Oz Blog News Commentary

Databases are like potplants

July 7, 2019 - 10:21 -- Admin

Databases are the bees
knees for storing data to which you refer on a regular basis, provided those data
have a common arrangement or structure. They used to be monolithic structures
basically like a giant spreadsheet for all your stuff. Then along came relational
databases. These decreased the possibility of error by only requiring one entry
for a particular item: if you have to enter it only once there would be less
probability of mistyping it.

The relational
database was invented by an E.F. Codd, a young programmer at IBM. He wrote a
paper entitled ‘A relational model of data for large shared data banks’. He proposed
shifting from storing data in hierarchical or navigational structures to
organising data in table containing rows and columns. Each row is called a
record and contains a unique instance of data for the categories defined by the
columns. Each table has a unique primary key which identifies the information
in a table. The relationship between tables can then be set via the use of
foreign keys – a field in a table that links to the primary key of another table.1,2

That is all very well,
but however databases are structured, they are like pot plants. They need constant
care and attention. Many organisations do not understand that. What often happens
is that someone comes up with an idea for a compilation of data that may be useful
in dealing with a particular requirement. So, the database is constructed and
the data inserted into the structure. As with most things like this, over time,
requirements will change and that could mean the data structure will have to be
changed and more data will need to be added to keep it up to date. If it is
not, it fades into obscurity and irrelevance. A former colleague hilariously
put it this way: there are databases, which are constantly used and updated;
there are data repositories, which are used but not updated; and lastly there
are data mortuaries, which are never used nor updated. The latter are where
data goes to die.



The post Databases are like potplants appeared first on THE BLOT REPORT.