A database is a collection of data organized to meet users’ needs. Why This Matters
Without data and the ability to process it, an organization would not be able to successfully engage in business activities, nor would it be able to generate reports to support knowledgeable workers and decision makers which in turn help’s to achieve organizational goals; it would not be able to pay employees, send out bills, and order new inventory. Databases have made it possible to map the structure of DNA, and for scientists to share their research; without databases, the human genome project would not be possible. Without databases, there would be no Google, Amazon, eBay, or Facebook. Databases and the systems that manage them are at the foundation of all successful information services. Consider This
In its Digital Universe study, market research firm IDC reports that the world’s total stored data and information in 2011 was 1.8 zettabytes. A zettabyte is equal to 1 billion terabytes. IDC predicts that the amount of information we store will grow 50 times over the next decade. This far outpaces our ability to manage the information. IDC believes that businesses and governments need to act now in order to build a workforce and the technologies necessary to manage the rapid growth in data and information. As you read about databases, consider strategies to manage huge amounts of global data generated by transactions, human activity and communication, market research, scientific research, media production, interactions between people and things, and all types of human endeavors. What information is worth storing? What should be discarded? Who can be trusted to store and maintain your data? Where should it be stored? Should we trust automated systems to manage our data? What actions should be taken now, to help save the world from data overload? Essential Information
Data consists of raw facts, such as sales or weather statistics, events, or song titles. For data to be transformed into useful information, such as quarterly profits, hurricane predictions, a personal calendar, or a music collection, it must first be organized in some meaningful way. A database is a collection of data organized to meet users’ needs. Throughout your personal and professional life, you will directly or indirectly access a variety of databases ranging from a simple list of music in your iTunes library to complex business systems used for accessing customer information, transaction data, a corporate knowledge base, and many other types of essential information. In a database approach to managing information, multiple application programs share a pool of related data. Each application shares a collection of data files that are maintained in a database stored in a central location sometimes called a data center. A grocery store chain, for example, runs multiple applications from a common database system. This database approach allows the chain’s management to obtain and analyze customer receipts from hundreds of stores. Storing data in one centralized database is also more efficient and less prone to errors or mistakes. A database approach to data management reduces data redundancy. Data redundancy occurs when data is copied, stored, and used from different locations, resulting in multiple copies of data. Redundant data is difficult to manage because any required change must be applied to all copies of the data, but often a copy is overlooked and becomes inaccurate. Inaccurate data can be more dangerous to an organization or individual than no data at all. Because a centralized database stores data only once, the problem of data redundancy is solved. Reducing the number of copies of data also means that less storage is required. The advantages of using a centralized database system are summarized in the following table. Although databases and data centers can be costly to set up and maintain, companies and organizations find that the advantages more...