From time to time all throughout my professional activity I run into people who totally mess up web database terminology. One of the most glaring examples is confusing terms 'Online custom database' and 'Custom-developed database'. They are frequently labeled as synonyms that basically indicate the same thing.
Though, for outsiders, these terms may really sound pretty much similar to each other, as a matter of fact, they represent two diametrically opposite approaches to a custom database development.
The first one is applied when the matter concerns a hosted customizable database software, which can be modified by the USER at any moment. On the other hand, when a custom-developed database is the subject, it is usually said about the software that was built according to a client's specific requests but is supported and can be modified only by the VENDOR.
For better clarity in understanding the difference, here is the table comparing these two custom database solutions.
Custom Database Solutions
Online Custom Database
Custom Developed Database
Start is fast. You can create a database from a scratch or just upload your existing spreadsheet. Moreover, professional support as IT consultants for new users is provided by most vendors. Some of them can even create a database for you for free.
Traditional approach when the client is separated from developers by formal methods of development is applied. Every modification of original design has to be discussed and approved. Thus, you have to wait until a vendor presents a ready product.
You only use functionality necessary for the present moment. But at any moment you can modify the software in a real time, adding functions you need or removing the ones you don't require anymore.
The developer implements customers business processes according to your requirements. But any workflow change takes time to carry out, and the database may be not available during the upgrade.
The majority of hosted custom database providers have pretty straightforward pricing policy and don't charge extra for changes made within packages. That means you control all development costs.
The initial cost is usually higher, and additional expenses can happen when your requirements change.
Vendors use standard intuitive elements to build your application’s interface. At the same time, they can be fine-tuned to satisfy a particular operator – by operator himself or by the vendor.
The interface is developed according to your given specifications.
Business process changes
In case your business process changes, you can easily adapt your database software to precisely fit your modified needs. Or you can address support for assistance, that is usually delivered in 24-48 hours.
To change workflow process, you must make a request to the developer and wait till it's applied. Changing process can last from couple days to several weeks or even months, depending on complexity.
System usage and support
Due to a high competition and client's ability to change vendors in no time, providers value their customers more. Because great help service makes more clients, support teams try to take care of all problems ASAP.
The customer depends on the developer greatly, because it's the vendor who holds the keys of your software. The developer resolves problems according to the type of support agreement. Extended support costs more.
Which Custom Database Software Do You Need?
Summing it up, I can say that customizable online database will fit your needs the best when you run unique business with ever-evolving workflow processes in agile markets and know that you're going to expand and scale your business periodically. In my honest opinion,
On the other hand, you should better use the custom-developed database when you know for sure that one ready-made database solution fits your needs right from the box. Then it will serve you for years without the need for major changes.
Personally, I prefer online database - it’s more flexible. If you decide to go with online database, I suggest you choose one of the following: QuickBase, TeamDesk, Caspio, or Zoho.At the same time, as you can see, both solutions offer building custom database software tailored to your needs. But the devil is in the detail. So, know the difference – the right choice can save you lots of nerves and energy that you need to run your business.