A database is a group of data that is related in some way. Unlike the file system, with its different and unrelated files, the database is made up of logically related data stored in a single file, which is normally stored in the computer. A Database Management System (DBMS) is a program that helps users to create and maintain a database, it eliminates most of the file system’s data inconsistency, data anomalies, data dependency, and structured dependency problems. DBMS can be categorized according to the structure of data and their relationships, which is known as database models. There are various database models, including the hierarchical database model, network database model, relational database model, an object-oriented database model.
The various application areas of databases include business and trade, using supermarket databases; financial institutions use databases for credit card facility and banking transactions; databases are used for booking hotel rooms and plane seats in the tourism industry; in educational institutions, libraries use databases that have details about books available, details for users, and reservations; and in the insurance industry, personal details can be accessed easily using databases. Therefore, this paper focuses on the significance of DBMS in organizations. The paper discusses the common examples of DBMS and their use, and how DBMSs help businesses, managers, and organizations to meet their data management needs.
Examples of DBMS and their Use
There are several DBMS in the marketplace. However, the most common examples include Microsoft Access and Oracle. Both DBMSs fall under the relational DBMS category which provides efficient and non-redundant data storage and manipulation. Thus, the characteristics of these database programs as used in companies include the following; data is entered and stored once in tables and does not need to be repeated, allowing data sharing from a distributed network, they ensure that only related data are represented thus reduce irrelevance and ambiguity, and they reduce the volume of data in a table to only related fields thus data search is fast and easy (Ramakrishna, 114).
Looking at Access, the management of institutions such as the tourism industry and insurance agencies sees it as a feature-rich program that can handle any database-related task including storage and even database tools. It stores related objects and it is a module of the popular Microsoft Office software suite: data can be linked with other applications, such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft PowerPoint.
Moreover, Access makes it easy for the company to publish its information to the internet via the World Wide Web. This increases the company’s productivity by providing direct information to its customers by the concept of ‘providing the best of all worlds’ (Laudon).
Likewise, Oracle as a database program is much valued within government agencies like the Bureau of Census due to its data management ability. Oracle Database 10g, as a version of Oracle, is much efficient and more importantly, its security system ensures that important data of an agency is secured and managed properly.
The Oracle application can store and run stored procedures and functions automatically, it can also be invoked by other programming languages like Java which rely on the Application Programming Interface (API). More so, the storage of Oracle is through a consistent repository represented by tablespaces and physically through files; this gives a database administrator an easy task in the management of databases (Oracle, 1).
In this light, businesses, managers, and organizations use the DBMSs since they provide the following functions:
- Data storage management – database management systems enable users to store and retrieve data from data repository without any programming details. For instance, records about a patient can be easily retrieved using their admission number. DBMSs also provide storage for data and related data entry forms;
- Data conversion and presentation – database applications transform the physical data structure of the system to a conceptual format that is easier to understand. Therefore, managers find it easy to use the information and thus make proper decisions regarding the functioning of the company;
- Security administration – database programs ensure that security rules are in line with data stored in the database. For example, the Oracle server provides discretionary access control, which ensures that information access is granted through privileges;
- Transaction support – since most organizations such as the banking industry are concerned with processing a large amount of data, transaction control is essential. Thus, database applications ensure that the database is updated correctly when multiple users are accessing the database;
- Backup and recovery management –this ensures that the data is safe and experiences integrity;
- Data integrity management – database management system promotes and enforces integrity rules;
- Database communication interface – they provide special communication routines which allow the database to accept user requests (Stair & Reynolds).
Importance of DBMS
Database management systems help businesses, managers, and organizations in various ways. The following are several advantages realized through the use of database management systems.
Enhancement of Data Integrity
Relational DBMS is used to enhance the integrity of data in many ways. Entity integrity is a form of data integrity that requires every table in a relational database to have a primary key; no duplication of rows within a given table is acceptable. To ensure that there is validity and accuracy of data, a database designer selects the correct primary key that reflects the requirements of the database concerning information search, updating, and deletion of the stored data (Ramakrishna).
For instance, when designing a company database, tables such as the EMPLOYEE table and DEPARTMENT table are included in the database. To ensure the accuracy of the entities, the employee number in the EMPLOYEE table acts as the primary key, while the department number in the DEPARTMENT table acts as the primary key. Both patient number and ward number uniquely identify other information in their respective tables hence entity integrity is experienced. This ensures that the data stored is valid and consistent.
Support for Business Rules
DBMSs enable managers to define business rules which are in line with the business operations. Business rules are database-specific rules which are integrity constraints that are separated from entity integrity and referential integrity. These rules are more specific to each record being stored in the database and they are in line with the policies of the business or rather the organization that is procuring the database. Business rules are as important as integrity rules and thus there is a need for specification and enforcement of these policies (Laudon).
Business rules are important to the database designer because they shorten the time of design. This is generally applied for instance when using a relational database system like Access. Access has validation rules for each column, hence shortens the development time (e.g. <> 0, implies that a non-zero value must not be entered). Secondly, business rules enable the designer to enforce the general integrity required by the business and thus lowering the cost realized in the modification of the business processes. Having a flexible integrity rule may be able to take into consideration the changes in business policies and strategies.
Ad hoc query Capability and Data Presentation
Most government departments and agencies such as the department of security, the census department, and the healthcare department require instant record generation to effectively manage many requests submitted to the database. In this regard, such organizations use relational DBMSs to ensure that queries are generated as fast as they are needed. For most relational DBMS, structured query language (SQL) makes pure ad hoc query a reality.
This implies that users experience flexible query capability in answering questions. For instance, a relational database may help managers in a government institution dealing with driving statistics to answer a query like, “How many people in the state of California have a driving license”; through the processes of constructing a query in SQL, the result can be generated quickly in form of reports or charts, hence efficiency in the workflow (Beg & Connoly, 25).
More information from the Same Data
With the incorporation of the operational data, it may be possible for the organization to generate additional information from the same data. For example, in the file-based systems, the contracts section does not have an idea of who owns the leased property. Equally, the sales department has no facts of the leased information. When these files are integrated into one database, the contract department will have access to owner details and the sales department will have access to leased details. Beg and Connoly comments that more information can be now derived with the help of DBMS (26).
Economies of Scale
Having all company’s operational data into one database and creating a set of applications that depend on only one source of data can result to cost savings. In this instance, the budget that would be allocated to every branch for improvement and safeguarding of its file system can be put together perhaps resulting in lower total cost, leading to an economy of scale.
Database management systems are very essential in managing an organization’s data towards its corporate goal. Thus, before choosing a database program, a firm may consider the cost, security features, recovery facilities, user interface, and memory requirements. This paper has analyzed how DBMSs help businesses, managers, and organizations, with regards to examples of DBMS and their use, and the importance of DBMS.
MS Access and Oracle are relational DBMS that helps organizations to efficiently store related data. The DBMSs enable businesses to efficiently perform functions like data dictionary management, data storage management, and data transformation and presentation. DBMS enables a database to exhibit both data integrity and entity integrity. Therefore, data management is easier; considering the enhancement of relational constructs, support for business rules, the capability of flexible query generation using SQL, more information from the same data, and economies of scale.
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