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Database Management Systems for Websites: High School Web Design Lesson 9

July 18, 2013

Database management systems

Database management systems are software programs that create, modify, query, administer, and update databases. The programs interact with other applications and users to capture data. In many cases, database management systems are required as part of the technology necessary for developing websites for a number of purposes:

  • to capture user information for communication purposes;
  • to accumulate marketing data;
  • to store information for online services supplied through a website;
  • to store files and folders in a secured manner; and
  • to organise and structure website content in a logical and efficient manner.

Types of database management systems

There are 4 types of database management systems (The Pennsylvania State University 2008):

  • hierarchical system – simplest form where database is structured in a hierarchy with each record having one parent record only linking back to the root record;
  • network system – similar to the hierarchical system except that each record can have more than one parent record;
  • relational system – records are retrieved on a relationship system where each data is linked to other data through common data elements (“key fields”); and
  • object-oriented system – unlike hierarchical and network systems, object-oriented systems cover all types of data including images, videos and audio, and produce output in a multimedia format.

A recent survey by DB-Engines (2013) in April 2013 has revealed that 8 out of 10 of the most popular database management systems are relational systems. The top 5 are Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Microsoft Access, and DB2, all of which are relational systems (DB-Engines 2013).

Characteristics and market analysis of common database management systems

The table below provides an analysis of each of the most common database management systems available in the market today. Except as stated otherwise, all information in the table have been extracted from the DB-Engines website at

Oracle SQL Server MySQL Access DB2
Developer Oracle Inc Microsoft Corporation MySQL AB, now a subsidiary of Sun Microsystems Microsoft Corporation IBM
Cost Commercial with a limited free version available. Licenses are available as Standard, Enterprise, and Express editions. Commercial with a limited free version available. Most popular licenses include the Express, Workgroup, Standard, and Enterprise editions. Open-source with the ability to purchase a license for extended functionality. Commercial with a limited free version available. Packaged with other Microsoft Office products. Commercial with a limited free version available. Staggered licenses depending on the number of features and functionality required.
Implementation of language C/C++ based languages. C++ based language. C/C++ based languages. C++ based languages. C/C++ based languages.
Operating system All modern operating systems. Platform dependent –Windows operating system only. Most open-source operating systems. Used mainly for web applications and forms the database component for the Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP (LAMP) platform. Platform dependent –Windows operating system only. Major operating systems Linux, Unix, Windows, and z/OS.
Security Stable with minimal downtime and data loss. Service level guarantees provided by Oracle. Industry-leading security features address all major security hazards but additional security features may be costly (Pamulaparty et al 2013). Progressive features enable data loss prevention. No service level guarantees although management of failover clusters is easier. All security features offered on standard packages. Average downtime and data loss. No automatic recovery and backup although such automatic backup functions are available from most commercial web hosting providers. Standard security features using login and password. Average downtime and data loss. Standard security features and organizations requiring more security features need to integrate SQL Server features with Microsoft Access. More vulnerable compared to the other database management systems as most security features are outside of the database (Pamulaparty et al 2013). Additional security features are costly leading to high long-term costs.
Current popularity One of the big 3 commercial database management systems in the market. Future prospects appear solid and market share has grown over the years to a current share of 40%. Reasons for popularity include ease of use, extensive knowledge database available, security capabilities, and features (Henschen 2012). One of the big 3 commercial database management systems in the market. Most widely used in small applications such as mobile phones and devices. Increasing market share due to Microsoft’s attempts to increase popularity by lowering costs (Henschen 2012). Largest open source database management system in the market. Many organizations are turning to MySQL and other open-source systems to save on costs as features and functionality of such systems become more sophisticated. Popularity is closely linked to the rise in popularity of PHP (DB Gurus n.d.) Usually marketed as part of the commercial Microsoft Office Professional package. On its own, not popular with many industry professionals in view of other alternatives (Harkins 2008; Ozar 2010). Future prospects are relatively poor and appears to be on the decline given the alternatives. One of the big 3 commercial database management systems in the market. Not as popular as the Oracle and SQL Server commercial systems due to difficulty of use. Knowledge database for DB2 is limited in the market place.