Recently, I was asked what is the most cost-efficient way to provide multi-year data storage and be able to access it for creating reports. Four questions come to mind which need to be answered before providing a database recommendation.
1: Will the data need to be accessed by users in various sites across the district, rather than one person at a central site?
2: How many users do you anticipate connecting to or viewing the data?
3: Do you want a unified system which would be a database AND a way to report the data? Or do you want separate database storage and a separate reporting tool?
4: what is your budget?
Option 1 – Single user, no budget then MS ACCESS will do the job.
Option 2 – Multiple users, low budget: then a self-hosted database such as MS SQL, MySQL, or Oracle XE Express. There are free tools which can be used “read-only” to query the data and make basic reports
Option 3 – Multiple users, low budget (Less than $10,000 and no per-user fee), cloud-hosted and a query/reporting tool. My choice would be a host Oracle database with Application Express for query and reporting. Unlimited users can be added AT NO ADDITIONAL COST. Users can have various roles and permissions to view and manipulate data.
Option 4 – Multiple users, high budget (over $30,000 and per-user fees), cloud-hosted and a separate reporting tool, which has the per-user fee, I would recommend a hosted database and an add-on reporting tool. For example, a hosted database may cost $1,500 per year and then a user fee might be $10-$20 per user PER MONTH. So for 250 viewers (teachers) the cost at $10/month would be over $30,000 per year.
I recommend option 3, which is what Data Smart LLC provides to school districts. Data Smart LLC does all of the database management, data uploads, report tweaking, and analysis reports as part of its single fee.