We often hear questions about database types and what the differences are. There are two main ways you will see your data presented:
Let me give you a way to think of the difference between a multi- and single- database system:
You walk in and sit down at a bar; you order your favorite drink - a martini. The bartender puts two glasses in front of you – one with dry gin and one with sweet vermouth – then hands you two straws and says “Enjoy!” While the concoction ends up the same, the experience of your favorite drink is vastly different than what you normally experience with a bartender mixing your drink!
These applications often start off as a single function database – like a payroll system. Then over time, other pieces are ‘added on’ through bolt-ons, acquisitions, and partner products. What you end up with is a system is cobbled together through various combinations to be a ‘product.’ What you can’t often see is that this approach requires complex integrations – that are only visible behind the scenes – that increase the risk of errors. Your users often experience an inconsistent ‘look’ as they move from one module to another.
Some things to remember with a multi-database system. First, maintenance and upkeep are constant and expensive. When it’s time for an upgrade, it takes longer since you have more than one application to update which usually also means it costs more to complete. The upgrade outage times are longer because each component must be upgraded and brought back online and the integrations tested.
Second, obtaining real-time information is difficult. Usually, data is not real-time and updated through integrations ran in nightly batch processes. Running them at night keeps from interrupting the users during the day and allow backups of the data before the integrations run. Another issue is when you need a report that pulls data from two databases it can be tricky to link the data.
You will hear the terms “Integrated” or “Synchronized,” and it can be difficult to tell if someone is talking about a multi-database or single-database structure. With a multi-database system, the data is integrated only to the extent the provider has built the integrated data connection between the databases. Usually, this means only a portion of the data is exchanged between the various databases. You will need to keep in mind that Integrated and Synchronized does not mean it is “fully integrated” nor does it mean the system can handle dynamic reporting or sharing of data.
Single Database Architecture.
Usually these systems have a single database that house all the various modules and utilize the same core information. These are usually newer applications that have been built from the ground up.
What are some of the benefits of a single database system, first, there is One Truth with a single database system. With multi-database systems, you can have different versions of the same data, and it is difficult to find the One Truth. Because you have one database, this gives you a holistic view of your employee from pre-hire to retire - including everything from recruiting, onboarding, performance management, compensation planning, time & attendance, scheduling, payroll, and more.
Because there is only one employee record, you only enter data once - which means no duplicate data entry. Now once you enter something, it stays with that employee throughout their lifecycle.
A single database allows an application to have a consistent look and feel throughout since it is one unified platform - making it easier for end user navigation and training.
You will reduce bad data and data redundancy because there is a single point of entry. Making it easier to keep data accurate, clean, and up to date - leading to improved ease of reporting since data is consistent
Because the data is all in one database, you don't have to integrate applications with each other for core functions. There will still be the need to integrate with accounting for payroll journal entries or project accounting. As I mentioned earlier, we see single database architecture in more recently built applications that utilize newer technology and they include APIs or commonly known as Application Program Interfaces. With APIs, you can connect your databases more fully and easier than ever before.
Having all your data in one database allow you to set rules on data entry that can help ensure the data is entered the first time correctly.
You will improve your data security since it is all together in one database instead of having to protect multiple databases you only have one to focus on.
You will save time and money with reduced maintenance costs since you only have one database. Now each department does not have to keep their own data in separate repositories or Excel.
Now you know some differences between single and multi-database architecture and why a shaken martini is better than one with each component served separately. CS3 has applications that utilize a single database architecture - both Scissortail HCM and Acumatica ERP. Spend less time with double-entry. Contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure and give us a ‘like’ and hit the subscribe button for more tips like this!