Databases are of a broader range now, from single-user databases to those for the mainframe computing systems with thousands of users simultaneously accessing the same. Primarily, database applications can be categorized into four major divisions. Many businesses are also now choosing to monitor internet activity where they have remote staff so that they can check on their activity so have a look into that if you also have concerns about the remote staff.Let us discuss the same from the simplest of the range of database applications to the most complex
Range of database applications
Personal databases: Personal databases are meant to support only one user who works on a standalone desktop computer or laptop, or smartphone. For example, you may take a company which has some salespeople who call the customers. Each salesperson may have a laptop or smartphone which carries a simple database application with customer information and updates about each customer being followed up. Some of the key considerations to make while developing a personal database include:
- Is it good to purchase a personal database application from a vendor or to develop it in-house?
- If the application is built internally, should it be developed by the end-user or the information systems professionals?
- What types of data are required by the end-user, and how the database needed to be designed?
- What is the commercial DBMS product to be used for building this application?
- Who will be responsible for the data accuracy in a personal database?
Workgroup databases: These databases are meant for smaller workgroups working on the same project by sharing resources. A small workgroup may consist of 25 or fewer people. These individuals may need to collaborate to work on the same project as developing a software application. Workgroup databases are designed to support the collaborative efforts of such smaller groups.
Workgroup members are connected with a LAN, and each member will be accessing a desktop or laptop to work on within this local network. Database for this workgroup is centrally stored in the DBMS server. So, each member will have access to this shared data, and different privileges will be assigned to the users based on their need to read, write, edit, or delete the data files.
While setting up the workgroup databases, you need to answer similar questions applicable to the personal databases. In addition to those, you need to address the following questions too while dealing with workgroup databases.
- How can the database design by optimized for a large set of informational requirements by the group members?
- How do different members use the workgroup database simultaneously without tampering with the data integrity?
- Which database operations needed to be performed at the individual workstations, and what changes will be reflected on the server due to these actions?
Department databases: Like its literal meaning, a department is a unit within an organization. You can consider various functional units as personnel, HR, marketing, accounting, manufacturing, etc., as various departments. Department can be larger than the workgroups we discussed above and may contain 25 to 100 people. Department databases are meant to support various activities and functions of the department. Say, for example, a personnel database is meant to track employees’ details as their skills, job assignments, and tasks, etc.
Along with the above questions, as in the case of personal and workgroup databases, there are additional questions to be addressed in case of designing a department database as below:
- How can the database and related environment be designed to ensure appropriate performance for a larger number of users?
- How can you ensure appropriate security to protect from unauthorized access or uncontrolled distribution of most sensitive data in the DB?
- What types of databases and development tools can be used in a complex departmental environment?
- Whether the other departments also maintain the same data types, and how data consistency, redundancy, and integrability can be managed?
Enterprise databases: Enterprise DB is the one to handle the entire organizational data. These databases can support enterprise-wide operations, and analytical tools used on such data can also help in decision making. Enterprise database is the most important type of database. It is also called a data warehouse, which collects and stores all enterprise data. Data warehouses are integrated decision support DBs from which content is derived from various operational databases. An enterprise data warehouse is the range of all database applications and database system applications.
Considering a typical database like a healthcare organization that consists of a group of medical specialities, the enterprise-wide warehouse will be split further into separate departmental databases. These databases will contain data regarding different physicians, patients, services, and healthcare operations, etc. Some of the major questions which needed to be considered in terms of enterprise database are as below.
- How the data to be distributed among different locations in the enterprise database structure?
- How can the organization develop and maintain the standards related to the data names and various formats?
Applications of database systems
Databases are now very commonly used. Some of the most common applications of databases are as follows:
Banking and finance: For maintaining and retrieving customer information, user accounts, loan details, bank transaction details, etc.
Airlines: Databases are used for flight reservations for storing schedule information.
Education: Universities to store the information of students, academic courses, registrations, and exam results and grades, etc.
Telecommunication: To keep the call records, bills, maintaining the balance on prepaid accounts, information about the communication networks, etc.
Sales and marketing: For storing customer information, purchase details, and customer queries and support information.
Online Retailing: For the sales-related data to store online order tracking, generating recommendations, and maintenance of online product information.
Manufacturing: To manage the supply chain and track the production items in inventory and stocks in warehouses.
Human Resources Management: To maintain the information about employees, payrolls, taxes, other benefits, paychecks, etc.
Every organization, irrespective of the size and industry, needs databases of various types now. So, it is important to design, plan, and implement an appropriate database, which will help organizations perform better and effectively use their historical data for reference, analytics, and decision making.