Much like messy papers on a desk, data needs to be organized. An important piece of paper serves no purpose if it cannot be found when it is needed. Likewise, if data is not organized, it holds little value. Important data, whether analog or digital, needs to be highly accessible.
A database is an advanced method of storing and organizing data so it can be easily retrieved. Databases have been a standard in computing since the 1970s. The original databases, called flat file systems (FFS), were little more than a consistent way of storing records in a digital file.
As needs for data handling expanded, more complex database systems were developed. Relation Database Management Systems (RDBMS) hit the market and their popularity exploded. These systems worked by enabling vast amounts of data to be organized and stored in tables. The data could be rapidly manipulated by creating relationships between different tables. Relational database systems became
the standard in database technology for years, but standards eventually change.
The new products are still geared toward handling large volumes of complex data, but now some of the products are middleware oriented. Enabling these new products is an extended version of relational database technology called an object relational database management system (ORDBMS).
Object-oriented databases take the concept of relational databases to a more advanced level. Unlike relational databases, object databases take the focus away from
tables and place it on object-oriented programming instead. This is an attempt to make the interaction with large-scale databases less specialized and more straightforward
for the average programmer.
Databases are now widely used and have become a commodity. As a result, many traditional database vendors are moving away from selling database engines as their
primary product. Vendors are now exploring other areas of business that surround data storage and retrieval. This includes multimedia types (text, image, audio, and video), or any data type a user may wish to define. These are extensions from the very limited, simple, traditional data supported in the mainstream relational database products.
Relational databases have been employed to automate most of the obvious backoffice and, more recently, front-office applications for today’s enterprises. Any competitive
advantages derived from that automation activity are diminishing. To find other information technologies to leverage for competitive advantage, organizations are turning to the Internet/intranet and to a richer set of data types.
To keep pace with their customers’ needs, almost all relational database vendors are scrambling to extend the capabilities of their product lines to support Internet enabled
applications and the multimedia data types typically found on the Web. The World Wide Web promises global access from a “universal client.” Why not then a universal database or server? Well, this dream realized would certainly make Ellison
a happier and even wealthier man. I guess you could say it would have the same effect as landing a big right hook on Bill Gate’s face.
Applications are now more frequently implemented in object-oriented or objectbased architectures. As a result, application developers have high-performance storage
mechanisms that are fully compatible with the entire object-oriented model. This forces the need for object database management systems as they can provide
efficient storage for object-oriented applications. In short, the evolution of software development is being traced by the evolution of database systems. As these worlds continue to merge, good data security will rely on a working knowledge of the underlying database systems.
The above information is the start of a chapter in "Network Security Illustrated," published by McGraw-Hill and available from amazon.com, as well as your local bookstore. The book goes into much greater depth on this topic. To learn more about the book and what it covers, click here.
Below, you'll find links to online resources that supplement this portion of the book.