Data and databases are the two interdependent most important things in the present technology world. The world is completely unimaginable without these. The relation between data and database gives us the primary information which produces discourses and knowledge. If we consider a database with a storehouse, then the stored components are data. More clearly, a database is the structure where data is stored.
What is Data?
Data is defined as figures or facts that are stored in a computer system. This can be a piece of information with no context. If I tell you, ‘00, 25, 88, 65’, you will not get anything clearly, but I have already given you data. So, data is everywhere and it’s just a collection of facts.
When you hear the word quantitative what the first image comes to your mind? I think of numbers such as 7, 15, 18. That’s quantitative data, it’s numerical data. And there are two types of numerical data.
- Discrete Data
- Continuous Data
Discrete data is based on the counting process. For example, you can count 6 dogs, but you can’t count 6.5 cats. It’s impossible. Anything that can be counted will form the category of discrete data.
On the contrary, Anything that can be measured is continuous data. Things like distance, speed, and weights can be measured. That is continuous data.
Qualitative data are basically descriptive data based on observations and use words to describe the data, not numbers. This is an actual difference between qualitative and quantitative data.
Qualitative data usually involves five senses. It can be visual that you see such as color. It can be felt, something soft or hard. It can be tasted or what you hear. It also can be smelled as a good or bad smell. So, these are the forms of qualitative data.
What is Database?
We already know what data is. But this data could be random. A database is a systematic collection of data. Since the data in a database is organized, it makes data management easy.
Database Management System
Database Management System (DBMS) is a collection of programs that enables its users to access a database, manipulate data, and help in the representation of data. It also helps to control access to the database by various users.
Let us go for examples to make this more clear. An online address book would definitely use a database management system to store data pertaining to the name of people or organization, location, phone numbers, and other information. Also, please consider twitter as another example. It needs to store, manipulate, and present data related to users, members activity, messages, advertisements, and a lot more.
Oracle RDBMS, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, SQLite, and Informix are some popular database management systems.
Types of Databases
There are many types of databases. Among them, we are going to cover the following types that are sorted down according to the access level and activity.
- Single User Database
- Multi-User Database
- Centralized Database
- Distributed Database
- Operational Database
- Analytical Database
Single User Database
It’s like a stand-alone application that works on your computer. It only supports one user at a time because it’s running locally on your machine, all the resources that are allocated to the database and the machine are being fully used by one user. Consider Microsoft Access as an example, here you can design your own database and only one user can access this at a time.
First of all, this type of database runs on a server. So, multiple users can be connected to it. It can either be hosted locally in your house or office; or in the cloud. All the resources that are stored in the database are being shared amongst all the users that are connected to the database at any instance. Again, there are two types of multi-user databases.
- Workgroup database
- Enterprise database.
Workgroup databases are commonly restricted to a specific department in a company. If you own a company and it consists of multiple departments like human resource, marketing, customer support, etc; And, if the human resource department decides to have their own database that is only for them and multiple users could be connected to it. That database would be a workgroup database.
And now, the Enterprise database is not restricted to any department, it is only restricted to the users within the company. So, you can be in any department as long as you are connected with the database.
Just like the name says, it keeps all the data in one location. So, when multiple departments are being connected to it, all the data and information are being centralized in one location. It allows cross-functional projects.
There are a few disadvantages of a centralized database. When too many people are connected to the database, it can make the process slow. Even, this can reduce productivity if things are happening constantly.
Security can also be another disadvantage, but if all the options are correctly configured, it can turn into an advantage.
Now the Distributed Database what comes in. A distributed database is a special kind of database that is replicated in many locations. Imagine, your company has a database in the United States, another in Australia or Canada, all the databases will have the exact same information. There is no interference between users, and each user can connect to the nearest one. If someone is staying near the United States, s/he can connect to the United States located database. And if s/he moves to Australia, the person will be connected with the Australia located database. So, in a sense, the same information is available in all the different databases.
Another important thing, if any database fails, the system is not going to be crushed because other databases are available to provide the same data.
Now, the disadvantage of distributed databases is synchronization. Synchronizing the data amongst all databases, it takes a lot of time. But using highly configured components can reduce the synchronizing time.
Operational Databases are mainly used for transaction purposes. When you go to buy something the cashier asks for your postal code, s/he is interacting with an operational database in the backend trying to locate whether you exist in their database or not. The data is updated dynamically. And, the transaction of buying your product would be saved in the operational database. Anytime you see a point of sale (POS) system, the backend is working with an operational database.
This is mostly a read-only database and it stores historical information of your transactions. The data is not constantly updated because the information it stores is just a copy or snapshot of a point. This database is commonly used by the business analyst, corporate executives, and other workers mainly for reporting purposes to see the performance of their company.