Database Management Software – An Overview
In simple terms, database management software is a set of software tools that help manage databases. To understand other functions of database management software, one needs to look at what databases are and what they do? Databases are repositories of data. Business and other applications access this data, manipulate/modify it and store it back or may even delete the data records. How the data is organized internally affects how effectively and efficiently data could be found and manipulated. This structure or the arrangement of data inside a database has evolved over time. From hierarchical and networked models, most database today are relational. Data in these relational databases are organized in a tabular fashion. Database management software will make sure such structures are maintained properly. This organization is much like the spreadsheet kind of arrangement like Microsoft Excel. Each row has information or data items that are related to the information contained in the row or record. Most of us are familiar with phone books and they are typically organized in a table. One row of the table is dedicated to details of contact about a particular person. The items in the columns or fields are attributes or information/ data elements related to that person. Names (may be split as first and last names) and phone number would be the minimum amount of details. Work phone, home phone, mobile phone and any number of other details (birthday, and other anniversaries and so on) could be held in such a tabular arrangement.
Some examples of info in a database are:
- Employee information
- Flight data information
- Movie ticket booking
- On-line shopping support
Why do we need database management software then? Well it is apparent from the prior discussion, you may need to create different kinds of tables, modify its structure sometimes or remove the table entirely. With the relational model it is possible to have multiple tables in a database where another table may have related data. Any organization will need many types of data to be organized in unique databases. Database management software helps with creation of all kinds of database you need.
A DBMS or database management system is a collection of software that helps creation of these databases. The database management software system also implements a query language. The query language lets the user search for relevant data specified through the query language. With relational databases this query language is the SQL or structured query language and is supported by all the relational database management software systems (RDBMSs). Though supposedly standard, each manufacturer has a little twist to the language support through their DB management systems. Essential these are some proprietary extensions to the core functions of the operations defined in the SQL standard. When these data searching and manipulations are carried, one needs records of what operations and changes were done. Thus report generation is an important function of the database management software systems. Often the reporting functions are supported by graphical charting functions to help add meaning to the reported information easily. On-screen viewing and printing support are other functions provided. One important set of features help configure the database management software system and tweak parameters to fine-tune performance. Some examples of RDBMS are Oracle, SQL Server, DB2 and MySQL. A lot of housekeeping work including backup, restore and disaster recovery, etc. are often included in database management systems.