Database Software

What is Database Software?

Database software is software that is designed to create databases and to store, manage, search, and extract the information contained within them.

The History of Database Software

The history of Databases and database software is neatly intertwined with the history of computing in general.

As the cost to purchase and maintain computers dropped, organizations began to utilize the immense power they offer for storing and sorting data. Once it became easier and cheaper to hold more data, it naturally became necessary to maintain the data in easily accessible ways. Database software was born.

Database software is software that is designed to create databases and to store, manage, search, and extract the information contained within them.

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Database Software

A quick overview of modern database technology

Spreadsheets process numbers and databases process information—specifically, structured information. Databases can be designed to do just about anything with information, such as:

  • Track, organize, and edit data
  • Collect data and produce reports, or
  • Be the foundation for information-rich, dynamic websites

The most common database technology today is the relational database. Relational databases store data in a normalized way—that means the data is split up into different tables to avoid redundancy. While relational databases have been around for quite a while now, they offer a versatile tool for both data storage and data management. Both user-facing applications with high demands on performance and reporting software can be backed by a relational database.

However, there are cases when relational databases might not be your first choice. One case is when the rigid structure of the data in a relational database does not fit the data that you want to store. For example, you might want to store a JSON document without a specified schema. It could, for example, be a configuration file or some form of user-generated data. This is when NoSQL databases are useful. The data is usually queried using an API or SDK instead of SQL, hence the name NoSQL. These databases usually also provide very fast access to the stored data. Instead of the database engine having to parse SQL and join together the data you specified in your query, NoSQL databases are tuned to instantly fetch the requested data through their API.

Types of database software technology

Relational database management system (RDBMS): this traditional database technology can be applied to most use cases, and as a result, is a very popular option. Information is presented in rows and columns and allows for easy querying using SQL. RDBMS are mostly used to store relatively simple information, such as contact information and user identities. This technology is also highly scalable making it a good option for large organizations. It can be hosted on-premises, in the cloud and on hybrid-cloud systems.

NoSQL: This is the second most common database technology next to RDBMS. The name of this technology stands for “not only SQL.” Standard SQL language can be used but it also supports a variety of data models, such as key-value, document, columnar and graph formats, as opposed to just rows and columns. The purpose of this design is to allow it to handle evolving data structures.

In-memory database management system (IMDBMS): Rather than focusing on a variety of use cases or data structures, the main goal of in-memory database tools is to provide fast response times and improved performance.

Columnar database management system (CDBMS): This technology was mainly designed for data warehouses. These systems typically store large amounts of very similar data. So a data structure composed of mostly columns is a more straightforward solution to maintaining a database.

Cloud-based database management system: TCloud database technology is gaining popularity as many organizations are shifting to a cloud-based or hybrid cloud infrastructure. They are highly scalable and maintenance is often provided by the cloud service.