Not too long ago, when we walked into an office, we used to find huge file cabinets holding files containing tons of information and documents. But those cabinets are sitting dormant today, as computers and Database Management Systems (DBMS) have taken over the storage, backup, access, recovery, and retrieval of data. DBMSs have revolutionized the way we store and access data.
Importance of Databases to Businesses
Modern day businesses handle and process huge amounts of data, which can be gathered either in-house or from external sources. With the advent of the Internet, web, and mobile devices the main challenge of the decade is to manage this huge resource of unstructured or raw data, which is generated every moment at a very fast pace. Unstructured data streams rapidly and constantly from different sources and is heterogeneous and variable in format. Unstructured data comprises of all data flowing in from customer interactions on websites, marketing applications running on websites, social networks, e-commerce sites, blogs, and responses from surveys and feedback. This data can be dug into and used to uncover customer consumption patterns, product and brand preferences, and other information which queries and reports can’t effectively reveal. So even with an investment of time and money, it is necessary to store and harness this huge volume of data efficiently.
Key Points of Database and Database Systems
Computerizing enterprise data storage has allowed automation of many tasks. This has reduced dependency on human intervention and has made storage, handling, and analysis of huge volume of data possible. So, a database is an important asset to all companies and ensuring its security, efficiency, and maintenance is a matter of priority. A company always ensures that it incorporates an efficient database management system or has database administrators and programmers to design and program database systems which has the following features and satisfies the following needs:
- Data storage needs are met – The database has the capability to store all the required data.
- Data is easily accessible to the end user – Data is readily available to the user.
- Data is protected – The database is securely protected against external attacks or use by unauthorized person.
- Data is manageable and maintained efficiently – The database can be easily managed and it is possible to update, add, modify, and delete the data.
- Data accuracy level is high – Data maintained and stored is accurate.
- Database is efficient – Data entry, access, and retrieval are easy.
- Data redundancy is low- Data redundancy should be avoided or the same data should be saved as few times as possible.
Database Programming Options
A company may be in the business of creating applications or programs that use databases. In such a case, database programming may be used to create and implement a customized database to be used by the application, and queries can be coded to allow the application interact with the database.
SQL or Structured Query Language has become very popular and is a universally acceptable database language used to communicate with a relational database. Every business has data and requires organizational methods or data management processes to maintain the data. SQL is the backbone of all relational databases and is the basis for all user and administrator interactions with the database. With SQL, you can build databases, enter data into the database, manipulate data, and query the database data. SQL reporting also helps in report authoring, and on creating lists, reports, charts, and invoices. To run database applications efficiently it is important to write proper SQL queries to perform different database operations on tables.
Object oriented databases are also called Object Database Management Systems (ODBMS) and objects are used in object oriented languages such as Smalltalk, C++, Java, and others. Object databases store objects rather than data. Objects basically consist of the following:
- Attributes – Attributes are data which defines the characteristics of an object. This data may be simple such as integers, strings, and real numbers or it may be a reference to a complex object.
- Methods – In an Object Oriented Database, a Method is a programming code that is written to access the data in an object.
Therefore objects contain both executable code and data. Classes are used in object oriented programming to define the data and methods the object will contain.
Java, another object oriented language, uses Java Virtual Machine (VM) to interpret Java code. More and more database vendors are embedding Java VM into their server software to extend their databases. JDBC (Java Standard Edition platform), a java based technology from Oracle Corporation, is an API for the Java programming language and is oriented towards relational databases. It defines the database accessibility for a user and provides methods for querying and updating data in a database.
After the data is stored, it is important for some companies to use appropriate tools and procedures to analyze the massive data sets and extract meaning and patterns from them. This is done by a computer-assisted process called Data Mining. By using pattern recognition technologies, statistical and mathematical techniques, and programs to sift through the warehoused information, data mining can help you to analyze data and recognize significant facts, relationships, trends, patterns, exceptions and anomalies that might otherwise go unnoticed. Data mining tools predict behaviors and future trends, allowing businesses to make proactive, knowledge-driven decisions. Data mining tools can answer business questions that are otherwise time-consuming and they scour databases very quickly to find hidden patterns and predictive information that experts may find difficult to find and foresee.
For present day organizations, data goes hand-in-hand with inventory, labor, and capital. Jobs for database administration, database programming, and data analysis are on the rise as the demand for database developers and experts swells in different industrial sectors. So it will be wise to become acquainted with database and database applications and keep yourself abreast with the developments in the area of database development.