A database can be described as a collection of information that is organized and categorized for easy access, search-ability, updates, and management. Databases can be used to store many different types of information, including inventory, customer data, employee data, accounting information, and other factors.
Banks use databases to keep track of customers and their accounts, balances, and transaction histories. Warehouses use databases to manage inventory and keep track of orders. A B2B SaaS company might use a database to keep track of its customers, their account histories and interactions between the customer and the business. There are several different types of databases that can be implemented based on their characteristics and the unique requirements of users.
Database management is the process of defining, manipulating, retrieving and otherwise managing data that exists in a database. When a database administrator needs to interact with a database to make changes or updates, they may do so using a database management software tool.
Database management systems (DBMS) provide the toolset and interface that enables a database administrator to interact efficiently with the database and its contents. A large database might have thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of elements, each with its own unique attributes and associated data. Without a DBMS, users and administrators would be forced to engage with the database through inefficient manual processes. Instead, a DBMS provides four main functions that facilitate interaction between users and data:
- Data Definition - DBMS allow database administrators to create, modify or remove the definitions that are used to organize data. A database can include several files that organize different categories of information. A database system is defined in terms of how the records in each file are structured, which data elements are stored in each record, and how the values of each data item are represented in the database.
- Update - Database administrators can use DBMS to insert new data into the database, modify data that exists within the database or delete data in the database. Some databases are used to actively manage business processes, such as an inventory system for a logistics company. When inventory is shipped from the warehouse, it must be removed from the database. When a new inventory is received, it must be added to the database. Other databases may be used to store information for the long-term, such as a database of contacts for a sales organization. In these cases, deletions may be less frequent but updates and new additions may be more frequent.
- Retrieval - A business process may require information that is extracted from a database to be presented in a specific format. DBMS allows administrators to search databases for the needed information and make that information available in a form, combining or altering it if necessary based on business-specific requirements.
- Administration - Database and system administrators may use database management systems to regulate user access to the database, enforce data security, monitor and assess the performance of the database, maintain and verify data integrity, or recover information that may have become corrupted.
Database administrators depend on database management system tools to facilitate their interactions with different types of databases and the information contained within.
Many types of organizations across industry verticals depend on databases for information storage and to help manage core business processes. There are several different types of databases that an organization may choose to deploy based on their unique requirements and circumstances.
A hierarchical database organizes data into a tree-like structure. Windows Registry and IBM Information Management System (IMS) are two common examples of a hierarchical database. Data in this type of database is organized into fields where each field contains a single value. A field containing a value is called a record and records are organized into parent-child relationships within the tree. Each child record can only have one parent, but each parent can have multiple child records.
Hierarchical databases are useful because the relationships between records are clearly defined, but the structural limitations mean that the introduction of a new field or record might require the entire database to be restructured.
Network Model Database
A network model database is similar to a hierarchical database in that they both organize data into a tree with parent and child records. The key difference between the network model and the hierarchical model is that a network model database allows each child record to have more than one parent record. This type of organization can be necessary for modeling more complex relationships between items in the database.
While a hierarchical model might be useful for constructing a family tree, for example, a network model database might be useful for keeping track of manufactured inventory and which parts or inputs are needed to manufacture a given product.
Relationship databases are the most widely implemented systems for organizing data. Here, data is organized as a set of independent tables that may be linked to other tables that share the same or similar data. Records in a relational database may be linked using a virtual key that is not stored in the database but may be defined by a database administrator using a database management software tool.
Some of the most common database management software tools were designed for use with relational databases, including Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database, MySQL and IBM DB2.
Object-oriented databases combine database technology with the technology of object-oriented programming. These databases are focused around objects and data, rather than actions and logic.
An object-oriented database adds the functionality of databases to an object programming language such as Ruby, C++, Java or Python. In an object-oriented database, the data in a single column or row can be grouped together and treated as a single object. An object may also refer to the association between an attribute and a database entity (such as relating the mass of an inventory item to that specific item).
Database management software can be used by database administrators to regulate access to secure databases, including setting user permissions, regulating access credentials and setting up user authentication steps. Beyond that, organizations can invest in modern security solutions like Sumo Logic that help monitor and regulate access to database servers stored in the cloud.
Sumo Logic gives security analysts real-time insight into database server activity, along with the artificial intelligence capabilities to support the detection of security threats or anomalies. The ability to troubleshoot database performance while monitoring the system for suspicious usage or unauthorized access makes Sumo Logic an exceptional tool for enhancing database security.
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