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BIG DATA storage and old DBMS technique comparison

Why BIG data is consider such a big thing. It was always there however technocrats or technology people oversee or dare I say failed to see it. Now in last few years we evolve our understanding on “How data can be used by different analytical techniques like Predictive analysis to leverage it in different business fields like Marketing, Sales, Product design etc.” However this is not what has to be discussed in this blog what is intended is to discuss BIG data storage techniques.


Let’s start by looking at some basic data models from the old history of DBMS.


1)     There was a flat file system in which all data was stored in a single file which was either text or comma separated file with charter set defining each and every data. That was the period we don’t have any data structure or data type or storage optimization techniques.

However after some time some DBMS technique started developing to store the data and there storage techniques (can read more about these on

2)     In a hierarchical model, data is organized into a tree-like structure, implying a single parent for each record. A sort field keeps sibling records in a particular order. Hierarchical structures were widely used in the early mainframe database management systems, such as the Information Management System (IMS) by IBM, and now describe the structure of XML documents. This structure allows one one-to-many relationship between two types of data. This structure is very efficient to describe many relationships in the real world; recipes, table of contents, ordering of paragraphs/verses, any nested and sorted information.


However it has its limitation as hierarchy is used as the physical order of records in storage. Record access is done by navigating through the data structure using pointers combined with sequential accessing. Because of this, the hierarchical structure is inefficient for certain database operations when a full path (as opposed to upward link and sort field) is not also included for each record.

3)     The network model expands upon the hierarchical structure, allowing many-to-many relationships in a tree-like structure that allows multiple parents. The network model organizes data using two fundamental concepts, called records and sets. Records contain fields (which may be organized hierarchically, as in the programming language COBOL). Sets define one-to-many relationships between records: one owner, many members. A record may be an owner in any number of sets, and a member in any number of sets.

A set consists of circular linked lists where one record type, the set owner or parent, appears once in each circle, and a second record type, the subordinate or child, may appear multiple times in each circle. In this way a hierarchy may be established between any two record types, e.g., type A is the owner of B. At the same time another set may be defined where B is the owner of A. Thus all the sets comprise a general directed graph (ownership defines a direction), or network construct. Access to records is either sequential (usually in each record type) or by navigation in the circular linked lists.

The network model is able to represent redundancy in data more efficiently than in the hierarchical model, and there can be more than one path from an ancestor node to a descendant. The operations of the network model are navigational in style: a program maintains a current position, and navigates from one record to another by following the relationships in which the record participates. Records can also be located by supplying key values.

Although it is not an essential feature of the model, network databases generally implement the set relationships by means of pointers that directly address the location of a record on disk. This gives excellent retrieval performance, at the expense of operations such as database loading and reorganization.

4)     Relationship model as a way to make database management systems more independent of any particular application. It is a mathematical model defined in terms of predicate logic and set theory, and systems implementing it have been used by mainframe, midrange and microcomputer systems.

Three key terms are used extensively in relational database models: relations, attributes, and domains. A relation is a table with columns and rows. The named columns of the relation are called attributes, and the domain is the set of values the attributes are allowed to take.The basic data structure of the relational model is the table, where information about a particular entity (say, an employee) is represented in rows (also called tuples) and columns. Thus, the "relation" in "relational database" refers to the various tables in the database; a relation is a set of tuples. The columns enumerate the various attributes of the entity (the employee's name, address or phone number, for example), and a row is an actual instance of the entity (a specific employee) that is represented by the relation. As a result, each tuple of the employee table represents various attributes of a single employee.All relations (and, thus, tables) in a relational database have to adhere to some basic rules to qualify as relations. First, the ordering of columns is immaterial in a table. Second, there can't be identical tuples or rows in a table. And third, each tuple will contain a single value for each of its attributes.

A relational database contains multiple tables, each similar to the one in the "flat" database model. One of the strengths of the relational model is that, in principle, any value occurring in two different records (belonging to the same table or to different tables), implies a relationship among those two records. Yet, in order to enforce explicit integrity constraints, relationships between records in tables can also be defined explicitly, by identifying or non-identifying parent-child relationships characterized by assigning cardinality (1:1, (0)1:M, M:M). Tables can also have a designated single attribute or a set of attributes that can act as a "key", which can be used to uniquely identify each tuple in the table.

A key that can be used to uniquely identify a row in a table is called a primary key. Keys are commonly used to join or combine data from two or more tables. For example, an Employee table may contain a column named Location which contains a value that matches the key of a Location table. Keys are also critical in the creation of indexes, which facilitate fast retrieval of data from large tables. Any column can be a key, or multiple columns can be grouped together into a compound key. It is not necessary to define all the keys in advance; a column can be used as a key even if it was not originally intended to be one.

A key that has an external, real-world meaning (such as a person's name, a book's ISBN, or a car's serial number) is sometimes called a "natural" key. If no natural key is suitable (think of the many people named Brown), an arbitrary or surrogate key can be assigned (such as by giving employees ID numbers). In practice, most databases have both generated and natural keys, because generated keys can be used internally to create links between rows that cannot break, while natural keys can be used, less reliably, for searches and for integration with other databases. (For example, records in two independently developed databases could be matched up by social security number, except when the social security numbers are incorrect, missing, or have changed.)

Then there are many changes to Relational Database like

1)     Object Oriented database model

2)     Dimensional model

3)     Multivalve Model

However this was all good then comes era where technocrats rediscover data and named it as BIG data now what Relational Database was not at all sufficient to handle this type of data. So clustering system like Hadoop, Program like PIG, HIVE and MAP reduce came into picture which makes managing big data somewhat easy. But if you study these systems you will clearly see they are leveraging the properties of previous data models that exist. It makes me think whether we are going back to basic database models technique to work around the speed and storage capacity.

Anyways BIG data is more about analytics then about its storage or retrieval as this might be putting an impact to our futurein term of data and its utilization.

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Tags: Database, Models


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