A database is an organized collection of structured information, or data, typically stored electronically in a computer system. A database is usually controlled by a database management system (DBMS).

Sun May 29, 2022

What Is a Database?

A database is an organized collection of structured information, or data, typically stored electronically in a computer system. A database is usually controlled by a Database Management System (DBMS)

Databases are used for storing, maintaining and accessing any sort of data. They collect information and that information is gathered in one place so that it can be observed and analyzed. Databases can be thought of as an organized collection of information. Most databases use structured query language (SQL) for writing and querying data.

Evolution of the Database

Databases were first created in the 1960s. These early databases were network models where each record is related to many primary and secondary records. Hierarchical databases were also among the early models. They have tree schemas with a root directory of records linked to several subdirectories. 

 Relational databases were developed in the 1970s. Object-oriented databases came next in the 1980s. Today, we use Structured Query Language (SQL), NoSQL and cloud databases. 

 E.F. Codd created the relational database while at IBM. It became the standard for database systems because of its logical schema, or the way it is organized. The use of a logical schema separates the relational database from physical storage. 

 The relational database, combined with the growth of the internet beginning in the mid-1990s, led to a proliferation of databases. Many business and consumer applications rely on databases.

Types of Databases

There are many different types of databases. The best database for a specific organization depends on how the organization intends to use the data. 

 Relational Databases 

 Relational databases became dominant in the 1980s. Items in a relational database are organized as a set of tables with columns and rows. Relational database technology provides the most efficient and flexible way to access structured information. 

Object-oriented Databases 

Information in an object-oriented database is represented in the form of objects, as in object-oriented programming. 

Distributed Databases 

A distributed database consists of two or more files located in different sites. The database may be stored on multiple computers, located in the same physical location, or scattered over different networks. 

Data Warehouses 

A central repository for data, a data warehouse is a type of database specifically designed for fast query and analysis. 

NoSQL Databases 

A NoSQL, or nonrelational database, allows unstructured and semistructured data to be stored and manipulated (in contrast to a relational database, which defines how all data inserted into the database must be composed). NoSQL databases grew popular as web applications became more common and more complex. 

Graph Databases 

A graph database stores data in terms of entities and the relationships between entities. OLTP databases. An OLTP database is a speedy, analytic database designed for large numbers of transactions performed by multiple users. 

Open Source Databases 

 An open source database system is one whose source code is open source; such databases could be SQL or NoSQL databases. 

Cloud Databases 

A cloud database is a collection of data, either structured or unstructured, that resides on a private, public, or hybrid cloud computing platform. There are two types of cloud database models: traditional and database as a service (DBaaS). With DBaaS, administrative tasks and maintenance are performed by a service provider. 

Multimodel Databases

Multimodel databases combine different types of database models into a single, integrated back end. This means they can accommodate various data types. 

 Document/JSON Database 

Designed for storing, retrieving, and managing document-oriented information, document databases are a modern way to store data in JSON format rather than rows and columns. 

Self-driving Databases 

The newest and most groundbreaking type of database, self-driving databases (also known as autonomous databases) are cloud-based and use machine learning to automate database tuning, security, backups, updates, and other routine management tasks traditionally performed by database administrators.

What are Database Challenges?

Setting up, operating and maintaining a database has some common challenges, such as the following: 

  • Data security is required because data is a valuable business asset. Protecting data stores requires skilled cybersecurity staff, which can be costly.
  • Data integrity ensures data is trustworthy. It is not always easy to achieve data integrity because it means restricting access to databases to only those qualified to handle it.
  • Database performance requires regular database updates and maintenance. Without the proper support, database functionality can decline as the technology supporting the database changes or as the data it contains changes. 
  • Database integration can also be difficult. It can involve integrating data sources from varying types of databases and structures into a single database or into data lakes and data warehouses.

What is Database Software?

Database software is used to create, edit, and maintain database files and records, enabling easier file and record creation, data entry, data editing, updating, and reporting. The software also handles data storage, backup and reporting, multi-access control, and security. Strong database security is especially important today, as data theft becomes more frequent. 

Database software is sometimes also referred to as a “Database Management System” (DBMS). Database software makes data management simpler by enabling users to store data in a structured form and then access it. It typically has a graphical interface to help create and manage the data and, in some cases, users can construct their own databases by using database software.

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