What Is a Database?

Pavlo Ivlev 11 September 2023

A database is an ordered assembly of structured data typically stored electronically in a computer system. It’s usually governed by a database management system (DBMS), contributing to a comprehensive database system, or simply 'database'. Data found in modern databases are usually arranged in tables formed of rows and columns to simplify data querying and processing.
Database's inception dates to the 1960s with network models featuring records interconnected to multiple primary and secondary records. Hierarchical databases, following the tree schema, also originated around this time. Advancements led to the creation of relational databases in the 1970s, object-oriented databases in the 1980s and eventually to present-day SQL, NoSQL, and cloud databases.

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What is SQL?

SQL stands as a typical programming language employed by relational databases for data querying, manipulation, and control access. Initial databases were rudimentary and inflexible, evolving gradually over decades. More recently, the rise of internet led to NoSQL databases catering to the need for faster data processing. Presently, cloud-based and self-driving databases are gaining popularity.
More about SQL read in our previous blog

Difference between a database and a spreadsheet?

Databases and spreadsheets store information efficiently. But their distinction lies in data storage, manipulation, and how many users can simultaneously access the database. Spreadsheets, initially created for single users, are user-friendly for uncomplicated data manipulation. Databases, contrastingly, host larger data collections and facilitate simultaneous multi-user access and complex data queries.

Database Types

Various database types accommodate different organization needs:
- Relational databases, popular in the 1980s, organize data into tables. Object-oriented databases hold data in the form of objects.
- Distributed databases host multiple files across different locations. Data warehouses designed for fast query and analysis act as data repositories.
- Unlike the structured relational database, NoSQL, or non-relational database allows storage of unstructured data.
- A graph database saves data as entities and their relationships, while OLTP databases are designed for large-scale transactions.
Today's databases also include open source DBMS, cloud databases that store data on cloud platforms, multimodal databases integrating diverse types, document/JSON databases for storing document-oriented information, and self-driving databases using machine learning for automated tuning and management.

Database Software and DBMS

Database software facilitates easier data management through structured data storage, data entry, editing, backup, multi-access management, and security. Database software or DBMS serves as an interface between the database and its users and helps manage and optimize data. Some popular DBMS examples are MySQL, Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, FileMaker Pro, Oracle Database, and dBASE.

MySQL Database

MySQL, an open-source DBMS based on SQL, is suitable for web applications. Its flexibility to process millions of queries and transactions has made it popular among e-commerce businesses requiring multiple money transfers. MySQL is the foundation of several prominent websites and web-based apps like Airbnb, Uber, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Business Performance and Database

Considering the volume of data harvested from the Internet of Things (IoT), diligent organizations can utilize databases beyond simple transactions, enabling better decision-making and agility. Self-driving or autonomous databases, leveraging automated processes, is central to these capabilities.

Challenges with Database

Large databases supporting complex queries often demand quick responses. Yet, persistent challenges arise from significant increases in data volume, data security, real-time access demand, database management and maintenance, unpredicted scalability needs, and so forth.
Self-driving databases using automated processes are a promising solution to these issues without requiring extra management efforts, potentially revolutionizing data management and security.

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