Commercial databases allow their owners to store troves of information safely and call on any byte at a moment's notice. As businesses continue to develop digitally, collect useful data from their customer bases and store at an ever-increasing volume, the infrastructure implemented will be put through the wringer. What database "best practices" can give businesses the leg up to deal with this data deluge?

Encryption versus authentication
Decoder rings, biometric scanners and self-destructing messages might be the stuff of spy movies, but encryption and authentication – these devices' core tenets – play integral roles in commercial databases as they would in summer box office blockbusters. However, these principles, while similar, aren't interchangeable.

With the right database management in place, any business can keep their data 'top secret.'With the right database management in place, any business can keep their data 'top secret.'

According to software developer and security experts Paragon Initiative Enterprises, encryption and authentication have two very different meanings, but when dealing in data transferral, both have their individual irreplaceable advantages. Data encryption adds an extra layer of security to the information running through a business's networks or stored in its servers. Any errant onlookers or hackers trying to peruse sensitive information they do not have clearance for will not be able to decipher it, not unless they possess a corresponding key. Authentication, on the other hand, ensures the data under ownership is, in fact, what it purports to be. This prevents tampering and provides commercial interests with an added level of transparency as to where the data originated. Moreover, identity authentication beefs up password protection by employing a computer's wherewithal when proving users are who they say they are.

Databases managing company files and customer information should not rely on one or the other, but rather employ security strategies incorporating the benefits of both.

"Disconnecting extraneous servers saves money and streamlines databases."

Data creation versus consolidation
Whether businesses outsource their data storage or maintain their own servers in-house, programs to up database efficiency can have untold impacts on everything from system processes to operating costs. By taking a closer look at incoming information, where it's placed and how it's groomed over time, businesses improve their chances of maximizing performance while trimming the fat around expensive issues facing the commercial sector today, namely energy.

TechRepublic recently reported U.S. data centers, both on-site and third-party, account for using anywhere between 2 and 5 percent of all nationally generated electricity. Businesses should be sure to manage hardware purchases according to a rough estimate of data collected per user and created per employee. Disconnecting extraneous servers saves money and streamlines databases to their bare essentials.

To hone databases further, business owners should consider virtualized environments for the servers they do plan on keeping. If their IT departments can create the right platform, these structures can duplicate storage capabilities – along with other physical properties – in a digital environment, which enhances provisioning and improves continuity.

IT and tech industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, a nationwide provider of commercial lending solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Marlin's equipment financing and loan products are offered directly to businesses, and through third party vendor programs, which include manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.