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What is Database? Definition, Types, Benefits, and Functions

Last updated: Aug 16, 2023

What is Database? 

The function of databases has become increasingly significant, especially considering the widespread and dynamic dissemination of information in this digital era.

But, what is database exactly?

A database is a technology that serves as the backbone of data management. It exists in order to make the data collection process become more efficient and organized.

As we live in this digital age, the function of databases is becoming crucial. It is even related to every online service you use in your daily life.

A database is a term used to describe a base or collection of data that is systematically organized within a system.

If you wonder what is database, it is basically quite similar to a digital library that never ceases to operate.

A database is a foundation that contains various types of data, ranging from text, images, numbers, audio, and even videos.

Therefore, databases are critical for every inventory management system, whether in small or large companies.

Although not directly visible, databases serve a highly important presence. With a database, all activities related to categorizing information can become more accurate, fast, and efficient.

Alongside the rapid advancement of technology, business decisions are always based on in-depth data analysis.

Therefore, databases are trusted as one of the key elements to achieving business success in the modern world.

Database Function

Once you grasp the concept of “what is database”, it’s time for you to understand its function in the world of information technology and business. In essence, database functions include:

1. Organized Data Storage

Now that you know what is database, you must understand that this base serves a primary function to store data in an organized manner, which accordingly enables more efficient data access.

Databases provide a structured space to store data, defining data types, entity relationships, and integrity constraints to ensure long-term consistency and accuracy of data.

2. Preventing Data Duplication

Another function of databases is to prevent the possibility of duplicate stored data.

Database Management Systems (DBMS) are designed to recognize and avoid inputting the same data into the system. If similar data is entered, the DBMS signals the database manager through immediate notifications.

3. Cost Savings

What is database and why it can save you costs? Please note that centralizing data within a system can minimize the need for additional data storage. 

This cost-saving function of a database comes from using a single server to fulfill various data-related needs. 

4. Facilitating Access for Many Users

The database can also facilitate access for multiple users. With a database, you can store thousands or even millions of data entries in one system, with efficient access distribution.

You can grant access to multiple parties to simultaneously access and manage the database.

5. Centralizing Data

What is database for centralizing data? The primary purpose of a database is to centralize data. Without a database, data that have been acquired could be scattered or even worst, lost.

Thus, centralized databases make the process of data monitoring and management become a lot easier in the future.  

6. Maximizing Data Security

Storing data without a centralized database tends to have lower security levels.

For instance, if you store important data in various folders, you need multiple keys to secure each folder. 

With a centralized database, only one master key is needed to ensure complete security for all data types. A lot more efficient, isn't it?

Types of Databases

After knowing “what is database”, you should also get familiar with some types of databases. In total, databases can be categorized into 5 types. Here's a more detailed explanation of all types of databases:

1. Warehouse Database

Also known as Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW), this type is a specialized form of a database system that holds a central role in the field of Business Intelligence (BI).

Database Warehouses are designed to collect, store, manage, and analyze data from various sources.

This type of database supports rapid and efficient decision-making processes by integrating data from diverse sources, based on different formats, structures, or locations. Examples of Database Warehouse types such as;

  • Microsoft SQL Server: A system capable of performing tasks not just on a single computer, enabling efficient access from computers in different locations. 

2. Operational Database

What is database in operational type? Operational Databases are databases that manage and store operational data in real-time. This type paves the way for the fast-paced dynamics of business.

With an Operational Database, you can modify, delete, or add data instantly without hindrance.

This is one of the reasons why many companies use Operational Databases to store employee-related data. Some examples of databases in operational type include:

  • XML (Extensible Markup Language): Equipped with rules for creating documents with two distinct codes that can be read by both humans and computers. Data can be synchronized directly by users to support real-time activities in managing vital information.
  • JSON (JavaScript Object Notation): A file format that utilizes text for data transmission. In the interaction between web browsers and web servers, JSON serves as a language facilitating data exchange, allowing for real-time synchronization.

3. Relational Database

What is database in relational type? A relational database is the most common type based on the relational data model. In this type, data organization is done in the form of tables that have relationships with each other.

The Relational Database Model was created by Edgar F. Codd in 1970 and has become the foundation for many modern database management systems (DBMS).

As the most prevalent type of database, there are various examples of this type, such as:

  • MongoDB: Offers flexibility to developers in building scalable applications and websites.
  • MySQL: Considered a perfect solution for dynamic websites, e-commerce transaction management, and data storage.
  • PostgreSQL: Used in applications and websites with complex data and deep analysis needs, including mobile applications.
  • MemSQL: Compiles SQL into machine code for efficient processing.
  • MariaDB: An open-source database with many features.
  • SAP HANA: Stores and retrieves data on demand, performs predictive analysis, and handles spatial data.
  • IBM Db2: Supports relational and non-relational features, including JSON and XML.
  • Firebird: SAn open-source SQL system compatible with various operating systems: Linux, Windows, dan Mac OS. 
  • Interbase: A multi-generational architecture with a minimal footprint.
  • Oracle Database: Uses server-side memory structure to manage user information, cache, and SQL commands.  

4. Distributed Database

What is database in distributed types? Within this type, data are stored in different locations but have a central distribution point, often called a Data Center.

These databases can be physically distributed or connected through a computer network.

This type of database is crucial for maintaining data confidentiality, especially for companies with high sensitivity. An example of database of this type is: 

  • Microsoft Access: Do you know what is database in Microsoft Access? In this platform, users have the opportunity to directly import data between one dataset and another stored in the database. The application of this type is well-suited to the concept of a Distributed Database, as file storage does not require an active server.

5. End-User Database

End-User Databases allow all data to be developed, managed, and directly accessed by users.

Users who interact with these databases are referred to as end-users. 

If you wonder what is database in SQLite, it is actually embedded in applications for direct data storage by end-users.

  • SQLite: SQLite has a unique and distinct approach compared to other database systems. It is embedded directly within the final application, making it ideal for supporting direct data storage by end-users.
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