Databases have diverse types: RDBMS (structured with SQL), NoSQL (flexible for unstructured data), Hierarchical (tree-like structure), Network (complex data relationships), and OODBMS (suited for complex structures). Choice depends on data management and application needs. Learn about each of Database types in detail.
Databases are integral to modern computing, storing and organizing vast amounts of data across various applications. Various databases have been developed over the years, each with unique features and advantages to managing this data. From the traditionally hierarchical and network databases to the more modern relational and object-oriented databases, understanding the different types of Databases is crucial for anyone working with data in the digital age.
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This article explains the four main types of databases, their strengths and weaknesses, and the applications they are most suitable for. Let’s understand.
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Table of Content
- What is a Relational database?
- What is an Object-oriented Database?
- What is a Hierarchical Database?
- What is a Network Database?
- What is NoSQL Database?
What is Relational Database?
A relational database is a type of database that organizes data into one or more tables, each consisting of rows and columns. In a relational database, data is structured for efficient storage, retrieval, and manipulation of information.
The tables in a relational database are related based on common fields or keys. For example, in a database for a store, the customer table might have a common field with the order table, linking each order to the customer who placed it.
Relational databases use a structured query language (SQL) to access and manipulate data. SQL allows users to insert, update, delete, and retrieve data from the database.
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Relational databases are widely used in applications such as financial systems, inventory management, and customer relationship management. Because of their ability to efficiently store and retrieve large amounts of data while maintaining data integrity and consistency.
What is an Object-oriented Database?
Object-oriented is another type of database available among the various types of databases. An object-oriented database (OODB) is a type of database management system (DBMS). It stores data in the form of objects rather than in tables like relational databases. In an OODB, each object is an instance of a class, which defines the attributes and behaviours of that object.
The use of objects allows for more complex data structures and relationships that can be easily modelled in a relational database. For example, an object in an OODB can have attributes that are themselves objects, allowing for creating more complex data structures.
In addition, OODBs can support complex relationships between objects, such as inheritance and polymorphism. It allows for more flexible and extensible data models.
However, OODBs are less widely used than relational databases due to their complexity and the need for a standard query language. They are primarily used in specialized applications such as computer-aided design, multimedia, and scientific research.
What is a Hierarchical Database?
A hierarchical database is a database management system (DBMS) where we organize data in a tree-like structure with a single root, branches, and leaves. In a hierarchical database, each record has a parent-child relationship. Each parent can have multiple children, but each child can have only one parent.
Using a hierarchical database, data is accessed by following a hierarchical path, starting at the root and proceeding downward. This makes hierarchical databases best suited for applications requiring fast and efficient data retrieval with a fixed, predefined structure.
During the early days of computing, hierarchical databases were popular, especially in mainframe environments, for managing large amounts of data in applications such as banking and accounting. Relational databases, which are more flexible and can handle more complex data structures, have largely replaced hierarchical databases.
What is a Network Database?
A network database is a database management system (DBMS) that stores data in a network-like structure. Using pointers or links, data in a network database are organized as a collection of records.
Child records in a network database can have multiple parents. Unlike records in hierarchical databases, which can only have one parent per child.
This allows for more flexible and complex data structures than hierarchical databases.
In a network database, we access data through a navigational model. The records are accessed by following the links or pointers between related records. This makes it the best fit for complex data structures and relationships, such as engineering and scientific applications.
Network databases were popular in the 1970s and 1980s but have largely been replaced by relational databases. They are easier to use and have more standardized query languages. However, some specialized applications, such as computer-aided design and engineering, still use network databases.
What is NoSQL Database?
NoSQL database, also known as a “non-relational” database, is a type of database that stores and retrieves data in a way that is different from traditional relational databases. Unlike relational databases, NoSQL databases are not based on tables with strict schemas and relationships between them. Instead, NoSQL databases use various data models, such as document-oriented, key-value, graph-based, or column-oriented, to store and manage data.
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Amongst various types of databases, a NoSQL database is another type that requires high scalability, performance, and flexibility, such as web applications, mobile apps, or big data analytics. They are also suitable for handling unstructured, semi-structured, or rapidly changing data that cannot be easily modelled in a traditional relational database.
Some popular NoSQL databases include MongoDB, Cassandra, Redis, Amazon DynamoDB, and Apache HBase. Each of these databases has its own strengths and weaknesses, and choosing the right database depends on the application’s specific requirements.
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Databases have diverse types tailored for specific data management challenges. RDBMS for structured data, NoSQL for flexibility, Hierarchical for hierarchies, Network for complex relationships, and OODBMS for intricate structures. Careful consideration of the database type optimizes overall performance, enabling successful data-driven decision-making.
What are the different types of DBMS available?
There are mainly four types of DBMS: Relational, NoSQL, Hierarchical, and Object-Oriented DBMS, each catering to specific data management requirements.
What is a Relational DBMS (RDBMS)?
RDBMS organizes data into tables with rows and columns, utilizing SQL (Structured Query Language) for data manipulation. It ensures data integrity through constraints and relationships.
How does NoSQL DBMS differ from Relational DBMS?
Unlike RDBMS, NoSQL databases handle unstructured or semi-structured data and do not rely on fixed schemas. They are more flexible, scalable, and suitable for big data applications.
What is a Hierarchical DBMS?
Hierarchical DBMS arranges data in a tree-like structure, with parent-child relationships. It is commonly used in mainframe systems and is efficient for one-to-many relationships.
How does an Object-Oriented DBMS (OODBMS) work?
OODBMS stores data as objects, similar to object-oriented programming. It allows complex data types and supports inheritance, making it ideal for object-oriented applications.
What is the full form of DBMS?
Full form of DBMS is Database Management System.