What is a database?

Database definition

The definition of a database (DB) is an organized and structured collection of data that can be stored, accessed, managed and updated. A database is usually accessed through a computer, using database management software (DBMS) to update or retrieve the information contained within it.

There is a distinction between a database and a data warehouse. A database may be restricted to a single application, generally made up of tables, e.g. weekly payroll or employee lists, whereas a data warehouse may cover a wider cross-section that also includes historical information. Both are important tools for business intelligence (BI).

Database explained

So, what is a database? The simplest definition is a store of information. In addition to storing information, DBMS allows database users to access, manage, and organize information. Databases first entered modern business in the 1960s, but they have evolved from the simple hierarchical model into today’s relational, NoSQL, object-oriented, and cloud databases. Whereas the hierarchical databases accessed data in a sequential, fixed format, modern databases allow extremely flexible handling of data.

For example, a database may store general customer information (e.g. name, address, etc.) in one or more records or tables of information. After this small amount of data, the details of the particular customer will follow–recent orders, return requests, and so on. If we wish to access this information in the order that it already exists, for example to list all customers and their orders, a hierarchical database model is sufficient. But what if we want a more flexible request?

For example, what if we want to find all customers who have more than ten outstanding orders? In this case, a hierarchical data would require us to search through the information of all of the customers, using a huge amount of time and resources. In contrast, a relational SQL-based database is organized on an index/key basis, which means that we can questions like “Show me all customers with more than ten orders” and quickly access the required information.

Database examples

Every business will need to maintain, extract, and update data for its employees, customers, sales more. In its most basic form, a database could be a spreadsheet with the names and addresses of all the employees in a company. While that’s a simple definition of a database used for business, it only scratches the surface of how databases are used in the modern workplace. A database not only stores information, but, using DBMS, it helps to analyze, update, and manage it.