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June 8, 2016updated 07 Feb 2017 9:38am

What is a database?

From relational to non-relational, a database is important to your business.

By James Nunns

A database is an organised collection of data.

Sitting at the core of an enterprise, a database is a collection of information that is organised so that a business can access, manage, and update it.

The most common type of database is a relational one; this is a database that is structured to recognise relations among data items as a set of formally-described tables.

There are also non-relational databases, often called a NoSQL database.
The relational database is a tabular model, while a NoSQL database is not.

what is a database

Database tables consist of columns and rows, much like an Excel spreadsheet. Each column contains a different type of attribute and each row corresponds to a single record, this model is particularly well suited to structured data while a NoSQL database is well suited to dealing with unstructured data.

There are four general types of NoSQL databases, a graph database, key value store, column store, and document database.

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How do you choose the right database for your business?

While relational databases from the likes of Oracle and Microsoft are the most common market choices, the NoSQL database has been growing in popularity due to the rise of unstructured data.

The top enterprise relational database vendors include Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, SAP, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB.

Some of the top NoSQL database vendors include MongoDB, Couchbase, Cassandra, and DataStax.

Depending on the size of the business, a free database system may be better suited to the needs rather than deploying an enterprise scale system. Free databases such as SQL Server Express, a free version of Microsoft’s SQL Server could be a good choice for smaller workloads.

Numerous features are available across all database types that will allow organisations to effectively manage and control their data. Features such as analytics capabilities are commonly available, while several programming languages such as Java and JSON are at hand to allow development of applications on the system.


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