Computer-assisted reporting whiz Matt Wynn from the Arizona Republic has published an awesome list of eight ways to get interactive data on your site.
Matt has essentially reviewed various vendors that offer embeddable databases (such as Caspio and Zoho), as well as gone over some of the more hands-on options, such as directly using programming languages and their frameworks.
I’ll add my two cents to Matt’s post: One of the best way to truly grow your site and do innovative (and revenue-gaining) work is to hire some smart, dedicated developers for your site. Vendors, though useful for certain projects, are only going to get your site so far. Give those developers the tools they need: time, training, exposure to different departments, cover fire and a reliable server with which to work that isn’t under choking restrictions. Then, you’ll be cooking with gas.