Database Systems – Everything You Need to Know

A collection of data that lives for a long time is the need of digital life today. From here, the concept of a database has arisen. With the growth of the Internet, demand for faster processing of unstructured data also increased. Thanks to NoSQL and cloud database for setting new directions to data collection and management.

Store data without a computer database system?

Managing business records using MS-Excel files can be frustrating. While working on an Excel sheet, every click on a cell freezes your screen for 10 seconds. The opening of larger data file may slow down Excel program execution.

Each time record needs to be updated manually. Anyone can change formulas and values in company files without being tracked. This lack of security may result in financial losses for any business. An Excel file contains one error per twenty cells of data on an average.

The database has become an essential part of every system today!!

There is the best alternative to the Excel tool that is SQL database. To query a database directly, SQL has designed. SQL is short for Structured Query Language. It tells the database which data you want to manipulate and view. Security of data residing inside the database is also high.

These handle a large amount of data without suffering performance issues. Only authorized users can update business records. An Excel workbook is composed of multiple sheets. In the same way, an SQL database consists of many tables.

1.      Database and Database Management System:

In simple terms, a database is a collection of data (related data, the same type of data) that show some aspect of the real world. A database system is developed and populated to perform a specific task. Database Management System (DBMS) is a collection of programs that manipulate the database. It is software used for storing and retrieving data. It ensures proper security measures for user’s data.

DBMS provides an interface between software application and data. Users can create their customized part, according to their requirements, using this software.

DBMS accepts the request for data from the end-user and then instructs the operating system to provide that specific data.  In a software system, users and other third-party software can store and retrieve data using a database management system.

2.      Types of Database and Database Management System:

A variety of databases is available in the market today. A centralized database is the preferred option if the system demands centralized data storage accessible from different locations.

A distributed database is the preferred option if an organization needs to store its data at multiple locations. For a small group of people within the organization, a personal database will be easily manageable.

The end-user database can be software or an application. Commercial databases are large and small companies cannot afford to maintain. Large volumes of unstructured data stored at multiple virtual servers, nothing can be better than NoSQL databases for their analysis!!

Other types of the database include operational, relational, cloud, object-oriented, and graph database. According to the user requirements, a system has to design using any of these databases.

As discussed earlier, a database management system is to manage the database. There are eight types of database management systems know today: hierarchal, relational, and network; object-oriented, graph, document, and ER model, NoSQL databases.

3.      Examples of databases in everyday life:

From online movies to e-commerce applications, databases are everywhere in our lives today. Online television streaming, social gaming, sports, finance, and social

media platforms, are based on specialized database management technology.

Highly secure and sophisticated databases are needed for syncing data across your devices, stat analysis during a cricket match, tracking millions of transactions in banks, healthcare systems, and weather forecasting.

4.      Database application software and programming languages:

Much database application software is available that anyone can use to design databases. These include SQ lite, Oracle, Microsoft Access, MySQL, FoxPro, dBASE, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, LibreOffice Base, and Microsoft SQL Server.

The most popular database language is SQL. Structured Query Language skills are necessary if you are looking to start your career as a database developer, database analyst, or database administrator.

SQL is a standard programming language that we use to create, design, and manage relational databases. It is a universal programming language. For SQL learning, there is no need for prior programming experience. It also helps you to learn other languages like Python and JavaScript.

There are four types of DBMS systems in which a relational database is one. A relational database consists of a group of tables containing rows and columns. Each column in the table shows a category of data such as student name, age, or address. Each row has a value against the column name such as Ali, 23, or Norway.

Other languages used for database programming include MySQL, HTML (HyperText Markup Language), PERL (Practical Extraction and Report Language), JavaScript, PHP, and XML (Extensible Markup Language).

MySQL is a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) that runs as a server and have up to 11 million installations. It provides multi-user access to several databases.

MySQL is open-source software that uses a subset of SQL and ANSI (American National Standard Institute). PERL is the popular server-side scripting language. It was developed by Larry Wall, specially designed for text processing.

5.      How a user interacts with a database?

Users can create and edit files using database programs easily. Following is the list of tasks that users can perform with the database:

  • Create data entry forms
  • Create a table and set index
  • Edit / update a table
  • View query
  • Modify structure
  • Reporting

A form is designed by the programmer to enter data and to display each record. Field validation is applied to determine which data can go into the database and which not.

In a table, each field has three characteristics: name, length, and type. On the fields of a form, a programmer creates indexes. Whenever records are added or deleted, the index is updated accordingly. To update the table using DBMS, open the table and click the Edit option.

