It’s indisputable that data has become a significant part of life in the 21st century. With accelerating growth in generated data – an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes each day – there needs to be an effective way to sort through essential data, process it, and extract insights.
The solution we have is a database management system or a DBMS.
Before discussing the importance of a database management system, let’s first dive into its history.
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The evolution of the DBMS
The DBMS was first introduced to the world back in 1960. In addition to storing and extracting data sets, the DBMS allowed authorized users to manipulate the data by way of insertion, deletion, creating, controlling, defining, and revising.
Over time, data became more complex and specialized. As such, there was a need for a database management system that could deal with these evolving requirements. During the 1970s, the world got its first-ever relational database management system or an RDBMS. This advanced, more efficient version of the traditional database management system can store data in rows and columns (or tuples and attributes, respectively) and accessed using a database query language like SQL.
After the advent of the RDBMS, numerous types of database management systems started to appear. Here’s a brief overview of other notable DBMS:
- Document databases – A kind of non-relational database designed for storing and querying data as JSON-like documents. Document databases ease a developer’s effort for storing and querying data in a database by using the same document-model format used in the application code.
- ER model databases – A high-level conceptual data model diagram, ER or entity-relationship modeling helps in systematically analyzing data requirements for producing a well-designed database.
- Graph databases – A type of NoSQL database, a Graph database replace tables with graphs having vertices and edges. While the vertices represent entities, such as a person or place, the edges represent the relationship amongst two nodes.
- Hierarchical databases – Follows a data model in which the data is organized into a tree-like structure. The data is stored as records, and different records are connected via links. Each record contains a collection of fields, whereas each field has only one value.
- NoSQL databases – An alternative to the traditional relational database, a NoSQL database is immensely useful when working with giant sets of distributed data. Unlike SQL databases that are table-based, NoSQL databases are document-based, key-value pairs, graph databases, or wide-column stores. Other than this, there are several other notable differences between SQL and NoSQL databases.
- Network databases – A form of database model in which it is possible to link several member records or files to multiple owner files and vice-versa is a network database. The model is like an upside-down tree where each member information is the branch linked to the owner, represented by the bottom of the tree.
- Object-oriented databases – A niche in the mammoth RDBMS industry, an object-oriented database model is one in which objects represent the information. This one is much less popular than other types of database management systems.
The importance of a database management system
Let’s circle back to the topic at hand – what are the advantages of a database management system. As mentioned earlier, database management systems serve as the solution to the influx of data that is generated daily.
There are many benefits associated with the ability to process large amounts of data efficiently, and the most important among them are as follows:
1. Improved efficiency
Database management systems are essential for businesses because they offer an efficient way of handling large amounts and multiple types of data. The ability to access data efficiently allows companies to make informed decisions quicker.
Database management systems are incredibly versatile. They can be accessed on computers, tablets, and even mobile devices.
3. Allowing categorization and structuring of available data
Database management systems allow organizations and individuals to categorize and structure available data. For instance, a database for a university can store students’ admission information (e.g., name, expected graduation year, nationality) and can also save students’ grades and GPA.
A database management system makes it possible for multiple authorized users to access the same database from different places, in different ways, to fulfill different intents.
For instance, an HR admin can evaluate yearly salary raises by accessing employees’ present pay and increment increase decided by their manager to determine that amount. At the same time, the development team can access the same database to recruit a temp to replace a team member who has fallen ill.
5. Creating an organized working environment
A database management system offers a way to create a smooth, more organized working environment. A database query language, such as SQL, provides an easy way to access, update, as well as process data stored in databases.
Most database management systems come prepackaged with programs that have Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL queries for enabling 3rd-party programs to access data.
6. Newer and better ways to manage data
A robust database management system not only allows authorized users to add new data to the database while also updating the present data and deleting any data that might have become obsolete. Like the world, the database management system is evolving.
There is a constant addition of new and better ways of doing all DBMS-related things. Machine learning has allowed DBMSs to generate suggestions that can help a decision-maker or admin better manage the database.
RDBMS vs. (the traditional) DBMS
The DBMS is the predecessor to the relational database or an RDBMS. RDBMS are far more popular than DBMS for several reasons, including:
ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, durability) properties - Sometimes, there can be inconsistencies with a DBMS. This is because the traditional DBMS doesn’t follow ACID properties:
- Atomicity - ensures that either the entire transaction takes place or not.
- Consistency - Ensures the correctness of a database.
- Isolation - Ensures that several operations can co-occur without causing any inconsistency in the database.
- Durability - Ensures that once a transaction is complete, the updates and modifications made to the database exists even if there is a system failure.
- Data access - Only a single data element can be accessed at a single time for a classic DBMS. Several data elements are accessible at the same time in a relational database management system.
- Data fetching - A relational database management system offers rapid data fetching due to its relational approach.
- Data redundancy - Classical databases often suffer from data redundancy, which is merely having the same data repeated at different places. Keys and indexes eliminate data redundancy in relational databases, thereby reducing resource waste.
- Normalization - Normalization is used for organizing data in a database. It helps in reducing the data redundancy present in a database. A traditional DBMS doesn’t support normalization, while an RDBMS does.
- Relationships amongst data - There are no relationships between data in a classic database management system. On the other hand, data is stored in the form of tables in an RDBMS that is related to one another with foreign keys.
- Database structure - A classical DBMS stores data in either a hierarchical or navigational form. An RDBMS follows a tabular structure approach, rows and columns, for storing data.
- Distributed databases - Management of data with different levels of transparency and increased availability are two of the many advantages of using distributed databases. An RDBMS supports distributed databases while a classical DBMS doesn’t.
- Hardware and software requirement - A classical DBMS requires low software and hardware specifications than a typical relational database management system.
- Integrity constraints - Integrity constraints, such as referential integrity for handling data integrity, ensure accuracy and consistency in a database. A DBMS doesn’t support integrity constraints. These aren’t imposed at the file level. Contrary to this, integrity constraints are supported by an RDBMS at the schema level.
- The number of users - While a DBMS supports only a single user, RDBMSs offer support for more than one user.
- Data security - Security is an essential aspect of the internet today. However, no data security measures are available for a traditional DBMS. As a result, it is prone to malicious data modifications, data theft, and so on. On the contrary, modern RDBMS feature multiple-level security, ensuring that data can only be accessed by those intended.
Over to you
This sums up our understanding of the importance of database management systems. This might not be an exhaustive list of the benefits, but that’s where you come in. Is there anything we’re missing?
PS - If you’re preparing for a database-oriented role, consider checking out these important DBMS interview questions.
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