Chapter 1 The Database Environment
The purpose of this chapter is to introduce students to the database approach to information systems development, and to the important concepts and principles of this approach. This is an important chapter because it should convey a sense of the central importance of databases in today’s information systems environment. The idea of an organizational database is intuitively appealing to most students. However, many students will have little or no background or experience with databases. Others will have had some experience with a PC database (such as Microsoft Access), and consequently will have a limited perspective concerning an organizational approach to databases. In this chapter we introduce the basic concepts and definitions of databases. We contrast data with information, and introduce the notion of metadata and its importance. We contrast the database approach with older file processing systems, and introduce the Pine Valley Furniture Company case to illustrate these concepts. We describe the range of database applications from personal computer databases to enterprise databases and identify key decisions that must be made for each type of database. We describe both the potential benefits and typical costs of using this approach. We conclude the chapter by tracing the historical evolution of database systems.
Specific student learning objectives are included at the beginning of each chapter. From an instructor’s point of view, the objectives of this chapter are to:
1. Create a sense of excitement concerning the database field, and the types of job opportunities that are available.
2. Introduce the key terms and definitions that describe the database environment.
3. Describe data models and how they are used to capture the nature and relationships among data.