What is DBMS? Types, Applications, Advantages & Disadvantages

Database Management System DBMS

Find out what is DBMS (Database Management System) and its different types along with the various advantages and disadvantages of this system.

Important terms and definition


By definition, a database is an organized collection of various related data, which is generally stored or accessed electronically from a server or any computer system. Usually, these data represent some aspect of the real world.

Database Management System (DBMS)

We have discussed Database above. Now we need a system or software, or a collection of software or various systems to store the data. This is the task of the Database Management System. Database Management System is popularly known as DBMS. DBMS is the software which is responsible for interacting with the end-user, application or the system and the Database itself to store and analyze the data. DBMS also allows users to add or manipulate data according to his will or the requirement. Database, DBMS and the application in association with these two are the subsets of Data System. People also use the term ‘database’ to refer to any of the subsets of the Data System.

DBMS has a group of applications which help the user to manipulate the Database. It additionally helps even the third party to store or retrieve data, with required permission, of course.

Examples of DBMS include MySQL, Oracle etc.

How DBMS helps users

DBMS allows the user to perform numerous tasks with the Database. Some are:

  1. Define data: It helps the user to create, modify or even remove the definition that defines the organization of data in the concerned Database.
  2. Retrieve data: Users can retrieve data or information from the databases with the help of DBMS. The user can then use the retrieved data in various applications.
  3. Update data: Users can modify or update the given data from the Database. They can also add or delete some particular data according to their will. All these are made possible with the help of DBMS.
  4. Administration of data: The DBMS helps the user to monitor how other users are using the provided data in the Database. The user can also enforce security measures to make sure the data is safe. DBMS also helps users to save data from corruption or failure, which may result in the loss of data.

Data Definition Language

Data Definition Language is also known as DDL. This application of DBMS helps the user to modify the Database in the following ways-

  1. Create a data or a database
  2. Alter the existing structure in the Database
  3. Delete or remove objects in the Database
  4. Add comments in specific areas or to the data dictionary
  5. Rename an object or data file

Data Manipulation Language

Data Manipulation Language is also known as DML. This application of DBMS allows the user to make changes in the Database. DML enables the user to perform the following tasks:

  1. Retrieve data from the Database
  2. Update the existing data in the Database
  3. Insert new data in the Database
  4. Delete all / specific records from the Database

An Example of a DBMS

In today’s world, it is hard to find a platform without DBMS. Almost all the platforms have their own DBMS and let us take the example of DBMS in a university. The Database of a university is organized in the following way:

  1. The student file stores all the file of all the students enrolled in the university
  2. The grading or performance file contains grades obtained by students in various courses
  3. The course file contains data of all the courses taught in multiple disciplines within the university
  4. The colleges file stores data related to its constituent and affiliated colleges.
  5. The faculty file contains data related to all the faculty who are employed by the university.
  6. The administration file contains data related to all the admin workers, and various facilities provided by the universities like canteens, sports ground etc.

Application of Database Management System

  1. Banking: Database Management System is used in the banking sector to store data regarding personal information of various customers, their bank balance, transactions etc. The DBMS also keeps track of the total balance in the bank, the loan payments and load retrieval system.
  2. Telecommunication: DBMS is used in the telecommunication sector to store data regarding personal information of various customers, their call history, account balance, different plans. The DBMS also keeps track of the internet data used by the user as well as the plan validity.
  3. Universities: Details regarding various students, faculty, affiliated colleges etc. are stored in DBMS in Universities.
  4. Airlines/Railways: Details regarding schedules of various aeroplanes and trains. DBMS also keeps track of the staff members and other employees, along with their performance data, etc. DBMS maintains the record of all the reservations made by different customers or travellers.
  5. HR management: Keeps track of all the employees and their performance in the office, the vacancy and recruitment plans, payments or salary etc.

Types of DBMS

Hierarchical Databases

Hierarchical Database is one of the first databases made for a computer network. IBM published it in the early 1960s. Here, the data is stored under parent-children relationship nodes. The records generally contain the data of both- parent and children. Hierarchical Database has a tree-like structure where each record is attached with a link. In order to retrieve data, the user will have to transverse each tree until he finds the desired data.

Hierarchical Database is the simplest database type but is inflexible because of parent-child and one-to-many relationships.

One of the most significant advantages of the Hierarchical Database is that it is two-edged, and one can manipulate or alter the information quickly because of its tree-like structure. To talk about its disadvantage, it is very difficult to add a record or data; one needs to alter the whole Database for this purpose.

Today, the Hierarchical Database is used in baking and telecommunication sector where it helps to build better performance and manage various applications in the industry.

Famous examples of Hierarchical databases are IBM Information Management System (IMS) and Windows Registry.

Network Databases

It was Charles Backman, who invented the Network Database. It was published by a company named as Network BBMS, and it uses network structure to develop a relationship between two different entries. Network Database is generally used for large network computers. It is similar to the hierarchical database, with the only significant difference is that one node can have more than one relation. Here, the parent is called ‘occupier’, and the children are called ‘members’. The data in the Network Database are organized as many-to-many relationships.