Records are selected using an SQL command called a query. A programmer can sort these records to create the desired view. According to requirements, fields are added and deleted from databases from time to time.

Their names and lengths can also be updated as needed. As compared to queries, reports provide more elaborative summaries. A Report consists of a page and column header in which fields are sortable.

6.      Benefits of a database system over Microsoft Excel file:

The database management system overcomes the deficiencies of the traditional file management system. DBMS supports real-world entities. It also uses attributes and behaviors, like a college database may use “student” as an entity and its age as an attribute.

DBMS supports relationships among entities. Users can understand the whole database design just by looking at table names. Normalization rules remove redundancy from relation (also called table). To ease its procedure, a database management system stores metadata.

Unlike file-processing systems, DBMS provides greater consistency. Query languages are for efficient data manipulation. Additionally, it allows multiple views for different users. A variety of techniques is offering by the database management system to store and retrieve data.

DBMS acts as an efficient handler to balance the needs of many applications that share the same data. It offers high security and data integrity. Application development time has reduced using the database management system.

7.      Stages of a database life cycle:

There are five stages involved in a database life cycle: requirement analysis, logical design, physical design, implementation, and the last one are monitoring, modification, and maintenance.

The life cycle starts from assessing the informational needs of an organization. The designed database would fulfill those needs. A logical design is created based on requirement analysis.

This design is an ER diagram that shows tables, fields, and primary keys. It also shows how tables of a database link to each other. Normalization is performed on these tables to make data access faster.

The purpose of physical design is to maximize database efficiency. After implementing a database, the monitoring, modification, and maintenance stage continues long and repeatedly. Hence, a database life cycle never ends!!

8.      Database design strategies:

There are two possible ways to approach a database design. One way is to focus on the subject concerned with the database. The other way is to focus on the application used to create and view the database.

To develop any database, designers use top-down design and bottom-up design methods. A centralized design is preferable for a small number of objects and procedures. Designers use a decentralized design if a system contains complex procedures and several entities.

9.      Components of a database management system:

The very first component of any database system is hardware. It includes workstations, storage, and network devices, etc. The other major part is software that involves DBMS itself, application software, and utility software that manipulate data using a database management system and operating system.

Five types of users interact with a database system. These are system administrators, database administrators, database designers, system analysis and programmers, end-users.

Procedures are to design and run the DBMS. These are rules and instructions. Documented procedures are to guide the users that operate and manage DBMS.

The last vital component of the database system is data. The database designer determines the type of data inserted into a database and procedures to generate information from this data. A database contains both actual data and metadata.

Are you thinking about cloud database for the 21st century?

A cloud database is built and accessed through a cloud platform. To move a business database from a data center to the cloud is a technological change. To run a cloud database, one can use private, public, or hybrid cloud computing platforms.

In a traditional cloud database environment, a database runs on an organization’s infrastructure. IT staff has to manage the database. A database runs on the service provider’s infrastructure in a database as a service (short for DBaaS) environment.

In such a model, service providers maintain physical infrastructure and database. And customer maintains database content and operations. Some of the best cloud databases are Microsoft Azure SQL database and IBM Db2 on the cloud.

Distributed database systems – a tactic to handle replicated data!!

Unlike centralized databases, data is accessible in a distributed system in case of umbrella network failure. A database user creates additional instances of the same data in different parts of a database. This identical data can be accessed locally using a distributed database. This tactic avoids excessive traffic throughout the system.

The system developer stores separate copies of the database at two or more sites.

This data replication helps the database system continue to work in case of a site failure. Query processing takes less time during working hours as local copies of data are available.

End-users can update data during non-working hours. If one data item is updated, all copies of those data items are updated simultaneously. That is the distributed design strategy. It helps to manage the database system where multiple data copies are involved.

Web browsers like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer are an example of distributed applications today. These have back-end software called server on the World Wide Web and front-end application installed on your device.

Organizations that use distributed database approach can troubleshoot and test more efficiently. Businesses can add new functionality without extensive development and testing.

Companies that have successfully implemented distributed database systems include Netflix, Uber, eBay, Zalando, Amazon, and SoundCloud. The best NoSQL distributed database service providers are F(x) Data Cloud and Amazon SimpleDB.

Final Thoughts:

Experts do not recommend a database management system if an organization does not have the budget or expertise to operate the DBMS. In such cases, go with Excel files or CSVs.

A database system is often large and complex. User training is required to operate and manage a DBMS. The high cost of database management software and hardware may increase the budget of an organization.

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