There are many offerings for the mobile app database, which makes it very challenging for the developers to choose the right one for the business apps they build. In this blog, we discuss various criteria and uses cases to help the developers choose to make faster and scalable mobile apps.

Mobile database challenges

Whether you are making a new mobile application or adding more features to your app, then choosing the right database may be overwhelming with many choices. It is largely possible that your existing database may not be sufficient to handle the ever-increasing data volume and users with frequent updates. The major challenges you may face with a compromised database are:

  • Difficulty in handling complex queries
  • Store the data offline.
  • Managing object relations at scale

So, the users must be able to communicate effectively with the customer. However, if the database is compromised, the customer may miss much important information sent through the app. Many corporates had the same challenge as Uber, which later migrated their dataset from PostgreSQL to MySQL. Uber had made this change while they experienced inefficiency in database replication with constant migration from one version of PostgreSQL to another.

Possible databases

Further, we will discuss some of the top popular databases for Android and iOS mobile apps. You can select the ideal one based on the objective of your mobile apps and the requirements.

  • MySQL: It is an open-source and multi-threaded database which is very easy to use.
  • PostgreSQL: Another open-source and powerful database, which is object-based and relational and also highly customizable.
  • Redis: Redis is also an open-source database, which needs only low maintenance. The key/value store of Redis can be used effectively for data caching in mobile apps.
  • MongoDB: It is a JSON document database that is schema-less and offers a high degree of scalability and flexibility.
  • Memcached: A distributed cache system that is multi-threaded and is useful for caching objects. It can also speed up applications by reducing the database load.
  • MariaDB: A very popular open-source RDBMS created by the MySQL developers.
  • Cassandra: An open-source NoSQL database available for free and designed to handle a large volume of structured and unstructured data at scale.
  • SQLite: It is an embedded DB, which can offer local data storage on mobile phones itself.
  • InfluxDB: It is an open-source and quick time-series DB, which is written in the Go language.
  • RethinkDB: Document-oriented, open-source database stores data in JSON and can sync in real-time with the application.
  • Riak DB: It is a NoSQL database distributed and ensuring high availability and fault tolerance. Data resiliency is another major feature of Riak DB.
  • CouchDB: It is a NoSQL, database that uses JSON to store data and JavaScript as the major query language.
  • Couchbase: Full-stack NoSQL DB, which can support offline sync and offers full CRUD and query features. It can run on local mobile devices.
  • ArangoDB: Another NoSQL, open-source DB, which features a multi-model, graph, geo-algorithms features.

The selection of the right database for your mobile application is a real challenge. In real-time app development scenarios, developers tend to face many more challenges based on the specific project they handle. If you find it troublesome to choose an appropriate database and establish it well, it is advisable to assist consulting services like RemoteDBA for end-to-end database administration services.

Some important criteria for the selection of a good mobile app database

Identify the structure of your enterprise data

The structure of your data focuses on how you may want to store and retrieve your data. The mobile applications may deal with data in various formats. Offline apps may store all data on the mobile devices itself, whereas the online apps are kept connected to a server where all the data is stored. For example, the e-com apps are of the online category. Apart from offline and online, there is also a third category of apps known as synchronized apps. These apps offer data on mobile devices that can be used offline, but the stored data is shared with the server and updates the database as the mobile device gets connected to the internet.

Size of your data

Along with structure, next, the size of your data is also important, which refers to the overall quantity of data that you have to store. This data amount may vary based on the combination of data structure you select and the database’s ability to differentiate the data across various servers and file systems. Here, the need is to choose a database by considering the overall data volume generated by the application at any given time and the data size to retrieved from the DB.

Scale and speed of the database

Database speed and scale address the time take to perform the reads and write on the database.  Some DBs need to function by optimizing the read operations and some others vice versa. So, the database also is meant to optimize any of these as read-oriented or write-oriented. So, selecting an appropriate DB can effectively handle the I/O needs of your app, and the right choice can go a long way in terms of a scalable DB architecture. As we can see, MongoDB is much faster than MySQL in case of handing a huge volume of unstructured data. Whereas MySQL will be quicker at processing structured data.  

Data modeling

Before choosing any database, it is also advisable to perform proper data modeling. Data modeling is a true representation of the data structure you prepare for storage and can also express your exact business requirements. Data modeling is also helpful if your application contains features like reporting, search queries, location-based services, etc.

Sometimes, you may also require many databases for managing different data types. Say, for example, Uber is using MySQL and MongoDB, and other databases too to cater to their different needs. Uber uses MySQL for the business logic and MongoDB for its CDN. So, make a choice wisely based on your needs.