What is a database management system?

A Database Management System is a system that allows multiple users to access, create and modify data entries in a database. The program is a multiuser application that will allow multiple users to access and change records easily, whilst maintaining the integrity of the data and also ensuring the security of the Database, with user accounts that limit particular users to editing particular entries and making sure that a malicious user can not compromise the Database. MySQL uses user passwords for each database helping with security.

The database management software will also provide the ODBC driver for connecting the Database to other Databases easily, translating the particular SQL statements into the language that the other Database can understand. There are different types of databases, flat, hierarchical, relational and network are different ways that the database organises the data. This can affect the way that the data is accessed. A DBMS will include a Structured Query Language allowing the user to access the data using an SQL query.

Another way to speed up queries that was developed in the 1980s is using a smaller database to store information about the most used queries, this called indexing is the same as the Windows search index and the Apple iPod music database. The purpose of the DBMS is to make looking up data in a Database very easy. The interface using SQL language allows natural language queries that make looking up data by typing a simple query that is able to search through many tables of data to find what you are looking for.

So the key features of the Database Management System is that information is able to be fed into the database easily, and easily retrieved with the DBMS interface. The high-level language allows the queries to be done by users that do not need to understand the whole layout of the Database to perform a query on the database and retrieve the information they were looking for. That is important when you do not have a lot of time to find the data. A GUI interface that allows easy searching for accounts and product information is another tool that makes database queries very powerful.

The Linux/UNIX MySQL server software that runs this website and countless other websites on the Internet is a powerful tool for running a website that is required to store data such as user accounts and user generated information such as the Wikipedia. Wikipedia uses the MediaWIKI software and the MySQL database software to present a massive database of knowledge that is accessed all over the world. The Internet would be a different place without the massive databases that allow us to visit a website and easily search for the information we are after.

A database allows you to store a huge amount of information, but keep it easily accessible with SQL queries that can search through a huge repository of information and retrieve it very quickly. Someone once said that they imagined as a child a huge database that would store everything that everyone told it, every scrap of knowledge from everyone on the planet and then someone could ask it a question and they would receive their answer in a flash. Sort of like the Librarian in Snow Crash or the holographic computer librarian in the Time Machine re-make.

Something like this is possible, with the ever escalating power of computers and the amounts of memory and storage space that a Data Centre can pack in, this could be a reality, bringing all of the knowledge on the Internet in one giant database that has immortalised all human knowledge in one place. This would create a gap between those who had access to the information and those who do not. That is why the Internet must remain free as in accessible by anyone who wishes to, either in a public library, an Internet café or at home with a paid ADSL or fibre connection.

References and further reading.

1: http://searchsqlserver.techtarget.com/definition/database-management-system.

2: http://www.techterms.com/definition/dbms.

3: http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/D/database_management_system_DBMS.html.

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