Top Open Source Database Applications That You Can Use in Your Next Project

Updated on February 28, 2022
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Over the years, the open-source community has come up with many database applications. The huge list of databases is sometimes overwhelming and making a choice for your next data-driven application can be confusing.

A while ago, compatibility was the main key when choosing the right database solution for a project. For instance, WordPress would always work with a MariaDB or a MySQL server. However, in the modern-day, innovations from talented developers have added many factors to the equation.

Today, you would consider security, reliability, scalability, reporting, support, ease of integration, hosting costs, suitability, and maintainability before committing yourself to a database system. This tutorial walks you through the top open-source database management systems that you can use in your next project together with their functionalities and use cases.

Relational Database Management Systems

Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) is the main popular category of database solutions. In this model, your application stores data in row-based table structures which can be queried using the Structured Query Language (SQL). RDBMS applications come with different functionalities that address the consistency, integrity, and accuracy of your data.

Here are the main SQL-based databases that you can use in your project.

MySQL Database Server

MySQL is one of the best databases when it comes to deploying cloud-native applications and is the most preferred for Content Management Systems (CMSs). It integrates very well with other open-source applications like WordPress, OpenCart, Drupal, Magento, Joomla, and more.

MySQL ships with a wide variety of security features including TLS, data encryption, password policies, and role-based permissions. When it comes to scalability, you can use MySQL group replication feature across a pool of servers to implement horizontal scaling.

MySQL also supports transactions and is a good choice for mission-critical applications that require database consistency. For example, electronic payment solutions. Most popular companies that use MySQL in some of their tech stacks include Uber, Amazon, Twitter, Pinterest, and more.

Benefits of Using MySQL Server

  • Easy to integrate with popular programming languages like PHP, Golang, Node.js, and more.
  • Supports the popular SQL language.
  • Highly secure.
  • Supports transactions.
  • Supports window functions when performing row-based calculations.
  • Has huge online documentation for learning purposes.
  • Low cost of ownership.

Possible MySQL Use-cases

  • Personal blogs.
  • Content Management Systems.
  • E-commerce websites.
  • Company portals.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning(ERP) applications.

Follow the guide below to install MySQL on your Linux server.

MariaDB Database Server

MariaDB is a fork of MySQL and was coded by the original MySQL developers to offer high-performance, stability, and openness. MariaDB features tight security measures including Pluggable Authentication Module (PAM), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), internal security/password checks, and more. Some CMSs that support MySQL like WordPress might also work pretty well with a MariaDB installation.

In addition, the MariaDB server supports modern and better storage engines like Cassandra. The latter allows you to run both SQL and NoSQL functions in a single database server. Some of the most remarkable customers of MariaDB include Samsung, Auto Europe, CCV, and Nokia.

Benefits of Using MariaDB Server

  • Support for read scaling and high-speed multi-master replications.
  • A cost-effective database solution.
  • Supports streamlined data import connectors for Kafka, Spark, Python, Java, and C.
  • Supports the SQL standard.

Possible MariaDB Use-cases

  • Building CMSs like a cloud-based point of sale terminals.
  • Creating dynamic corporate websites.
  • Managing user accounts and authentications.
  • Building financial applications.
  • Creating health-based systems.

Install MariaDB on your server by following the link below.

PostgreSQL Database Server

PostgreSQL is one of the most advanced database solutions and is a top choice for developers when it comes to Ruby, Python, and Golang projects. PostgreSQL supports advanced data types including arrays, JSON, hstore, and special types such as geometric data and network addresses. PostgreSQL is highly-scalable and you can use it to set up a master/replica cluster for mission-critical applications.

Other notable PostgreSQL features include role-based permissions, sophisticated locking mechanisms, foreign keys, multi-column indexing, transactions, stored procedures, and more. Major customers of the PostgreSQL database server include Apple, IMDB, Instagram, Reddit, Skype, and Spotify.

Benefits of Using PostgreSQL Server

  • SQL support.
  • Advanced and custom-defined data types.
  • On-demand scalability and disaster recovery features.
  • Robust access control including role-based permissions, LDAP, and Generic Security Service Application Program Interface (GSSAPI).

