Building Applications in an Organization Using Database Management Systems - DBMS
A DBMS provides a
base on which to build a management information system, a production control
system, a customer support system, or any application involving substantial
data handling. It is a tool for managing data in any sort of application
environment and making data available to the using environment. Breaking
down a DBMS into various functions reveals a collection of tools
tools for different types of users and tools for different kinds of applications.
Although a DBMS is used in building a management information system, it
alone does not constitute an MIS.
- It does not include application decision models, but decision aids should be able to draw on the database in evaluating alternative courses of action
- It does not include corporate simulation models, but a simulation model running in the computer should be able to access the database. It is not a forecasting model, but a forecasting model should be able to access the database which contains both objective and subjective data as an aid to forecasting and it should be possible later to compare forecasts to actual results and highlight the significant deviations.
- It does not include the management military control center, but selected data from the database should be available to such a center.
- It is not a reporting system, but it should provide the facility to define the content and format of reports and then generate those reports either periodically or on demand to reflect the data currently in the database.
While a DBMS is not an MIS, the model presented here reflects the realities of business organizations, management information systems, and decision making. A DBMS is an application independent tool. It is general purpose tool for managing data in any environment to define, store retrieve update and redefine data. A DBMS by itself is like an empty box, it has form without content.
There is no database, no defined, no defined update transactions and no reports. After acquiring a DBMS an organization first defines and creates a stored database, then defines the transactions to be processed and the reports to be produced and develops programs to perform the special application processing for the users in the organization. A DBMS with these additions yields a database oriented application system which can then serve the users in the organizational environment.
The functional completeness of the DBMS determines how much additional work the user must do to build a database application system. With a DBMS providing a low level of capability, the user must compensate by devoting more effort and resources to developing the application system. By analogy, a builder with sand, bricks, mortar, water, nails and wood has considerable flexibility but expends much effort in building a house. With prefabricated rooms walls cabinets etc, it takes much less effort to build a house. For that special room, you can still use the flexible, low level building blocks.
A Database Application
A DBMS is at the heart of a database oriented application system. To a DBMS add a database definition, populate the database with the actual data, update transactions and output reports and develop programs for the special application processing. Then the system is ready to serve users in the organization. The level of functional capability in the DBMS determines the amount of additional work an organization must do in building application systems. A comprehensive DBMS is the key to quick evolutionary development of computer based information systems.
The concept of a user
role permits a separation of the person from the activities and the skills
needed. User roles have direct contact with the facilities of the DBMS.
The database administrator role differs from a user role by acting as
an agent for a community of users. User roles are divided into nonprogramming
and programming users, a distinction based upon whether or not the user
writes a program in the DBMS command language or in a conventional programming
language such a COBOL or FORTRAN. Generally nonprogramming users would
account for most system use. However the programming user plays an important
Once a DBMS is build, its ability to grow and evolve depends precisely on the ability of a programmer to enhance or modify its facilities. The casual user interacts with the DBMS irregularly and therefore the system must engage in a dialogue to help the user along and minimize frustration. The parametric user interacts with the system in prescribed and constrained way by invoking pre-stored requests and supplying parameters to complete the request. The general user interacts in unanticipated ways and, therefore, needs a flexible, high-level language.
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