Database management is a system of coordinating the information that is used to support a company’s business operations. It includes data storage and distribution to users and applications making changes as needed as well as monitoring changes to the data and preventing it from being corrupted by unexpected failure. It is one component of a company’s total informational infrastructure that aids in decision-making and growth for the business as well as compliance with laws like the GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act.

The first database systems were developed in the 1960s by Charles Bachman, IBM and others. They evolved into information management systems (IMS) which allowed the storage and retrieve massive amounts of information for a range of uses, from calculating inventory to supporting complex financial accounting and human resources functions.

A database is a collection of tables that organizes data according to a specific pattern, such as one-to-many relationships. It uses primary keys to identify records and permit cross-references between tables. Each table has a set of fields, known as attributes, that represent facts about the entities that comprise the data. The most well-known type of database today is a relational model, designed by E. F. “Ted” Codd at IBM in the 1970s. This model is based on normalizing data to make it more user-friendly. It also makes it easier to update data, avoiding the necessity of changing many sections of the database.

The majority of DBMSs support a variety of databases by offering different internal and external levels of organization. The internal level focuses on costs, scalability, and other operational concerns including the layout of the physical storage. The external level determines how the database is represented in user interfaces and other applications. It may include a mix of different external views (based on different data models) and may include virtual tables which are generated using generic data to improve performance.