Possible PostgreSQL Use-cases

  • Managing user data in ERP applications.
  • Storing chats and calls data in telecommunication applications.
  • Running products and customers' data in e-commerce applications.
  • Managing government and business intelligence data.

Follow the guide below to install the PostgreSQL database on your Linux server.

NoSQL Database Management Systems

NoSQL is an acronym for not only SQL. It is a database architecture that uses non-tabular data structures to store information. Most NoSQL applications implement key-value stores, documents, wide columns, or graphs to store data. The emergence of NoSQL databases has provided developers with flexible schemas that can handle a large amount of data without scalability issues.

Here are the most common NoSQL databases that you can use in your next project.

Redis Database Server

Redis is an in-memory database that implements the key-value model to store data. It is fast, reliable, and secure. Since Redis stores data in your computer's RAM, it outperforms all SQL-based databases when it comes to special functionalities like caching. Its flexible data structures, simple command protocol, and replication capabilities make it an ideal choice for modern applications. Well-known companies that use Redis include Twitter, Flickr, GitHub, Craigslist, and more.

Benefits of Using Redis Server

  • Very fast. Redis can perform several hundred thousand write/read requests per second.
  • The Redis API library supports major programming languages including PHP, Golang, Java, Python, and more. This makes integration easier.
  • Redis supports low latency high-performance replication allowing you to scale your application horizontally across multiple servers.
  • In special circumstances, you can configure Redis to persist data to disk to avoid data loss when you restart the server.

Possible Redis Use-cases

  • Caching products data or frequently used information in an e-commerce website.
  • Storing session data for authentication purposes.
  • Creating leaderboards for fitness and gaming applications.
  • Creating publisher/subscriber apps to decouple the frontend and backend of mission-critical applications.

Click the link below to install Redis on your server.

MongoDB Database Server

MongoDB uses the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format to store data. Each record in the MongoDB database is known as a document. A document may comprise one or several key-value pairs that allow you to create a flexible document schema for storing strings, numbers, objects, and arrays. MongoDB comes with powerful query and analytics tools for generating reports from huge databases. Some companies that implement MongoDB include Forbes, Toyota, Sanoma, Vivint, and more.

Benefits of MongoDB Server

  • On-demand sharding while handling large data sets.
  • Flexible document schema for storing non-structured data.
  • High-performance and availability. MongoDB is faster than most relational databases.
  • Simple query syntax that is easier to grasp than SQL.

Possible MongoDB Use-cases

  • Building tax and advisory services applications.
  • Handling smart factory data.
  • Storing online learning platform data.
  • Running banks trading platforms.
  • Creating insurance comparison applications.
  • Building customer intelligence applications.
  • Running Scientific experiments.

Install the MongoDB application by following the link below.

InfluxDB Database Server

InfluxDB is a time-series database application for developing apps in the IoT industry. It comes with an inbuilt HTTP API allowing you to store and query data from the database with less code. Since it uses a simple indexing model, InfluxDB can handle huge database writes making it the best choice for time-series applications. Some of the companies that use InfluxDB include Capital One, Texas Instruments, Adobe, MediaLink, and more.

Benefits of InfluxDB Server

  • Unified API support for handling data ingestion, querying, storage, and visualization.
  • Scalability. InfluxDB can handle a high number of writes per second without scalability issues.
  • Real-time analysis of data to identify patterns/trends and predict future outcomes.

Possible InfluxDB Use-cases

  • Storing IoT applications data for smartwatches, car tracking devices, intelligent energy meters, and more.
  • Powering on-demand financial services like analyzing market trends for different currencies.
  • Monitoring scientific instruments to predict trends, improve efficiencies, and drive future discoveries.

Follow the guide below to install InfluxDB on your server.


This guide has taken you through the different open-source database management systems that you can use in your next big project. The tutorial has focused on both the SQL and NoSQL databases to give you a better insight on the best database that you can use depending on your special use case. For complex applications, you may use a combination of two database systems to form a hybrid system. For instance, in an e-commerce platform, you can use Redis for authentication and MySQL to store products and customers' data.