking. It is important to note that these components are integral for the effective functioning of the database; without them, it is not possible to use an application as a database for storing and retrieving information.

  • Cross-table relationships

    and many-to-many as well as one-to-many and many-to-one
  • Keys, both primary and foreign

    – a system of unique IDs used to connect related tables that have a parent-child relationship
  • SQL, or the Structured Query Language (SQL)

    – the availability of a common programming language that facilitates the creation of elaborate query scripts
  • Pre-recorded Operations

    Code snippets that may be used again and again and are saved in a database
  • Transactions

    Modifications to a database are broken down into “work units.”
  • Efficient indexing and query processing

    – actions taken to improve database efficiency
  • Instances with large sizes or binary information

    All kinds of media files, pictures, music, and videos
  • Getaway from SharePoint

    Inadequate utility because of inability to connect to outside world

As a Database, Why Use SharePoint?

However, despite these drawbacks, SharePoint may still be seen as a desirable database by certain users. Reasons why

  • When you first look at a SharePoint list, you may be reminded of a database table, what with all the columns and data kinds.
  • The ability to supply a new schema does not need DBA access.
  • The system offers a readily used, extendable interface for managing data.
  • SharePoint applications are independent of external data storage, thus no synchronisation is required.
  • There is no synchronisation required for data migration.

Despite their rationality, these explanations cause people to avoid using databases that would be much superior to them in nearly every circumstance.

Distinct Database Choices

Power Apps is a database building solution from Microsoft that is compatible with SharePoint and other Microsoft programmes. This powerful tool is accessible to both developers and non-developers, enabling a wider range of individuals to benefit from its use. Additionally, it can be used to create database applications from a SharePoint list. The Microsoft SQL Server database management system can be deployed either on-premise or in the cloud, similar to SharePoint.

The following products are also good alternatives to databases, and they’re employed by a broad range of businesses:

  • Oracle

    – a popular commercial DBMS for managing relational data
  • MySQL

    “Very widely used database, notably for creating web applications
  • PostgreSQL

    – a kind of database management system often used in “big data” settings
  • MongoDB

    built for managing document information
  • IBM DB2

    Created for real-time processing and low-delay analytics
  • Cassandra

    Big Data Management Software – Highly Scalable Database Software
  • MariaDB

    – a DBMS that can connect to MySQL servers and serve MySQL clients

The following video provides some advice for Google Cloud customers on which database to choose for different use scenarios.

Making a Database in SharePoint

It is important to note that SharePoint is not suitable as a database solution. However, SharePoint Server does allow for the addition of content databases. Microsoft has provided detailed instructions on how to create a new content database or connect an existing content database from a backup file to a web application, which can be found on their website.

Microsoft recommends publishing an Access database to SharePoint due to the variety of enhancements it offers with regards to data security and management, data sharing within an organisation or over the internet, and the creation of database applications that do not require the use of Access. Once the online database has been created and published using Access 2023 and Access Services, users with accounts on the SharePoint site can access it via a web browser.

In addition to the guidance provided for adding content databases in SharePoint Server, Microsoft also offers documentation for managing SharePoint databases. This includes information about attaching and detaching content databases, migrating site collections between databases, and managing a farm that utilises read-only databases.

How to Manage a SharePoint Database

To summarise, SharePoint is an excellent tool for document management, possessing certain database-like qualities, however, it was not designed to be a substitute for a database. Therefore, those who require a database in addition to SharePoint should seek out alternative database solutions, some of which have the capability to integrate with SharePoint.

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