What comes in your mind when you read the word databases? Facebook? Yahoo? Google? YouTube? If yes, then yeah you are right! All these Fortune 100 companies use databases to store data because since we produce so much data every day, their job is to store it and show it to us when we need it, in a flash of a second. How is it done? What goes in choosing the right database technology and what are databases after all? This report is going to answer all question on the various types of database technologies and critically evaluate them and come up with the most outstanding one. It also gives a peek through into the evolution of databases and tells a tale of how database technology has become one of the most compelling inventions of the information science world. If you are opening your business soon, then you got to give this a read, because surely one wouldn’t doubt the importance of data in today’s digital space.
2. Introduction to databases and data management
A database, as defined by Merriam-Webster is “a usually large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer)”. The world of databases has grown at the tremendous pace since the invention of the modern computer. The reason for the increasing use of database systems is its ever-increasing demand. This is because the amount of data that is generated by people and organizations is vital, and database management systems (DBMS) provide a way for them to store it and access it at any given time. Their role in the world of business is unparalleled and its importance can be gauged even from our daily lives. Databases are used in buying grocery at supermarkets, searching for courses at universities, finding a book in libraries, accessing the Internet and even for booking your favorite restaurant. There is no question regarding the reach of databases, because they are used in just about anything you can think of. Databases have evolved from flat file systems to DBMS, which means database management systems. The latter standard is in use at the forefront of the information world.
A simple example of the role of databases in your daily life is email. When you log in into the Yahoo Server, your email address and your secure password are stored into the Yahoo servers in USA. These servers’ host powerful database technologies like Oracle. When you enter the information, the computer checks them against the ones you entered initially when creating your account, now stored in those large databases. If you enter the correct details, then only can you access your email. Now you realize why databases are crucial, because without them, email won’t be possible, since something has to live in something, it can’t exist in nowhere! A few follow up links to find out more on uses of databases are
www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/ict/databases/2databasesrev4.shtml & www.cdis-now.com/uploads/media/WhyDoYouNeedaDatabase.pdf. The latter link gives examples of why a company manager is better of using databases instead of simple spreadsheets.
3. Benefits and drawbacks of database technologies
The importance of database systems has been highlighted in the introductory section of this report. We would now discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of using database technologies. The common database system in use is the RDBMS (relational database model). Considering the report to be audible to people of all fields, technical terminology will be kept on a low.
The advantages that database technologies have are of startling impact to businesses and/or organizations. The advantages are listed below.
Advantages of database technologies:
- Data is stored without any duplication/ redundancy
- The information is at one place, accessed by a software
- Accessibility at anytime, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- Easy to retrieve any piece of information
- Multiple access by many people at the same time
- Higher levels or security
- No use of papers anymore, everything stays digital
- More information from the same amount of data
- Easy to share data with any one who wants to have a look
- Economies of scale due to cost savings, as it’s all digital
- High levels of manageability
- Easier to maintain
- Easy backup and recovery features
Yes, these advantages surely will sound good news for any manager, but one should be aware of the drawbacks of using database technology as well.
Dis-advantages of database technologies:
- Database systems can sometimes become extortionately complex
- Large database systems are difficult to design or model for a business
- Enormous database systems require extra hardware for storage
- Incurring of additional hardware costs to accommodate the enormity
- DBMS software are expensive, such as Oracle which costs thousands
- High cost for older business using flat files system to convert to DBMS
- Digital loss could sometimes be irretrievable and it could affect a business
As we have seen the pros and cons of using database technology, there is usually a risk involved in adapting a new technology. However database technology is maturing very rapidly, so a risk must be taken to make use of it as they ultimately affect the productivity of an organization, which is vital.
For more information, read p27-p31 of the book Database Systems by Begg and Connolly. This would describe the pros and cons in much greater detail.
4. Current and emerging trends in databases
The world of database boasts many kinds of technologies, which cater to the need of many kinds of organizations. In this part of the report, we aim to highlight the three current and emerging trends in database technologies and how certain organizations can make use of each of these market-orientated technologies.
