A data model is a conceptual representation of the data structures that are required by a database. The data structures include the data objects, the associations between data objects, and the rules which govern operations on the objects. As the name implies, the data model focuses on what data is required and how it should be organized rather than what operations will be performed on the data. To use a common analogy, the data model is equivalent to an architect’s building plans. A data model is independent of hardware or software constraints. Rather than try to represent the data as a database would see it, the data model focuses on representing the data as the user sees it in the “real world”. It serves as a bridge between the concepts that make up real-world events and processes and the physical representation of those concepts in a database.
There are two major methodologies used to create a data model: the Entity-Relationship (ER) approach and the Object Model.