What Is a Relational Database Management System? (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 6, 2022

Many organizations use relational database management systems to perform daily operational tasks such as tracking orders or managing inventory levels. These systems typically use the SQL programming language to access and interpret information within the databases. Organizations searching for a more efficient way to interpret and organize company data may benefit from learning about the many uses and benefits of these systems.

In this article, we discuss what a relational database management system is, how they work, different types of systems, the benefits of using them and some tips that may help you optimize your use.

What is a relational database management system?

A relational database management system (RDBMS) is a database that stores information in the form of tables called relations. These tables include numerous rows and columns, often called records and fields. Each record typically contains its own unique ID called a key. An RDBMS may include millions of rows. The columns often consist of one type of data, such as names and numbers, that contain attributes of the records. Most modern businesses, IT systems and other programs often use RDBMSs because they can use the data in relation to other stored datasets.

These databases can also manage complex data and queries, which typically makes them more capable than flat-file and hierarchical databases. A relational database management system can link information in multiple ways. One table record's characteristics may link to another record in a separate table. One record may also link to multiple records in another table. Multiple records may also link to other records in more than one additional table. You may see these link relations through visualizations like widgets on your dashboard.

Related: What Is DBMS? Database Management Systems, Explained

How RDBM systems work

An RDBMS uses the relational database model, which stores information in tables and often makes it easy to add new records and relate records to other records and tables. Each system usually includes varying numbers of tables, and each of these tables contains its own primary key. The primary key identifies each table. Each row within the table includes information for that individual entry, while the columns include information about the specific field. When a system creates a table, it reviews these limitations:

  • Primary keys: This requires unique information with no null values.

  • Foreign keys: This information links at least two tables. A foreign key resides in one table and references the primary key of another table.

  • Not null: This verifies that each record in a table contains no null values, such as empty cells.

  • Check: This verifies the uniqueness and precise conditions of each entry and column.

A system must also confirm the integrity of all data before creating the table. This typically includes numerous tests related to entity, domain, user-defined and referential integrity. These tests verify the uniqueness of all information and identify any duplicate data. Each test may also investigate the specific conditions of data, such as file format, and how the table adheres to user-defined conditions.

Read more: What Is a Relational Model? (With Key Terms and Example)

Types of relational database management systems

Here's a list of some common relational database management systems that many companies use to track their operations:

Oracle

Oracle is one of the first RDBMS software that many medium and large organizations use. This software supports various programming languages and unstructured data. It also functions with other types of storage, such as cloud, PDF and key-value.

MySQL

MySQL is a popular and free open source database that offers functions for structured data. Many organizations use this in conjunction with other web systems. This server-side database also allows users to query the database while receiving a client-side return by using the MySQL client. Enterprises and other large organizations must obtain a license to use this database, but developers can enjoy free access.

Related: SQL vs. MySQL: Understanding the Differences

MariaDB

This database server provides users with structured data by using multiple different platforms and applications such as websites. It often enhances some of MySQL's capabilities by offering a range of additional plugins, storage engines and other applications and database tools. These tools typically allow organizations of varying sizes to use them for a variety of purposes.

SQLite

This free, widely used database uses a self-contained, zero-configuration SQL database engine. Commercial and private organizations may use it for any purpose. SQLite stores the entire database as a cross-platform file on a host device and doesn't use a separate server process. It also has advanced capabilities such as partial indexes and common table expressions.

PostgreSQL

This open-source object-relational database system runs on most operating systems. Its platforms allow users to develop in-house, web and commercial software that use relational database management systems. It manages large scalability and contains a fully relational system catalog in which users may use multiple schemas.

Related: What Is Open-Source Software? (Definition and Examples)

Benefits of using RDBMS

One of the main benefits of using a relational database management system is the relative simplicity and power of the system. Organizations of all sizes and purposes may use these systems to answer any informational need, such as tracking inventory, managing customer information and processing online orders. Here are more benefits you may enjoy while using an RDBMS:

  • Visualization: Sometimes companies may find it easier to understand and execute information when viewing raw data in an organized manner.

  • Security: Storing data in tables can sometimes improve the security of information that appears in the database.

  • Customization: Users can control access and implement barriers that affect the availability of some data to other users.

  • Flexibility: Users can enjoy efficiency by only updating information in one location while the system updates the information in all the other linked locations.

  • Maintenance: The overall structure of the database means that administrators may easily maintain and update information. Automation also helps these administrators perform backups.

Tips for implementing an RDBMS

These tips may help you optimize your use of relational database management systems:

  • Consider your organization's needs. When choosing a relational database management system, you may consider what tasks and abilities you require for your organization. You may evaluate aspects such as data accuracy requirements for information such as financial records, scalability, concurrency, performance and reliability.

  • Centralize your data. Many people improve their ability to track their data by using a centralized point instead of storing data across numerous spreadsheets, other tables and file formats.

  • Collect only what you need. Understand the importance of some data and recognize how and why you need to collect it. This often helps organizations save storage space and reduces excess files or data that the company doesn't require.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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