What Is Database Management?
Data is a crucial part of modern businesses. Using data, businesses can make more informed decisions about their products. For instance, an e-commerce business can use data on best-selling products to decide what type of product should be released next. Organizations like governments and charities also make extensive use of data.
You may find yourself asking: how is all the information collected by businesses and other organizations stored? The answer lies in the field of database management, which deals with the practices and tools used to store and manage data.
In this article, we will discuss what database management is, why it is important, and what database administrators do.
What Is Database Management?
Database management encompasses all the tasks and processes involved in building database infrastructure and maintaining existing databases. Database managers keep track of databases and ensure they are performing up to standard. They also conduct maintenance on databases, decide how certain data is stored, and control when backups are generated.
Businesses need their databases to be as accessible as possible, which is why many organizations entrust data management to professionals. For instance, it is very common to see a database manager or administrator in a business that stores a lot of data. Such a professional makes sure the database infrastructure is up to date and functioning normally.
What Is a Database Management System?
Database Management Systems (DBMS) are used by database administrators to store data. These tools store data and provide the means by which data professionals can retrieve data and alter it. Some DBMS systems are interactive, such as Microsoft Access, whereas others depend on a professional who uses SQL to retrieve information.
Having a good DBMS system is essential for a business. Having a strong DBMS ensures that the data a business stores is safe and secure and is not likely to be lost due to a fault. However, DBMS tools do not do everything themselves. A database administrator needs to configure the tool to make sure the database is set up and working correctly.
Features of a database management system include:
- Audit logging: Audit logs keep track of changes made to a database and who made them. Audit logs also track who has accessed a database and when.
- Data storage and manipulation: You can easily store and alter information in a database.
- Manipulating the structure of a database: A database management system makes it easy to change the structure of a database. For instance, you can add new tables to a database or change the name of a column.
Some DBMS tools, like Microsoft Access, are designed for non-professionals. With such tools, simple tasks can be carried out without too much hassle even by someone with little understanding of database architecture. More advanced database work, however, may require oversight from or cooperation with a data professional.
What Does Database Management Involve?
Database management involves managing data infrastructure and ensuring that people are able to retrieve the information they need. Database managers work with people from a range of departments who need assistance working with a database.
In addition to ensuring everyone who needs to can access a database, database managers are entrusted with ensuring the security of the database. This is essential because often databases include sensitive information that should only be accessible by certain people or tools.
To ensure the security of a database, administrators make backups, review audit logs, and keep up with security updates released by software providers.
On a daily basis, database managers monitor the performance of a database and ensure it is readily accessible. If a database is running slow, the database manager may decide to scale the servers on which it runs. If a database suffers an error, the database manager will be trusted to fix it.
Database Management and Planning
While a lot of database management work is practical—ensuring a database is functional, secure, and accessible—database managers also have to plan infrastructure.
Consider this scenario. An advertising business has decided to launch a new product. This new product will require a database. A database manager will work with relevant stakeholders like product managers, engineers, and data scientists to determine the best infrastructure for the database. This may involve drawing graphs and conducting research on what tools to use.
A database manager also has to plan for the future in terms of scaling and reliability. A good database manager will constantly monitor the performance of their infrastructure and plan when new servers may be needed or when more computing power will be necessary. The more forward-thinking a database manager is, the better they are able to anticipate future challenges and tackle them before they come.
Database Management Examples
Imagine you are working for a bank. The bank is building a new online tool that helps customers save money. To build this tool, the bank needs a new table in a database. While software developers will actually build the money-saving tool, they will need to ask the database manager to create the architecture for the table on which the savings tool will rely.
Alternatively, imagine that you are working for a logistics company. The company wants to add a feature to their last-mile deliveries that let customers request their parcel is delivered to a neighbor. You may be asked to come up with a list of changes needed to support this feature. You will then be tasked with making the changes you have planned.
Here’s another scenario. You are working for an insurance company that stores its claims in a database. You will need to monitor that database to make sure there are no unauthorized attempts to access it. You will also need to monitor the systems on which the databases run to ensure they can keep up with the database.
Data in the Modern World
Database management plays a crucial role in businesses, governments, and other organizations around the world. The field of database management defines how database systems should be implemented and maintained.
Professionals called database administrators, or database managers, are responsible for managing databases. These professionals ensure everyone in an organization can easily access information from a database. They also ensure databases are up to date, secure, reliable, and are backed up on another system.
You will see database managers in many businesses that have their own in-house databases. Larger businesses may employ multiple managers to oversee their databases.
Without database managers, businesses would have a hard time ensuring their databases are stable and secure. Because databases are business-critical in most cases, such instability is not feasible: businesses need to know their data is in safe hands and has been architected for long-term stability. That’s why we have the field of database management.