Started off the semester for Database Technologies with a lecture by Manoj Kathpalia. Although the lecture was slightly unstructured we got through the admin and some basics about the history, uses and concepts of databases. Interesting points were on the evolution of databases from strings to filing cabinets to file based programs to database management systems DBMSs and the current state of relational DBMSs. I was suprised to find that we would be doing most of our coursework on Oracle systems as MySQL or another open source solution would provide the same learning environment but with greater opportunities for extended self learning.

We spent a good deal of time discussing why database processing was advantageous with the key points being:

  • Extracting information from data (for decision making)
  • Sharing of data
  • Standards
  • Controlled redundancy
  • Integrity control
  • Security
  • Economies of scale
  • Data independence

Each of these points has a number of more practical benefits for organisations.

Some disadvantages of databases primarily as cost and complexity were also raised. Although I have been using mySQL databases for some time I was not aware of the ANSI/SPARC architecture which we covered next which defined the External, Conceptual and Internal levels of modern database structure.

Pearl of the week:

The Database industry is the second largest of the IT sector, topped only by Operating systems, with over US$15 billion per year of revenues. MySQL was also not mentioned in the top DBMSs (a point that will surely change assuming Oracles purchase of Sun does not derail the c0mmunity driven project).

It will be nice to get some theoretical understanding to back up the practical experience I have had with databases, I am sure the theoretical understanding will have large influence on the way I think about and execute database design and management in the future.