Can SharePoint Be Used as a Database?
21 September 2023
SharePoint is often used for data storage and validation, and it does share some similarities with databases. This has led some users to question whether SharePoint can also function as a database.
Microsoft SharePoint is a highly versatile platform designed to facilitate secure information storage, organization, sharing, and access across devices, as stated by Microsoft. It can be utilized as both an on-premises application and an online service, and it can be extended with a SharePoint server for added functionalities. Furthermore, SharePoint seamlessly integrates with various related programs.
SharePoint offers a wide array of advantages, making it a versatile and user-friendly platform for various purposes. It excels in customizable features, strong document management, and collaborative tools. SharePoint also facilitates the consolidation of workspaces, seamless integration with other applications, robust security features, and an intuitive interface.
Its design assistance, content management capabilities, and support for streamlining business processes further enhance its utility. However, while SharePoint can store and validate data with database-like features, it may not be the optimal choice as an exclusive database solution.
While it is technically possible to create a SharePoint content database, it falls short in supporting all common database functions. As a result, relying solely on SharePoint as a database solution may not be the best choice. It’s essential to consider its limitations and explore other database options and alternatives to address specific data management needs effectively.
Why is SharePoint no good as a database?
SharePoint cannot provide the same level of functionality as a traditional database. In particular, SharePoint lacks several fundamental database features essential for collecting, storing, retrieving, sorting, graphing, and manipulating data in diverse ways. Here are a few examples:
- Data Structure: SharePoint primarily relies on lists and libraries to organize data, which may not offer the same structured data storage as a traditional database with defined tables and relationships.
- Complex Queries: SharePoint’s querying capabilities are limited compared to a database. It may struggle with complex queries involving multiple joins, aggregations, and calculations.
- Scalability: Databases are designed for handling large datasets and complex transactions. SharePoint may not perform as efficiently when dealing with extensive and intricate data requirements.
- Data Integrity: SharePoint doesn’t enforce referential integrity constraints, which are crucial for maintaining data accuracy and consistency in relational databases.
- Advanced Reporting: While SharePoint supports basic reporting, it may lack the advanced reporting and data visualization capabilities found in database systems.
- Customization: Databases offer more extensive options for customization and data manipulation through SQL queries and stored procedures, whereas SharePoint customization is limited to its built-in features and workflows.
- Data Security: SharePoint provides security features, but databases often offer more granular control over access permissions, encryption, and auditing.
- Performance: For high-volume, data-intensive applications, databases are generally better suited due to their optimized performance and indexing mechanisms.
- Data Types: SharePoint may not support as wide a range of data types as databases, which can hinder the representation of diverse data.
- Transaction Support: Databases are designed to handle transactions, ensuring data consistency in multi-user environments. SharePoint may not provide the same level of transaction support.
Why Use SharePoint as a Database?
SharePoint might catch the eye of certain users as a compelling choice for a database solution, and here are the reasons why:
- At first glance, SharePoint lists appear similar to database tables, featuring columns with various data types.
- You do not require DBA privileges to create a new schema.
- It offers a versatile interface that is readily available for efficient data management.
- You can transfer data without the necessity for synchronization.
- You don’t have to synchronize SharePoint apps with data stored in other locations.
Although these reasons may appear logical at first glance, they tend to discourage users from considering more suitable database options that would, in nearly all instances, outperform the choices for any process demanding genuine database functionality.
Consider a similar Microsoft platform for database creation.
While SharePoint does rely on a database management system and shares some functionalities, it’s essential to clarify that SharePoint itself isn’t a standalone database. If your requirement is primarily structured and secure storage for a moderate volume of documents, SharePoint can adequately fulfill your needs. However, for a comprehensive database solution capable of handling millions of diverse files and intricate relationships between data points, SharePoint may not be the most suitable choice.
In such scenarios, Star Knowledge as a Gold Partner recommends exploring Microsoft Power Apps. This suite of low-code development tools seamlessly integrates with SharePoint, Office 365, Microsoft Flow, and other Microsoft software. Not only can Power Apps be used to create a wide range of solutions, including automated workflows and portals, but it also empowers both citizen and professional developers to swiftly build robust, database-centric software. Furthermore, thanks to its integration with SharePoint, you can effortlessly generate database applications directly from SharePoint lists.
While SharePoint offers a plethora of benefits, it is not a suitable replacement for a traditional database. It lacks several fundamental database features, such as complex querying, scalability, data integrity, advanced reporting, customization, data security, performance, and data types.
If you need a database solution, consider other options, such as Power Apps, MS SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, IBM DB2, Cassandra, or MariaDB. These databases offer more robust functionality and performance for handling complex data requirements.
Contact us today to learn more about our database solutions and how we can help you choose the right database for your specific needs. We offer a wide range of database services, including database design, development, implementation, and support. We can also help you migrate your data from SharePoint to a more suitable database solution.