What is a database management system? And why should you care?

A data management system is the system that manages databases on a network. We’ve seen in the database theory articles that a database is a container for information. IT systems will use the information stored in a database to operate. But since a database in nothing more than a container, the software need a system to interact with that database. That system is called a database management system or DBMS for short.

Roles of a database management system

The first role of a Database Management System is to connect the user’s software to the
database and to ensure information is transferred correctly.  A database management system:

  • Reads and writes data in the database
  • Serves as a connection between the user’s software and the information in databases
  • Can manage many databases from different software
  • Optimizes connections so that information is readily available
  • Will ensure that data in not corrupted (for example if two users update the same information at the same time or in the case of a system failure)
  • Will make sure that information is accurate and that no conflict results of misuse
  • Will give developers tools to make their software more efficient
  • Will allow fast connections on remote locations, even on different continents (some DBMS are better than others)
  • Will replicate – synchronize – information on one or more servers to make sure that
    if one fails, the system can still be operational
  • Will allow scalability so that the software can grow with the business needs
  • Will do all this seamlessly for the users
  • Is normally a proprietary system that is independent from the software vendor (ERP, accounting software, etc.)

What is a database management system – More information

Some DBMS are more efficient than other. For example, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server are
very efficient systems that can manage loads of information and thousands of users
at the same time. On the other side, you have a system like dBase that can
hardly be called a database management system since it basically serve only as
a connection tool between the software and the database.

A Database Management System is built and managed by a Database Administrator (DBA). Implementing a full scale DBMS for thousands of users is complex and needs specialized knowledge. Nowadays, DBMS are very efficient in managing a lot of databases, data and users though the most powerful of them will allow a lot of tweaking so that a DBA can improve performance where needed.

What is a database management system – Examples

  • Oracle
  • Microsoft
    SQL Server
  • MySQL
  • Postgre
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