What is a Database Management System (DBMS)?

Database management systems allow us to organize our data to easily find the information we need when we need it, even if the data doesn’t have any sort of order on its own. These systems are essential tools in today’s technological world, powering large and small businesses alike with their ability to store data and retrieve it when needed.

What is a DBMS?

A database management system (DBMS) is software that provides methods to create, manage, and access a large volume of data.  These applications help automate processes such as adding new entries, modifying existing entries, and deleting entries when necessary. 

Database management systems also serve to help users find information more quickly and efficiently. Users no longer need to spend time looking through hundreds of documents one at a time—they can now see what they’re looking for with just a few clicks.

Read more on Datamation: Current Database Trends & Applications

How does a database management system work?

The primary function of a database management system is to provide users with access to stored data. Therefore, a DBMS must allow users to add new information, modify existing information, and delete old data. 

In addition, a DBMS must ensure that only authorized users have access to any given piece of information. For a DBMS to perform these functions, it needs structure and organization that allows users to retrieve specific types of data based on certain criteria. 

For example, if users wanted all accounts associated with customers who live in New York City, they could simply enter “New York” into a search field and return all matching records from the table. Once a database has been organized according to the organization’s specific needs, developers can begin creating applications around it. 

What are the basic concepts and features of DBMS?

The fundamental concepts and features of a DBMS include data models, query languages, file organization and indexing, normalization, candidate keys, and key fields.

Data models

A data model is an abstract representation of a database system. It is used to design and implement a database or define its schema—the structure and organization of how data is physically stored. 

Data models are designed using a methodology called conceptual modeling. However, most data models are based on at least one formal model, such as entity-relationship modeling. 

Query languages

Just as programming languages are used to create software applications, DBMSs have their own specific languages which database administrators use to create databases. They’re generally called query languages, and they allow users to search and manipulate data stored in databases. The most commonly used query language is structured query language (SQL). 

SQL is the standard language for database management and there are five widely used SQL sub-languages, they include:

  • Data definition language (DDL)
  • Data manipulation language (DML)
  • Data control language (DCL)
  • Transaction control language (TCL)
  • Data query language (DQL) 

Other query languages include NoSQL and XQuery. Each query language has its own syntax and capabilities, but they all follow similar principles. Each allows you to retrieve data from a database table or view, modify it if necessary, add new records to an existing table or view, and remove unwanted records. 

File organization and indexing

Database file organization is required for better storage space utilization, reduction in access time, and faster retrieval. 

The two levels of database files are index files and data files. Index files contain indexing structures that define data locations for faster retrieval when searching for specific records within a table structure. Indexing structures in DBMS include B-tree and other types of balanced trees, hash tables, bitmaps, etc. Data files store both fixed-length records and variable-length records.


Normalization is a process that eliminates redundant data and ensures that relationships between different records in a database make sense. Normalizing data in a database involves breaking down related tables into multiple tables based on business rules. Breaking up related tables into separate entities allows us to store data in more efficient ways while also helping to ensure consistency across multiple tables. This separation also makes updates easier and more reliable.

Normalization is an important part of designing database schemas because it helps to prevent data redundancy and avoidable issues like database corruption. Additionally, it helps make databases easier to update and improves query performance.

Candidate key

In a Relational database, the candidate key is a condition for defining a relationship between two or more tables. The candidate keys must be included in each table that refers to them. A candidate key is generally composed of unique attributes and contains values that never change during data storage. They help define groups. 

Key fields

A key field or primary key is a unique identifier for each row in a database table. A table can only have one, and a primary key must be unique across all tables and views. Primary keys are sometimes called natural keys or auto-incrementing fields. The value in a primary key is automatically incremented by 1 for every new record added to that table. 

Types of DBMS models

The most common types of database management systems include relational, distributed, hierarchical, client-server, and network models.

Relational model

The relational database management system (RDBMS) is a database model that organizes data in tables. Each table consists of rows and columns with cells containing data items, also called fields. 

An RDBMS provides facilities for defining, storing, retrieving, and modifying structured information. Structured data can be stored in multiple ways, such as lists, files, or documents; however, it is often stored within an RDBMS as a collection of interrelated tables. 

Distributed model

​​A distributed database is a collection of logically linked databases that appear to users as a single, integrated database. The information within these individual databases may be physically stored in different locations across a network, but it seems part of one unified whole.  

This allows for greater flexibility and scalability when dealing with large amounts of data. Distributed database management systems allow multiple computers or nodes to access shared data simultaneously, often over a common network. Each node can update its copy of data while other nodes have access to all copies at once.  

Hierarchical model

A hierarchical database is a type of database in which each record has a set of fields and values organized into levels and sub-levels. Hierarchical databases store information by separating it into related groups called sets. 

The highest level, also known as the root, contains all available information. As you move down to lower levels, more specific subsets appear. The number of records at each level reflects the amount of detail about each item. 

Client-server model

A client-server database is a particular model wherein the database resides on a server, and users access it from their workstations. This configuration allows for multiple users to access data simultaneously and means that there are fewer servers for companies to maintain. 

It’s important to note that a client-server database can be centralized or decentralized. Centralized systems have all information stored in one place, while decentralized systems allow different parts of an organization to keep their databases separate.

Network model

A network database model is based on a network data model that allows each record to have multiple parents and multiple child records. Network databases enable users to build a flexible model in which entities can be related in many different ways.

Business benefits of DBMS

A DBMS can help organizations achieve greater efficiency in their operations by more effectively managing data across multiple applications, including different departments within an organization. Database management systems also help companies avoid information redundancy by consolidating various sources of data. The better a company can manage its data, the more easily it can adapt to changing market conditions and make well-informed business decisions. 

Data storage and management are critical aspects of any business operation. Therefore, businesses need effective tools for storing and managing the data they can use across all facets of their organization. With a robust DBMS, companies have more control over how they store, access, share, and secure data; as a result, they benefit from increased organizational productivity while reducing costs related to IT infrastructure maintenance.

Also read: Best Data Modeling Tools

Aminu Abdullahi
Aminu Abdullahi
Aminu Abdullahi is an award-winning public speaker and a passionate writer. He writes to edutain (Educate + Entertain) his reader about Business, Technology, Growth, and everything in between. He is the coauthor of the e-book, The Ultimate Creativity Playbook. Aminu loves to inspire greatness in the people around him through his actions and inactions.

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