Introduction to Database Servers

This article focuses on the basics of database servers (nature, use and hosting). If you plan to host a Web site or a database, see our Database Server Hardware and Architectures Guide .

Computer Network with server on white background. Computer generated image.

What is a database server?

A database server is used to store, retrieve, and manage data in a database. It also allows you to manage the update of the data. It provides simultaneous access to this database to multiple Web servers and users. Finally, it ensures data security and integrity. And when we talk about data, we can hear millions of elements simultaneously accessible to thousands of users.

In addition to these core functions, the database server software provides tools that facilitate and accelerate database administration, such as exporting data, configuring user access, and saving data.

How are databases used?

Databases are used for a variety of purposes: document management, file management, search engine indexing, use of email servers, and dynamic web page content. A person, application, or web page script can query the database using SQL.


In site hosting, database servers are used to insert content into dynamic web pages. Puppet is used to define the infrastructure of executing tasks on the server. Puppet Online Training can help you to understand the whole features and use of Puppet.  Dynamic pages are based on standard layouts that fill information based on the URL of the page or other variables such as user credentials or actions performed on the page. Here are some examples of dynamic page elements associated with databases:

  • Content of blog post or blog category page;
  • Classified ads in journalistic or job search sites;
  • Information contained in directories or web maps;
  • Content of your Facebook news feed;
  • Search results on Google or other types of searches;
  • Manageable website sections;
  • Product lists and order process details on an e-commerce site;
  • Account details and settings when connecting to a website.

Which are the most popular database servers?

The five most popular enterprise database servers are:

  1. Oracle
    2.SQL Server
    3. DB2
    4. Sybase
    5. MySQL

MySQL is the most popular database in web hosting. This is a powerful option, while being free (open source), designed to work with the very popular PHP programming language. Microsoft SQL Server is the preferred choice for websites and businesses, among others, because of its easy integration with other Microsoft services. Hadoop is a framework which is used for distributed storage and processing of bulk data. It is open source framework.

Size a server for your database

Several factors should guide your server choice, including the size of the database, as well as the nature and frequency of requests to be processed. There are no rules cast in concrete regarding the dimensioning of a server for a database. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Analyze and measure the performance of your database server to make informed decisions in light of processing and storage capacity requirements.
  • When calculating storage space, you should consider that your databases will increase in volume over time.
  • Keep your indexes in RAM to avoid paging (keep on your database server an available RAM space higher than the size of the index, so only one query is needed).
  • Make sure your operating system includes the RAM space you need (32-bit or 64-bit).
  • If you find that the critical CPU usage threshold has been reached or if there are CPU-waiting jobs, consider adding additional CPUs or faster CPUs.
  • Use RAID technology to improve the reliability and performance of your server.
  • Evaluate the price of bandwidth by consider intermingled traffic hosting as an option.

Our database server hardware guide gives you all the details that will guide your choices, including the list of dedicated servers we currently offer.

Advanced Accommodation

A cluster of servers can be a solution: a) when downtime is not an option; B) when many Web servers need to access a single database; C) when your application or website needs to handle high traffic levels (to name just a few scenarios).

By deploying a server entirely dedicated to your database (rather than hosting this database and the Web site on the same hardware), you increase the resources available per server, and it becomes easier to manage each Measure their performance and resize them. You become fully aware of the use of resources, and you control it. And tasks such as migrating your database, configuring your server, or adding additional resources to your databases can be done separately from your other services, simplifying and speeding up the process.

You can even go deeper and deploy dedicated, active and passive database servers with replication and failover capabilities. This protects you against downtime caused by software or hardware failure. And by operating a SAN storage network, you can share harmonized data across multiple database servers, websites, or users.