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Database | What Is It? Its Work, Examples & Management

Now and then, nearly every e-commerce website uses some form of Database to store their products inventory or even their customer’s information. So, such eCommerce websites make use of a tool known as Database Management System (or DBMS) from time to time.

Such DBMS include Microsoft Access, FileMaker Pro, or MySQL as the “back end” to the website. Thus, by storing website data in a database, the data can be easily searched, sorted, or equally updated. This flexibility is important for e-commerce sites and other types of dynamic websites.

How Database Management Works

Basically, if you’ve been following banking, investing, or Cryptocurrency over the last ten years, you may have heard about the term “Blockchain.” This is the same record-keeping technology behind the Bitcoin network. With its key tools being database sets.

What Is Database?

A Database is an organized collection of data, generally stored and accessed electronically from a computer system. Where databases are more complex they are often developed using formal design and modeling techniques. Technically, it’s a data structure that stores organized information.

Most databases contain multiple tables, which may each include several different fields. For example, a company database may include tables for products, employees, and financial records. Each of these tables would have different fields that are relevant to the information stored in the table.

Early Databases were relatively “flat!” Meaning, they were limited to simple rows and columns, like a spreadsheet. (See also, in this article,  about “flat-file Database” in detail). However, today’s relational databases allow users to access, update, and search information so easily. Based on the relationship of data stored in different tables.

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Relational Databases can also run queries that involve multiple databases. The earlier ones could only store text or numeric data. But with time, modernization in them also lets users store other data types too. Such as sound clips, pictures, and videos. So, Why use a DBMS?

When a database holds details about people, it’s likely to include their first name, surname, and their date of birth. In addition to this, specialist information is stored depending on the database’s intended use. So, in nutshell, it’s very important to know when to use a database and be aware of its advantages.

Some usage reasons include:
  • It is very quick and easy to find information.
  • It’s easy to add new data and to edit or delete old data.
  • Allows data to be searched easily, eg ‘find all product users’.
  • They can store very large numbers of records efficiently (they take up little space).
  • Data can be imported into other applications, for example, a mail-merge letter to a customer.
  • More than one person can access the same fields at the same time – multi-access.
  • Likewise, data can be sorted easily, for example into ‘date first priority’ order.
  • Overall, digital content security may be better than in paper files.
Businesses need it to:
  • Automate key processes,
  • Store data of distinct types,
  • Run their business operations well,
  • Organize and track their customers, inventory, and employees,
  • Keep up with “paperless” consumer demands,
  • Ensure adequate query performance, etc.
Reasons why Organizations use it:
  • the police have details of all known criminals in a database, eg crimes they’ve committed,
  • schools use it to store details about their pupils, eg how many days they’ve been off sick,
  • a hospital will store details of all its patients in a database, eg a history of their health issues,
  • the Government uses a database to store records of people’s income tax payments,
  • it’s used to keep track of all the drivers in town who have (or haven’t) paid Congestion Charges.

In the case of Congestion Charging, if someone hasn’t paid the congestion charge, a fine will be issued. And as such, the database would play an integral part in automating the process. Information stored in the others listed could also be used in similar ways.

The Common Types of Data

Simply put, a database is a way of storing information in an organized, logical way. All Databases are highly dependant upon the usage requirements. And as I  mentioned, a data type is any type of relational data set.

Of course, that is rather a circular definition, and also not very helpful. Therefore, a better definition of data types is a data storage format that can contain a specific type or range of values. When computer programs store data in variables, each variable must be assigned a specific data type.

Some common data types include integers, floating-point numbers, characters, strings, and arrays. They may also be more specific types, such as dates, timestamps, boolean values, and varchar (variable character) formats.

In the market include:−

On the upper side, Database Software is designed to create databases and to store, manage, change, search, and extract the information contained within them.

Sometimes, a comprehensive database software program is also a database management system. Mainly, database software exists to protect the information in the database and ensure that it’s both accurate and consistent.

Some software functions include:
  • Storage
  • Communication
  • Backup and recovery
  • Presentation and reporting
  • Multi-user access control
  • Security management, etc.

Generally, such types of software are classified into six sub-types.

The six sub-types include:
  • analytical database software,
  • data warehouse database software,
  • distributed database software,
  • end-user database software,
  • external database software, and
  • operational database software.

To interact with a database, a DBMS package generally uses SQL queries. It receives a command from a database administrator (DBA) and prompts the system to perform the necessary action.

These instructions can be about loading, retrieving, or modifying existing data in the system (learn more). Additionally, from this article, you’ll also read and learn more about what a relational database is in detail.

What Is Database Management?

When we talk of Database Management, it allows a person to organize, store and retrieve data from a computer. In a real sense, Database Management can also be described as the data storage, operations, and security practices of a Database Administrator (DBA). More so, throughout the life cycle of the data.

Uniquely, the administrator uses software to store and organize data, such as financial information and customer shipping records. They make sure that data is available to users and is secure from unauthorized access. Oftentimes, the administrators can equally plan security measures.

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While also, making sure that data is secure from unauthorized access. Many databases contain personal or financial information, making security important. The administrators are responsible for backing up systems in case of a power outage or other disaster.

They also ensure the integrity of the database, guaranteeing that the data stored in it comes from reliable sources. DBAs must be able to monitor a database system’s performance to determine any actions needed. They must be able to evaluate complex information that comes from a variety of sources.

