Using a DBMS to manage data has many advantages:
Data independence: Application programs should be as independent as possible from details of data representation and storage. The DBMS can provide an abstract view of the data to insulate application code from such details.
Efficient data access: A DBMS utilizes a variety of sophisticated techniques to store and retrieve data efficiently. This feature is especially important if the data is stored on external storage devices.
Data integrity and security: If data is always accessed through the DBMS, the DBMS can enforce integrity constraints on the data. For example, before inserting salary information for an employee, the DBMS can check that the department budget is not exceeded. Also, the DBMS can enforce access controls that govern what data is visible to different classes of users.
Data administration: When several users share the data, centralizing the administration of data can offer significant improvements. Experienced professionals who understand the nature of the data being managed, and how different groups of users use it, can be responsible for organizing the data representation to minimize redundancy and fine-tuning the storage of the data to make retrieval efficient.
Concurrent access and crash recovery: A DBMS schedules concurrent accesses to the data in such a manner that users can think of the data as being accessed by only one user at a time. Further, the DBMS protects users from the effects of system failures.
Reduced application development time: Clearly, the DBMS supports many important functions that are common to many applications accessing data stored in the DBMS. This, in conjunction with the high-level interface to the data, facilitates quick development of applications. Such applications are also likely to be more robust than applications developed from scratch because many important tasks are handled by the DBMS instead of being implemented by the application. Given all these advantages, is there ever a reason not to use a DBMS? A DBMS is a complex piece of software, optimized for certain kinds of workloads (e.g., answering complex queries or handling many concurrent requests), and its performance may not be adequate for certain specialized applications. Examples include applications with tight real-time constraints or applications with just a few well-designed critical operations for which efficient custom code must be written. Another reason for not using a DBMS is that an application may need to manipulate the data in ways not supported by the query language. In such a situation, the abstract view of the data presented by the DBMS does not match the application’s needs, and actually gets in the way. As an example, relational databases do not support flexible analysis of text data (although vendors are now extending their products in this direction). If specialized performance or data manipulation requirements are central to an application, the application may choose not to use a DBMS, especially if the added benefits of a DBMS (e.g., flexible querying, security, concurrent access, and crash recovery) are not required. In most situations calling for large-scale data management, however, DBMSs have become an indispensable tool.
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