Is SharePoint a Potential Database Replacement?

According to Microsoft, the SharePoint platform empowers users to access, store, organise and share information on any device. It is ideal for collaborative projects, providing the ability to create websites. Users can choose to access it locally or remotely, with an option to install a SharePoint server for additional functionalities and to utilise accompanying software.

SharePoint boasts numerous advantages, including its adaptability, easy administration, customisation capability, content and document handling, collaborative features, centralised workspace, compatibility with various applications, reinforced security, intuitive design, design support, content management, and assistance in streamlining business procedures. Frequently, users question whether SharePoint can be used as a database, primarily because of its similarity to databases in terms of data storage and validation.

SharePoint as a data storage platform While it is technically feasible to build a content database using Microsoft SharePoint, it is not advisable due to the absence of support for key database functions. In the subsequent sections, we will delve into the possibility of creating a SharePoint content database, assess its benefits and drawbacks, and examine various database choices and alternatives to SharePoint.

Challenges Associated with Employing SharePoint as a Database

It is imperative to understand that SharePoint is not an appropriate database solution because it lacks the ability to manage database-related activities. These activities encompass functions such as collecting, storing, retrieving, sorting, and manipulating data, among others. Additionally, SharePoint does not possess the necessary capacity to establish data relationships which are fundamental to database operations.

As this system has limited capacity and is only compatible with a few formats, it is unsuitable for businesses that handle substantial quantities of data. Fortunately, there is an array of database programs available that are purpose-built for this task.

In its assessment of SharePoint, Nakivo, a backup software provider, has underscored some database functions that are presently absent from SharePoint. It is essential to bear in mind that these functions are critical to the efficient operation of a database; without them, it is not feasible to use an application as a database for storing and retrieving data.

  • Cross-table relationships

    including one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many
  • Primary and foreign keys

    – a unique ID system utilized to link related tables that have a parent-child relationship
  • SQL, or Structured Query Language

    – the existence of a universal programming language that simplifies the generation of intricate query scripts
  • Pre-defined operations

    – code snippets that can be reused and are saved in a database
  • Transactions

    – changes made to a database that are divided into “work units.”
  • Effective indexing and query processing

    – measures taken to enhance database performance
  • Large-sized instances or binary data

    – all categories of media files, photos, music, and videos
  • Moving away from SharePoint

    – insufficient functionality due to incapacity to link to external systems

Why Should SharePoint Be Used as a Database?

Notwithstanding these shortcomings, some users may still consider SharePoint an attractive database for the following reasons:

  • SharePoint lists appear like database tables at first glance, with multiple columns and data types.
  • DBA access is not required to provide a new schema.
  • The platform provides a user-friendly, scalable interface for managing data.
  • SharePoint applications are self-contained and do not require synchronization with external data storage.
  • Data migration does not necessitate synchronization.

Despite being reasonable, these justifications lead individuals to neglect the usage of databases that would outperform them in almost every scenario.

Different Database Options

Microsoft’s Power Apps is a database development solution that works seamlessly with both SharePoint and other Microsoft applications. This dynamic tool can be utilized by developers and non-developers alike, allowing for a broader audience to reap the benefits of its implementation. Furthermore, it is possible to develop database applications directly from a SharePoint list. Similar to SharePoint, the Microsoft SQL Server database management system can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.

The subsequent products are viable database substitutes and are utilized by a diverse array of enterprises:

  • Oracle

    – a widely-used commercial DBMS for managing relational data
  • MySQL

    – A highly popular database, especially for developing web applications.
  • PostgreSQL

    – A type of database management system frequently employed in “big data” scenarios.
  • MongoDB

    – Designed for organizing document-based data.
  • IBM DB2

    – Developed for fast, real-time processing and low-latency analytics.
  • Cassandra

    – A big data management software that offers a highly scalable database solution.
  • MariaDB

    – A DBMS that can establish a connection with MySQL servers and respond to MySQL clients.

The ensuing video offers guidance for Google Cloud users in selecting the appropriate database for varying usage situations.

Creating a Database in SharePoint

It’s crucial to keep in mind that SharePoint is not a suitable option for a database solution. Nevertheless, SharePoint Server permits the inclusion of content databases. Microsoft has furnished comprehensive guidelines on how to establish a new content database, or link a current content database from a backup file to a web application, which can be found on their website.

Microsoft advocates for releasing an Access database to SharePoint because of its diverse range of features that boost data security and management, facilitate data sharing within an organization or over the internet, and promote the creation of database applications that don’t necessitate the use of Access. Once the online database has been generated and issued using Access 2023 and Access Services, users who have accounts on the SharePoint site can access it via a web browser.

Apart from the instructions given for incorporating content databases in SharePoint Server, Microsoft also provides documentation for handling SharePoint databases. This consists of details on how to connect and detach content databases, transfer site collections from one database to another, and oversee a farm that employs read-only databases.

Managing a SharePoint Database

In summary, SharePoint is an exceptional tool for document management, exhibiting some database-like characteristics. However, it was not intended to function as a database substitute. Hence, those requiring a database alongside SharePoint should look for other database solutions, some of which have the ability to integrate with SharePoint.

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