What Is the Role of the Database Management System in Information Systems?

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In information systems, a database management system (DBMS) has an important role as keeper of a business’s everyday records. A database gives structure to business information. It allows for rapid creation, updating and retrieval of business records. And it provides sophisticated security — granting access only to users possessing the right password.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

A Database Management System efficiently organizes company data. Database software permits rapid creation, updating and retrieval of business records, providing timely information to stakeholders.

What Is a Database?

A DBMS consists of two main components: files that contain data and the software that manages the files. The data might be any business-related information, such as customers, products and employees. The database also keeps data about the data, such as the size of the customer’s name and the relationships between the customers and sales orders. The software receives commands sent to it by a client computer, checks the commands for security and sends the results to the client. Clients have no direct access to the data; all access passes through the DBMS software.

Importance of a Database in Information Technology

The role of a DBMS is to act as a storehouse of a company’s payroll, orders, receivables and other important records. It is crucial to the normal functioning of a business; if the company lost its database because of a computer failure or other problem, it might cripple business operations.

Anatomy of a Database

A typical database consists of tables, data elements (sometimes called “fields”), programming code and other components. Tables define useful groups of information, such as customers, parts, employees, warehouses and so on. The elements that make up the tables include phone numbers, names, dates, dollar amounts and other specific data.

The database has a master catalog, called a schema, that describes all the tables and elements it contains. A database may also contain snippets of code used to carry out important tasks, such as listing all customers sorted by name or removing duplicate part numbers.

Quick Data, Smart Decisions

A modern DBMS not only stores data but it also allows flexible and rapid access to the data. A sales manager can, for example, request a report on Ohio customers who bought particular items in December. Ad-hoc reports like this can be created in minutes, providing management with useful information needed to make time-critical decisions.

Apps, Database and You

In a typical business scenario, you and your colleagues use various applications, such as accounting programs, smartphone apps and online reports. You interact with the apps, and the apps interact with the database, sending it requests to create, modify and retrieve data that the app processes, formats and displays. IT staff also have their own utility apps to create and fine-tune databases.

Under Lock and Key

Most databases offer several levels of security. At the top level, an entire database can be protected with a password. Within the database, individual tables can have their own password, so some users can access the customer table, for example, but not the sales table. Within tables, individual elements can also have their own security. In an employee table, the names and departments might be available to all employees, for example, but the salary might be restricted to human resources staff only.

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About the Author

Chicago native John Papiewski has many years' experience in IT consulting, and has worked with businesses including finance, real estate, distribution and publishing. His articles have appeared in various outlets including azcentral.com and seattlepi.com. Please, no workplace calls/emails!

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  • computers image by Olga Chernetskaya from Fotolia.com