RDBMS (Relational Database Management Systems)
One of the most commonly used technologies is the relational database management system. This type of technology is current in massive use and two popular companies that provide software based on RDBMS are famous the Oracle and IBM. To avoid technical jargons, we wont discuss how they work but rather what they do. RDBMS store data in form of tables and the relationships between them are also stored in tables. This technology allows linking many tables together so each record of data stays safe and using powerful retrieval techniques, information could be retrieved without any duplication. The RDBMS for instance allows to easily comparing ages of employees or most hours worked by an employee solely due to the relation between various kinds of table interlinked with each other. This is commonly used in just about everything we can think of, railways, banks, online stores, grocery stores and even the favorite Facebook.com. The RDBMS is the answer to those business and/ or organizations that deem these key features as important, scalability, mature, stable, portable, easy integration and cost-effective. The RDBMS is the ideal choice for businesses that require order processing, inventory control, banking, airline reservation and any job that requires storing numbers and text.
OODBMS (Object-Oriented Database Management Systems)
The emerging trend in database technology now is OODBMS. Object oriented database management systems are capable of doing what the RDBMS cannot. In this short section we will highlight the capacities of OODBMS and what types of businesses need to invest in this type of technology to further boost their productivity. Although RDBMS have enjoyed a great deal of success as the most popular database technology, it brings with it its disadvantages, which could be potentially overcome by employing OODBMS. The RDBMS have proven to be inadequate for businesses whose needs are different from common businesses These businesses are those which make the use of Computer aided design, computer aided manufacturing, computer aided software engineering, geographic information systems and multimedia systems. OODBMS allows storing more types of data other than just text and numbers and allows modeling complex things with the help of objects. Using programming languages extensively, it becomes possible to use complex operations to achieve remarkable, accurate and fast results. It is also easier to model complex tasks using OODBMS, as there is just one hierarchical diagram required to establish use requirements. Currently companies that use this are Citibank and JP Morgan.
DDBMS (Distributed Database Management Systems)
A third popular technology in use in the database world is DDBMS. It stands for Distributed Database Management Systems. This technology makes the data distributed across many locations (database servers or computers) so it can be decentralized and be accessed by a variety of users. DDBMS employ techniques such as storing data fragments at many places and keeps that specific portion of data to where its more often used. This enhances speed. More over, it enhances and reflects the true face of an organization structure and increases data availability so if one server is down, the data could still be accessed as it is distributed across the network. Moreover, buying many small computers could cost less than buying one big powerful computer, and this is due to economies of scale. The DDBMS is for businesses that are spread over a long area and there is more than one stakeholder who takes responsibility of managing the networked database.
5. The one to watch
From a personal point of view, I consider the RDBMS, the relational database management system, to be the way for the future and business and organization alike should target using it in future. This is due to a variety of reasons. Firstly, the RDBMS has a standard. This standard is in form of a standard language called SQL, which makes it more popular as its documentation, and user guidance is available massively on the Internet, as compared to DDBMS and RDBMS. Moreover, since the current trend is that there are third party tools available for RDBMS systems more than any other kind of database technology. These tools are backup tools and migration tools. Moreover, since many businesses use the popular MySQL RDBMS on the internet, there is a high support system for this web RDBMS and it would not be easily possible for a company to shut down for a day or two just to switch databases technologies. RDBMS in general is easier to maintain and we can read this blog on Facebook to know how Facebook employees use MySQL and why they think they are fortunate (see link I). The reason for this is that the RDBMS system is built in the core of many markets across the world and people have understood its usability and found it quite interoperable. This interoperability with many popular programming languages such as Java and PHP makes it the right choice for application developers, apart from managers who choose it due its cost-effectiveness, power and manageability.
6. Want to know more?
 Database Systems, Begg and Connolly, p27
About Ali Gajani
Hi. I am Ali Gajani. I started Mr. Geek in early 2012 as a result of my growing enthusiasm and passion for technology. I love sharing my knowledge and helping out the community by creating useful, engaging and compelling content. If you want to write for Mr. Geek, just PM me on my Facebook profile.