First off and most important learn and understand the business domain.
1) Are you looking at a high transaction rate like a busy web site, or low use like a a small company HR system
2) Is security a big issue - are you handling personal details, or financial data. Or is it just a product catalogue
3) Will your users be doing many updates/inserts or is it mainly read only
4) How many users, what are the usage patterns (peak load or evenly distributed)
5) Do you need 24x7, 16x5 or other uptime, 24x7 is much harder to do as you have no down time for maintenance
6) How big is the DB going to go? If it's really big you'll have to design your tables to take account of that and/or partition
7) Do you need to look at enterprise cluster with hot fail over, or just normal hosting
8) How will the DB be adminstered, in most DB projects 95% of the effort is spent developing for the users and their applications, DB admin is forgotten
9) DB Admin, from previous includes backups, changes to other systems, integration to other systems, data loading
10) Actually Data loading and using existing data is another big issue in its own right.
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