When it comes to storing large amounts of data, you inevitably come across the term database. But what exactly are databases and what are they used for by companies? We explain what you need to know about databases.


When it comes to storing large amounts of data, one inevitably comes across the term database. But what exactly are databases and what are they used for by companies? We explain what you should know about databases.

What is a database?

A database is an electronic storage and management system for keeping information. The aim is to store data long-term and error-free and to make it available to users in a structured form. The information stored in a database system (DBS) is often organized according to logical structures so that users can easily retrieve the data they need.

Structure of a database system

A database system consists for the most part of two elements:

Database Management System (DBMS): Software that enables the admini­strative management of the database. This can be used, for example, to manage usage rights and security aspects.

Database: Stores the information in the form of records.

Usage of databases

As a result of ever new digital technologies, companies today have a great>variety of data at their disposal. If this information is used optimally, business processes and costs can be optimized. It is therefore worthwhile for companies to create databases in order to store and provide information efficiently.

Database systems can be used for various application purposes. For example, in the context of cloud computing and  business intelligence. But databases are also used in merchandise management systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Finally, many websites are also based on a database: most content management systems store content in databases.

A man sits in front of a laptop and selects a data folder from a hologram in the air with his left pointing finger, which is supposed to simulate database access.

Which forms of databases are there?

But not all databases are the same. Thus, there are different forms of databases depending on the use case.

Relational databases
Is the most commonly used type of database. Here, structured data sets are stored in tabular form. In this way, data can be easily retrieved and reordered. The Structured Query Language (SQL) programming language is used for relational databases.
NoSQL databases
Instead of structured data, unstructured data can be stored with this system. This is particularly relevant for Big Data, because this data often comes from hetero­geneous sources and can only be stored in structured form with great effort.
Data Warehouse
Data Warehouse is a database system that is optimized for speed. It is therefore suitable for applications where fast data retrieval is important. Data warehouses are used, for example, in conjunction with business intelligence software.
Cloud databases
If data is stored in a private, public or  Hybrid Cloud, this is known as a cloud database. Data is accessed via the Internet. Cloud databases can also be Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS). In this case, the cloud provider takes over the admini­strative tasks related to the database.
Distributed databases
In this form of database, the data is not stored in a single location, but distributed across multiple computers. These can be in the same network, but also in different locations.

Combinations of the different database types are quite common: Cloud databases can also be relational, for example, or based on NoSQL technology.