Other Definitions of DBMS Include:
  • First, as a “product used for storage and organization of data that typically has defined formats and structures”. And as also categorized by their basic structures, to some extent, by their use or deployment.” (Gartner)
  • Secondly, as “administration tasks pertaining to managing records, storage space and backups.” (Microsoft Technet)
  • Then again, as “a computerized data-keeping system. Users of the system are given facilities to perform several kinds of operations on such a system for either manipulation of the data in the database or the management of the database structure itself.” (IBM)
  • Also, it’s defined as “different data models currently used to structure the logical view of the database: relational, hierarchical and network.” (Department of Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • It can also be “processes around sharing, storing, protecting and retrieving an ever-increasing amount of data.” (AICPA)
  • Lastly, as “the monitoring, administration, and maintenance of databases and database groups across an enterprise.” (Oracle)

Forthwith, management involves designing, implementing, and supporting stored data, to maximize its value. When problems with a database arise, administrators must be able to diagnose and correct them.

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Some Programming Languages require the programmer to define the data type of a variable before assigning it a value. For your information, according to the DAMA DMBOK, the management systems are of various types.

Such DBMS Include:
  • Centralized: all the data lives in one system in one place. All users come to that one system to access the data.
  • Distributed: Data resides over a variety of nodes, making quick access possible.
  • Blockchain: A type of federated database system used to securely manage financial and other types of transactions.
  • Federated: Provisions data without additional persistence or duplication of source data. It maps multiple autonomous databases into one large object. This kind of Database Architecture is best for heterogeneous and distributed integration projects.

Also divided into:

    • Loosely Coupled: Component Databases construct their own federated schema. Typically, requiring access of other component systems through a multi-database language.
    • Tightly Coupled: Component systems use independent processes to construct and publish into an integrated federal schema.

Most Programming Languages allow each variable to store a single data type. Equally important, Data Types are also used by Database Applications (learn more). Whereas, the fields within a database often require a specific type of data to be input.

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For example, a company’s record for an employee may use a string data type for the employee’s first and last name. The employee’s date of hire would be stored in a date format, while his or her salary may be stored as an integer.

By keeping the data types uniform across multiple records, such applications can easily search, sort, and compare fields in different records.

What does a Database Administrator do?

Perse, there’s a reason as to why you may want to consider a career as a database administrator! Notably, a Database Administrator uses software to store and organize data. Such as financial information and customer shipping records.

These admins make sure that data is available to users and that it is also secure from unauthorized access. Whereby, they can work in many different types of industries. Including computer systems design and related service firms, insurance companies, banks, hospitals, etc.

Read Also: The Ultimate Guide on how to become a Database Administrator

Additionally, they also make sure that data analysts and data scientists can easily use them too. In order to find the information they need and that the system performs as it should.

Sometimes, DBAs work with an organization’s management team as well. So as to understand the company’s data needs and to plan the goals of their databases.

Some Responsibilities of an Administrator include:
  • Identifying user needs to create and administer databases
  • Ensuring that the database operates efficiently and without error
  • Making and testing modifications to the database structure when needed
  • Maintaining the database and updating permissions
  • Merging old databases into new ones
  • Backing up and restoring data to prevent data loss

The above is just a sample of the numerous responsibilities they have. But, many of them are general-purpose DBAs and have all these duties. However, some DBAs specialize in certain tasks that vary with the organization and its needs.

The two Common Specialties are:

System DBAs: They are responsible for the physical and technical aspects of a database, such as installing upgrades and patches to fix program bugs. They typically have a background in system architecture. While ensuring that the databases in a firm’s computer system work properly.

Application DBAs: Using complex programming languages, they may write or debug programs. And must be able to manage the aspects of the applications that work with the databases. They also do all the tasks of a general DBA, but only for their particular application.

One thing for sure, most administrators work on teams. And they must be able to communicate effectively with developers, managers, and other workers. That said, in this article, you can read and learn more about how the workplace of an administrator feels like.

Database Applications and the Web

Most of the services we enjoy on the Web are provided by data-based applications. Web-based email, online shopping, forums and bulletin boards, corporate websites, and sports and news portals are all database-driven.

Surprisingly, in order to build a modern website, you need to develop your own data-based application first. As an example, with a Web server such as ApachePython, or MySQL, you have most of what you need to develop a data-based web application. The key glue you need is a way for the Web Server to talk to the database.

In other words, a simple way to incorporate database operations into web pages. And the most popular glue that accomplishes this task is PHP.

Read Also: 5 Database Scaling Solutions You Need to Know

When you browse the Web, you use your web browser to request resources from a web server and the webserver responds with the resources. You make these requests by filling in and submitting forms, clicking on links, or typing URLs into your browser.

Complicated operations on data, done by commercial sites and anyone else presenting lots of dynamic data, should be handled by a separate database. You can read and learn more about Web Applications with PHP and MySQL in detail.

Takeaway,

Finally, it’s no secret and no surprise that computers are now central to the business world— central to health care, the finance world, and our everyday life. It’s staggering to think where we would be. Especially, without considering some computer programs that we use every single day for that matter.

Nowadays, engineers are constantly on the lookout for ways of doing more with less. This posts a gentle reminder that less, contrary to the cliché, is not always more. By all means, working with databases requires an understanding of complex systems, in which a minor error can cause major problems.

Related Topic: What are Algorithms? Their Maths & Computing Powers

That’s why Database Administrators use software to make sense of information and to arrange and organize it into meaningful patterns.

In reality, the Personalities of Data Administrators are very distinct. They tend to be conventional individuals, which means they’re conscientious and conservative. They are logical, efficient, orderly, and organized. Some of them are also investigative, meaning they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive.

So, does this sound like you? Take a free career test to find out if working as a Data Administrator is one of your top career matches. But, if you’ll need more support, you can Contact Us and let us know how we can help you. Besides, you can also share some of your thoughtful contributions, suggestions, or questions in our comments section.

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