Our world is saturated with information. Databases help businesses be efficient despite this saturation by providing a way to organize, manage, analyze all relevant information.
Databases are especially important in the social networking industry. This industry contains an overwhelming amount of data; almost 3 billion people use social network platforms each month and this number is constantly increasing. Each of those 3 billion users leaves virtual traces on the network, data that must be stored and organized. Each profile, post, like, share, etc., constitutes another piece of data to be saved.
Databases must be adapted to handle this volume of information. Social media organizations can’t function without proper data organization and storage. Data must be easily retrievable for user interaction, ad targeting, and other business purposes.
So, how do businesses and developers position their databases to support social networking?
Focus on Database Architecture Design
It can be tempting to take shortcuts when designing a database. Developers may be focused on what a business needs immediately, but they also need to be future-oriented. If a database isn’t designed to be flexible and adaptable, it will eventually break down. Social media databases have to wrangle with terabytes of information every day. They must be developed to handle that scale of data and respond flexibly to new streams of information. FaceBook, for example, has harnessed a constellation of interlinking databases to provide adequate storage and flexibility.
Create a design climate where developers feel they have the freedom to ideate. Actively encourage brainstorming and experimentation. Avoid focusing so much on immediate results that you don’t also prioritize future needs. Even if you don’t currently need them, build out database features if there’s a good chance they will help your business in the future.
Use Agile Database Development
Increasingly, Agile database development is key to scaling databases. Agile development is an important innovation in database development. Traditionally, developers would use the waterfall methodology, a process that required extensive documentation on a project before any coding could be done. Developers and business people worked to describe every aspect of a project before it began, from functionality to software architecture to user interface. This documentation could fill hundreds of pages. Developers would only begin coding after it was finished. The entire process could stretch for years.
While waterfall methodology promoted thoroughness, it also severely limited how quickly businesses and developers could roll out technology and respond to market fluctuations. In the internet age, this methodology could not keep up with business needs. Agile development solved this problem; it emphasized collaboration, self-organization, innovation, creativity, and flexibility. It cut most administrative documentation from the coding process. Businesses which effectively employ the benefits of Agile development can evolve much more quickly and naturally, an enormous competitive advantage.
The whole aim of Agile development is to make quick, responsive changes and experiment with improvements. However, this approach might seem foreign to database administrators (DBAs), who are tasked with keeping data secure. Data is often a company’s most valuable component—and database administrators know how much is at stake if data security is jeopardized. This may make them less open to the Agile development process, which might feel too unstructured and insecure. Part of effective database management is creating a culture that addresses these tensions. Impress upon database administrators that, while security is still key, the developers’ flexible way of working won’t jeopardize it. While DBAs and developers don’t often work together, closer collaboration between the two can lead to breathtaking success. DBAs often understand the big picture and goals of a database more intimately than developers. Consider having your DBAs serve as advisors and coordinators for the development team.
Pay Attention to Past Success
While your business may choose to hire a team of developers and build a database from scratch, you can also choose to work with existing technology. Many businesses have done this successfully. Twitter relies on a MySQL database, which processes about 250 million Tweets per day without a problem. Twitter was able to modify an existing technology to fit their business needs, asking developers to reverse engineer their database from current software.
This strategy may be a good fit for your business as well. Evaluate whether you can acquire the functionality you need from existing technology if that technology would be cheaper and if it could scale to your future demands. If it can, reverse engineering old solutions may be the best fit for your business.
Social networking creates a massive amount of information which needs to be stored and organized. Databases can accomplish that goal. Using Agile development, leaving time for design, creating a culture of collaboration, and evaluating existing solutions helps you design a database that fits your needs.