Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Extranet - Selecting a database package to build your system

Building a legal extranet system - selecting technology?

One of the first considerations is probably which database platform to use. Hopefully those of you who have read this blog for a while can immediately rule out proprietary flatfile databases, leaving choices such as Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, and other open source options.

I, personally, like open source options but would be fearful of using them for legal applications. Law firms and their clients want bulletproof solutions and, for those reasons, I would recommend selecting a commercially available database package.

I think any of the three listed about could be good choices. DB2 is probably a bit too robust (and, this, not cost effective) for this type of relatively simple collaboration applications. Others may have different opinions, that is just mine, that this database is best used for very high volume, heavy transactional databases -- and that it does a wonderful job in those areas.

SQL Server is certainly a strong choice. Of course, one would probably program using ActiveServerPages (ASP) on top of that. Integration with Internet Explorer is obviously excellent. If you have concerns about IE from a security perspective (or if your clients do), I'd be careful in unit and system testing my functionality against other browsers (more notably, Firefox) before deploying a system using these technologies. But, generally speaking, this certainly is a strong set of technologies to consider using.

The Oracle database is also a strong choice. One could use a number of technologies to program against this (Java, PL/SQL to name a few). I think it is fair to say that, since databases are Oracle's core competency, it is probably a slightly stronger, scalable and bulletproof database package. That, however, is only an opinion and certainly others are entitled to their own opinions. But, whatever yours, it is clear that Oracle is also a very viable choice for a database engine for your legal extranet system.

Finally, although it is not the topic of this post, this database decision should made in conjunction with your operating system and hardware decisions. For example, if one really wants to run their system using UNIX, the complexities and costs of SQL Server vs. Oracle are very different than those running a Windows on LINUX platform. I have worked in all three platforms, but since operating systems are not my core competency I will refrain from making comments on the pros/cons of each within this blog. It is however safe to say that one certainly must factor this element into one's technology decision making.