What is a Database?

24 January 2022


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Why is data increasingly important and how is it organized, managed and used? How do databases become a fundamental tool that involves not only the sphere of pure computing, but also the fields of semantics, AI and everyday life?

What is a database and what is it for

Databases, or databases , are the primary source on which the collection of information from today’s world is based.
Like a huge virtual library , the DBs collect and catalog data, making them easily accessible to a user.

Obviously, the sources from which these data are collected are many, potentially infinite: a telephone directory, a site where data are stored for its operation, even a social platform such as Facebook use databases to find and store hundreds of thousands of data.

How a database works

A DB system collects information and connects them into a logical unit , to do so, it firstly uses a physical part, the hardware and then a program part, a software.

  1. Hardware
    We are obviously talking about the part of physical structures through which a database system is managed, therefore the computer devices, the actual machine, more or less complex depending on the needs.
  2. Software
    To manage and keep organized the data accumulated in the hardware, a database requires a software, a management “program” , often a real operating system or Database Management System, abbreviated to DBMS.

What is SQL?

The acronym SQL is the short form of Structured Query Language , which is the standard programming language for managing relational databases. It is used for all the functions of insertion, search, update, modification and deletion.

It was born in the 70s thanks to IBM and an important contribution from Oracle and over the years it has been a source of inspiration for numerous extensions created by IBM, Oracle and Microsoft itself.
Used a lot even today, however, it is losing ground in favor of some new programming languages.

What types of DBs exist

Among the many ways in which a database can be created and organized, some are better known than others.

  • Relational database

To date , one of the most popular DB systems , appears already in the 80s. In this mode the elements are organized as a series of tables made up of columns and rows, providing a very efficient and flexible access to information.

  • Object Oriented Database

In this case, in the Object Oriented concept, the information contained in the Database is represented in the form of objects, as in the programming called in the same way. While this allows for simpler and more flexible creation and processing, on the other hand it is impractical in handling large amounts of data.

  • NoSQL database

Also called non-relational, this type of database does not require fixed schemes , and unstructured or semi-structured data can be stored and manipulated. The diffusion of this type of DB has grown exponentially to meet the increasingly complex demands of Web applications.

  • Open Source Database

All databases with an open license fall into this category, so they can be managed and implemented by potentially infinite developers. The Open Source databases in turn can be SQL or NoSQL.

  • Cloud database

By DB Cloud we mean software that is delivered through a cloud computing platform , managed by a provider. Among the major advantages, the availability of space and scalability.

  • JSON data

It is a type of document database, designed for data in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format. The most suitable use is for archiving blog contents, catalogs and has a great indexing flexibility.

The management of a database through DBMS

Database Management System (DBMS) is software that is used to manage a Database. Its function is basically that of allowing end users or programs to better interface with the database, to facilitate all the operations connected with it.

These systems make it possible to improve IT security , counteracting unauthorized attacks and thus guaranteeing the integrity of the information contained in the databases.

Structured at the hardware level in a system of storage media (Hard disk) and a processor that allows its use (database server), the DBMS then has a software that manages the structured archiving of data.

Some examples of the most popular DBMS systems are: MySQL, Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, FileMaker Pro, Oracle Database and dBASE.

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