March 23rd, 2015
Databases are a key elements of today’s business world. Almost every company in the world makes use of databases to help store, process, and utilize information to achieve various tasks and goals. To get the most out of databases companies employ database management systems. In this paper we will be taking a look at what database systems are, as well as the architecture that defines them.
Before we begin it is important to understand that data and information mean two completely different things. Data is information in its raw form; before it has been processed or organized in some fashion. Information is born from this processing of data. A database is a shared, integrated computer structure that stores a collection of end-user data--raw facts of interest to the end user, and metadata--data about data, through which the end-user data are integrated and managed (Coronel, Morris, & Rob, 2013). Databases are exactly as their name implies, i.e. they store the data that we find useful.
Database management systems are what we employ to make use of this data. A database management system (DBMS) is a collection of programs that manages the database structure and controls access to the data stored in the database (Coronel, Morris, & Rob, 2013). Database managements systems are what allow us to modify, retrieve, update, or create new databases for the data we seek. Think of it this way “If the database is a file of information, then the DBMS is the file folders, the file labels, and the file cabinet” (Rouse, 2015). Database management systems are kind of the middle-man that is used to interpret the raw data that we interact with on a daily basis; they allow us to make sense of things that otherwise would not make sense.
Database systems are often defined by their architecture. Database architectures are broken down into one of three categories usually, which are one-tier architectures, two-tier client/server architectures, and n-tier client/server architectures. One-tier architectures are usually smaller than others because there are either less users to employ it, or less data to deal with. Microsoft Access is a good example of a one-tier architecture, because it runs and pulls data from the same machine or workgroup. Two-tier architecture is something that is much more common to the average person. An example of this type of system is that of a Microsoft Windows based client program that accesses a server database such as Oracle® or SQL Server®. Users interact through a GUI to communicate with the database server across a network via SQL (Structured Query Language) (Morgan, 2007). The key thing to take away from two-tier architecture is that there is a second level of interaction occurring, such as accessing a database through the Internet. The information that is being accessed is being hosted on a server and then interacted with through a web browser such as Internet Explorer™ or Google Chrome™. The last type of architecture is N-tier architecture. As one would assume, n-tier contains at least three tiers of architecture…