Database

Existing Types of Databases

Databases have provided a perfect way of storing large amounts of data for individuals, businesses, and companies. Databases vary in security; some are open access while others have strict security protocols that may even include scans.

Huge volumes of primary data are archived in numerous open-access databases, and with new generation technologies becoming more common in laboratories, large datasets will become even more prevalent. The archiving, curation, analysis and interpretation of all of these data are a challenge. Database development and biocuration are at the forefront of the endeavor to make sense of this mounting deluge of data.

Databases allow quick arrangement and translation of data that may have been a challenge without such systems. The following are the types of databases available on the market;

a.Operational databases:

These databases store data relating to the operations of the enterprise. Generally, such databases are organized on functional lines such as marketing, production, employees, etc.

b.End-User databases:

These databases are shared by users and contain information meant for use by the end-users like managers at different levels. These managers may not be concerned about the individual transactions as found in operational databases.

Rather, they would be more interested in summary information. Although, the operational databases can also generate summary information from the transaction details, they would be quite slow as they are not designed for this purpose.

c.Centralized databases:

These databases store the entire informa¬tion and application programs at a central computing facility. The users at different locations access the central database to make processing. The communication controller sends the transactions to the relevant application programs. These programs pick up the appropriate data from the database for processing the transaction.

For example, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) has a centralized database for registration of applications for new tel¬ephone connections. The data regarding the applicant are received from a local area office of MTNL.

Data validation and verification is carried out by the application programs at the central computer center, and a registration number is allotted by the application pro¬grams located at the central facility. The local area office keeps on recording it and hardly does any processing.

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d.Distributed databases:

These databases have contributions from the standard databases as well as the data captured from the local operations. The data remains distributed at various sites in the organization. As the sites are linked to each other with the help of communication links, the entire collection of data at all the sites constitutes the logical database of the organization.

These data¬bases reduce the communication requirement by ensuring that the detailed local information remains stored in the local facility. To¬day, the client-server technology is most popular for managing distributed databases. In a client-server environment, DBMS has two components, one interacting with the needs of the user (client) and passing requests to the other component of DBMS.
The other component interacts with the database to meet the information needs of the client. The primary reason for dividing the DBMS into two components is that a part of the job is moved to the user’s PC (client). This makes the simultaneous processing possible on client PC and Server com¬puter system. The server is also able to coordinate the requests from a number of clients at a time.

e.Personal databases:

The personal databases are maintained, gen¬erally, on Personal computers. They contain information that is meant for use only among a limited number of users, generally working in the same department.

These databases are generally subject specific and are user designed. They use simple and less powerful DBMS packages available on PCs. These DBMS packages may not have all the features of relational DBMS but do have simi¬lar features in a limited way.

f.Commercial databases:

The database to which access is provided to users as a commercial venture is called a commercial or external database. These databases contain information that external users would require but by themselves would not be able to afford the main¬taining such huge databases.

These databases are subjected specific and access to these databases is sold as a paid service to its user. There are many commercial database services available, particularly in the area of financial and technical information.

These databases may offer statistics regarding commodity, foreign exchange and stock markets, companies and their performance, importers and their buy¬ing patterns, decided case laws, etc. The access to commercial databases may be given through communication links.

Some of the database service providers also offer databases on CD-ROMs, and the updated versions of the databases are made available periodically. The databases on CD-ROMs have the advantage of reduced cost of communication. However, in applications such as stock market, com¬modity market, and currency market information, this medium is not suitable because information is needed on a ‘real-time’ basis.

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What is a Database?

The use of databases is an ingenious way of storage and processing of large amounts of information. Databases are specified according to the client’s needs be it for business or personal use.

Databases often abbreviated DB; a database is basically a collection of information organized in such a way that a computer program can quickly select desired pieces of data. You can think of a database as an electronic filing system.

Traditional databases are organized by fields, records, and files. A field is a single piece of information; a record is one complete set of fields, and a file is a collection of records. For example, a telephone book is analogous to a file. It contains a list of records, each of which consists of three fields: name, address, and phone number.

An alternative concept in database design is known as Hypertext. In a Hypertext database, any object, whether it is a piece of text, a picture, or a film, can be linked to any other object. Hypertext databases are particularly useful for organizing large amounts of disparate information, but they are not designed for numerical analysis.

To access information from a database, you need a database management system (DBMS). This is a collection of programs that enables you to enter, organize, and select data in a database.
Increasingly, the term database is used as shorthand for database management system. There are many different types of DBMSs, ranging from small systems that run on personal computers to huge systems that run on mainframes.

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The information in a database is access via a database management system; that are typically an aggregation of programs. The programs arrange, interpret, maintain, and store information; which is the primary goal of databases. The database manager will act as a way of controlling all the processes.

Computer databases typically contain aggregations of data records or files, such as sales transactions, product catalogs and inventories, and customer profiles. Typically, a database manager provides users the capabilities of controlling read/write access, specifying report generation, and analyzing usage. Databases and database managers are prevalent in large mainframe systems but are also present in smaller distributed workstation and mid-range systems such as the AS/400 and on personal computers. SQL (Structured Query Language) is a standard language for making interactive queries from and updating a database such as IBM’s DB2, Microsoft’s SQL Server, and database products from Oracle, Sybase, and Computer Associates.

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Some of the common databases include; Oracle databases, IBM DB2, and Microsoft’s SQL server. The following are the existing sub-classes of databases;

1.General Interest Databases

General interest databases are a great place to begin research or for a general topic. These databases contain the broadest range of materials and include many different subjects and disciplines. Examples of general interest databases include:

  • Academic Search Complete (EBSCO) – Identifies magazine and journals articles in most subject areas including social sciences, humanities, education, computer sciences, engineering, medical sciences, and ethnic studies.
  • Academic OneFile (Infotrac) – This multi-disciplinary database provides access to over 3000 journals, with links to full text for over half of the journals.

2.Discipline-Specific Databases

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Discipline-based databases are more focused than general interest databases. These databases include materials in several related subject areas. Materials are usually only from professional/trade publications and scholarly/academic journals. If you are having trouble finding information on your topic, in general, interest databases, try a discipline-based database.

  • Ethnic NewsWatch – Identifies full-text access for 200 newspapers and journals of the ethnic, minority, and native press.
  • PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service)– Contains information sources for the government, political science, social science, and related topics.
  • SocINDEX (EBSCO) – Identifies articles in all areas of sociology including anthropology, criminology, ethnic & racial studies, gender studies, politics, religion, rural sociology, social psychology, and urban studies.
  • Sports Discus – Scholarly and popular information on all aspects of sports, exercise, training, etc.

3.Subject-Specific Databases

If you are doing in-depth research on a topic, you will want to use subject-specific databases. These databases usually only contain materials from professional/trade publications and scholarly/academic journals. Below are some examples, but a list of all available subjects can be viewed on the Online Journals and Database’s page.

  • ABI/INFORM – Identifies articles on business, finance, and management topics from regional, U.S. and international publications.
  • CINAHL (EBSCO) – (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) – Authoritative coverage of the literature related to nursing and allied health.
  • Historical Abstracts – Scholarly articles on the history of the world from 1450-present.
  • PsycINFO – Identifies articles, books, and dissertations in psychology and related subjects.

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