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What is Database Management?

While it might sound self-explanatory, database management is more than just moving data from one place to another.

There are additional considerations around topics like storage, data security, structures for the data in the database, assessing database performance, and other best practices.

How will a team engage with data? How will an end user access it? Each of these things is impacted by the way databases or database systems are managed.

What is database management?

Database management is the set of business processes and technologies that govern the distribution, configuration, and inter-relationship of database systems (or database management systems).

The work typically handled by a database administrator (DBA) is almost entirely database management: organization, security, compliance, and performance management of one or more databases throughout the data lifecycle.

Data is typically organized in one of the following ways:

  • Centralized

    • All data is in one central, shared database

  • Distributed

    • There is one shared logical data system, distributed among multiple databases

  • Federated

    • There are multiple, diverse databases each with their own organization
      • Loose Federation: schemas are per-database
      • Tight Federation: there is one master schema

Choosing from among these options comes down to making the right tradeoffs for the data.

centralized organizational strategy for your database will mean only one system to maintain, with one schema, and one access point: it's easy to manage, but expensive to scale up, a single point of failure, and liable to become a performance bottleneck.

Distributing your data across multiple databases gives more manageable scaling and can help with redundancy (depending on how you distribute your data) in exchange for a fair amount more management complexity.

Federated systems enable individual products to iterate independently from each other, which can be a valuable feature for increasing agility, but runs the risk of combining the worst parts of centralized and distributed systems: management complexity, and unknown scaling costs.

Your data's organization impacts other facets like security, compliance, and performance measurement and tuning. It's easier to secure one central database than it is to secure distributed setups (while still enabling collaboration), and much easier than with a federated strategy. The same is true of performance management: simpler systems are easier to speed up, but harder to scale out.

What is database management used for?

Database management is used to design and maintain database systems (or database management systems) that perform to the specifications required.

As any product or organization grows in scale and the amount of data increases, data management becomes an increasingly important concern, and with it, the overall database structure, architecture, processes, and access patterns that enable growth and change.

What are database management tools?

Database management tools are pieces of software that allow you to implement and/or automate your database management decisions. Given the complexity of implementing some database management strategies, it is always worth looking into whether there are tools that can accomplish what you need.

Why are database management systems important?

The data in the database is just one piece of the puzzle; it's important to also consider the larger whole. The best database management strategy will inform data access, data security, database performance, and so much more.

The end result? Better functionality for database administrators and a better experience for the end user. And those improvements are crucial when it comes to database management — at any level.

Want to learn more? Read about Database Types and Database Management Systems.

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