How Can the Right Database Save Development Time and Cost?

  • May 14, 2014
  • Feature

By Sasan Montaseri, ITTIA

We are entering an era of ubiquitous computing, in which billions of devices will be able to record vital information and communicate both with the Internet and each other. To manage the data stored on these devices, application developers must find a way to organize information efficiently, protect valuable data from failure, and accurately communicate with other systems. Embedded database software has proven to be the most effective technology for storing, managing and distributing data to other connected systems. Developers must plan for data management from the earliest stages of product development. Without the right database, developers risk incurring hidden costs as the complexity and scale of the application grows, including: data loss, inconsistency, poor performance, undetected conflicts, and boundless resource consumption. A database expert is an important resource to help answer common questions, such as: 1.    How to identify the hidden costs before starting development? 2.    What is a reasonable cost for an embedded database product? 3.    What database features will be important during development? 4.    How to prepare for firmware updates without losing valuable data?

Embedded Database Software An embedded database is used to manage data stored in embedded applications and devices. Designed to be hidden from the end-user, an embedded database links into the application or firmware as a self-contained software library. At minimum, a database provides a way to store and query data, such as SQL, and uses transactions to protect data. But a database is capable of much more. Other important important factors include:

  • portability, both of the storage format and application code;
  • self-administration, requiring no database administrator;
  • predictable resource allocation, especially run time memory overhead;
  • and data distribution capability.

To take advantage of optimization and unique features, developers need the support of knowledgeable experts. Backed by a dedicated database company that communicates with each individual developer to decide on current requirements as well as future update releases, the right embedded database provides a robust, scalable, and cross-platform solution for various development projects. Technical support and assistance during development is much more involved for embedded database than in other fields of software. Database technology is complex, and requires deep technical insight to use effectively. There will be times that you need in-depth familiarity and support for a feature in the database and cannot wait for public opinion to form a consensus or figure things on your own. If you need an answer immediately, it may cost more than you expect. Important Embedded Database Features and Characteristics When selecting an embedded database, it is important to consider both features that are exposed to the application and how the database itself is implemented. The choice of algorithms in a particular database product has a profound impact on performance and reliability in areas such as:

  • Frequency of costly disk or flash media I/O operations;
  • Time required to recover from a crash or power loss;
  • Query efficiency for high capacity storage;
  • Performance impact of sharing data between tasks and other applications;
  • Relative performance of read and write operations;
  • Portability of the storage format and application code;
  • Effort required to integrate database technology into the application.

An application must also be able to tune the database behavior to meet its specific requirements. For example, in some cases every change must be persisted immediately to protect vital information from unexpected power loss. Meanwhile, maximizing overall write throughput is more important in other cases. A database that supports transaction completion modes can handle both scenarios safely and efficiently. Key features that an embedded database can provide include:

  • Atomic transactions with configurable completion modes;
  • Concurrent shared access with multiple isolation levels;
  • Encryption, authentication, and other security capabilities;
  • Disk, memory, and hybrid storage models;
  • High availability features such as asynchronous and synchronous replication;
  • Synchronization with back-end RDBMS products.

Final Thought Selecting the best database technology in the early stages of application development avoids costly design changes later. Replacing a free solution only when its limitations become apparent can significantly delay a project and increase cost unexpectedly. A true relational embedded database empowers device applications with capabilities such as:

  • efficiently store, manage, and distribute data;
  • queries optimization;
  • tuning an application for best performance;
  • high-throughput transaction logging;
  • concurrency provided by row-level locking, peer-to-peer replication available both on demand and on commit;
  • standards-compliant SQL;
  • AES encryption.

By cutting out much of the effort required for software development, applications using an embedded database can be developed faster and at a much lower cost compared to the same application without a database library. In addition, software developers do not need to sacrifice performance in critical algorithms. And with the database supporting standards, the application can offer features that would otherwise be impractical to develop. ITTIA DB SQL is a true relational database which has organically grown by and for embedded developers. It enables manufacturers of embedded systems and mobile devices to rely on an out-of-the-box data management/connectivity framework to rapidly develop feature-rich applications that are ready to scale for the demands of enterprise applications.

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