A database is a set of tables composed of records and fields that hold data. “Different tables contain information about different types of things. Each row in a database table represents one instance of the type of object described in that table. A row is also called a record. The columns in a table are the set of facts that we keep track of about that type of object. A column is also called an attribute” (GMOD). “The number of columns within a single table depends on how many different types/categories of information we need to store within a database, while the number of rows is defined by the quantity of the objects” (NTC Hosting).

“A database management system (DBMS) is a software package designed to define, manipulate, retrieve, and manage data in a database. A DBMS generally manipulates the data itself, the data format, field names, record structure, and file structure. It also defines rules to validate and manipulate this data” (Techopedia). “Several different types of DBMS have been developed [including] hierarchical, network, [and] relational” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). “Relational databases have enjoyed a long run as the database mainstay across a wide variety of businesses, and for good reasons” (SearchDataManagement).

“SQL (Structured Query Language) is a programming language used to communicate with data stored in a relational database management system (RDBMS). SQL syntax is similar to the English language, which makes it relatively easy to write, read, and interpret. (SQL is … pronounced in one of two ways. You can pronounce it by speaking each letter individually like ‘S-Q-L,’ or pronounce it using the word ‘sequel.’)” — Codecademy

“Conventional SQL (i.e. relational) databases are the product of decades of technology evolution, good practice, and real-world stress testing. They are designed for reliable transactions and ad hoc queries, the staples of line of business applications” (Infoworld). “When the era of big data hit, a new kind of database was required. The … driver for NoSQL was the sheer shift in data volumes that the Internet brought” (Datastax). “NoSQL systems store and manage data in ways that allow for high operational speed and great flexibility on the part of the developers. Unlike SQL databases, many NoSQL databases can be scaled horizontally across hundreds or thousands of servers” (Infoworld).

The most popular database management systems include Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and IBM Db2.

More from the data glossary

A definitive guide to data definitions and trends, from the team at Stitch.

Give Stitch a try, on us

Stitch streams all of your data directly to your analytics warehouse.

Set up in minutes Unlimited data volume during trial 5 million rows of data free, forever