Some popular examples of Network Database are the Integrated Data Store (IDS), Integrated Data Management System (IDMS) and Raima Database Manager.

Relational Databases (RDB)

Relational Databases are the most popular databases. Here, the relationship between the data is stored in the form of rows and columns. Here, rows represent records and columns represent attributes.

In Relational Database, every individual field represents a data value which is shown represented in its row or column. One needs Structured Query Language (SQL) in order to query the relational database. SQL includes various operations like insert / delete / manipulate / search the records

A relational database can also illustrate the relationship between two or more than two tables. This is what makes Relational Database a popular choice. Here, every row has a unique key field, and each key field is used to connect different tables to one another. Another speciality of the Relational Database is that it is easy to use. Anyone can use a Relational Database without much technical knowledge. One can easily modify entries without changing the entire Database.

Famous examples of Relational Database include Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, SQLite.

Object-Oriented Databases

Object-Oriented Database was published in the 1980s. It deals with the functionality of Object Oriented program and increases the semantics of high-level programming languages like Java and C++. Object-Oriented Databases require advanced programming language skills to operate. But, the good thing about Object Oriented database is that the applications require less code and use more natural data modelling. It’s code passes are much easier to maintain than other databases.

Every Object in an Object-Oriented database has two elements: piece of data (e.g. sound, audio, video, graph) and an instruction or software program known as ‘methods’.

Popular examples of Object-Oriented Database are TORNADO, PoetJADE, and Informix.

Graph Database

Graph Database

Graph Database is a NoSQL database which uses various graphical structures for semantics. The data in such databases are stored in the form of edge, nodes and properties. Here,

  • Node is comparable to the record
  • Edge is the link between two nodes
  • Properties are the additional information which is added to nodes.

Popular examples of Graph Database are Azure Cosmos Database, SAP HANA, Sparksee, Oracle Spatial and Graph.

Advantages of DBMS

  1. The data sharing because of DBMS improves data sharing experience significantly. Now the users can have better access to more and even higher managed data, thanks to the environment created by DBMS.  This helps users to respond quickly in case of any changes in their environment. This is the main advantage of DBMS.
  2. DBMS provides some frameworks which ensure that the data is safe and the privacy is maintained by the owner. The risk of data security is always high when an increased number of users access the data. This is why the owners of various DBMS invest a lot of money and efforts to ensure data security.
  3. Since the establishment of DBMS, the decision making of various institutions has improved significantly. This is because now they are able to manage the data in a better way. Access to data has also improved significantly. Both of these reasons contribute to better decision making. And the quality of data has also improved over the years, which in turn improved the quality of information.

Disadvantages of DBMS

  1. Database Management System requires a lot of expensive software, hardware and even professionals, primarily to manage and store data. This will add up to an enormous amount of money. Additionally, there will also be costly for training professional and licensing. So all this makeup to a significant cost for the enterprise or the institution. There is also a lot of money involved while converting your data into the database management system.
  2. The enterprise owners or the heads of institutions generally have a lot of tension regarding the security of the data. This is because the DBMS of these institutes are usually accessed by many individuals.
  3. The DBMS vendors generally update their products and applications frequently by adding new features. The DBMS users are forced to update their system. This update costs a tremendous amount of money. Additionally, there is the cost for training the professionals to use the DBMS.
  4. Databases have become very complex to use for non-technical people these days. Because of this, it has become imperative to hire a professional who has a complete understanding of how to use this data and how to retrieve it. Lack of knowledge can also lead to data loss which can be catastrophic for the institution or the enterprise.
  5. DBMS is basically designed for large enterprises and institutions. The DBMS does not give a proper performance for the small institutions. As a result, many applications will not run as efficiently as they should. Hence, it is generally not advisable to use DBMS for small firms. Performance of a database management system is an essential factor, and the users and customers should not ignore it.

Top Database Management Systems

  1. Oracle: Oracle is easily the best DBMS provider. Oracle is in the business of making and selling DBMS since 1979. It thus becomes one of the most popular DBMS makers across the world. One of the best features of Oracle is that it has now included cloud storage feature in its latest release that is 12c. Now the enterprises and the institutions can store even more data! However, Oracle is quite complicated to use, and it is advisable to invest in some training to know how to get the best out of such DBMS.
  2. Microsoft SQL Server: Microsoft was pretty late in joining the group of big companies which vendor the DBMS. However, Microsoft SQL Server has quickly gained popularity and is one of the most popular DBMS in the world. Versions like Server 2008, 2012 and 2014 are still widely used despite the release of Server 2016 version. The question is, why Microsoft is so prevalent in DBMS too? Well, there can be a variety of answers, but the most popular one is that Microsoft combines its other popular applications such as Word, Excel and SharePoint with the DBMS. This makes working in DBMS more comfortable!
  3. MySQL: MySQL is an open-source DBMS software which can be considered as an alternative to Microsoft SQL Server. MySQL is used primarily for e-commerce websites or social networking sites. Popular sites and companies using MySQL are Adobe, Google, Facebook etc.

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