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Database Essentials
A discussion of basic database concepts.

| The Holy Grail Of Productivity |

A wise man once said that information is power. And in the Internet age, that statement has been proved correct more than once.

As more and more companies move their businesses online, a vast sea of digital data comes into being, bits and bytes that control both where businesses have come from, and where they will go in the future. Everything a company knows about its business, its customers and its partners is slowly being converted into ones and zeroes, turning paper-based offices into cyberspace-based virtual workplaces, increasing productivity and streamlining business processes.

Of course, there's a flip side to this as well. As the volume of data grows, it becomes harder to track and manage it effectively. And so some bright spark came up with the idea of organizing all that data into databases - essentially, data storage containers that impose a structure on the data they contain, so as to simplify the task of managing and using all that information.

This is a fundamentally good idea, since it first makes it possible to organize large amounts of information, and then search through this information for specific items of data. It also offers benefits from the point of view of portability and compatibility (once the data is organized and stored in a database, it can be extracted and displayed in any manner you choose), provides a centralized storage location for important information, and makes it easier to identify relationships between different data segments.

Over the next few pages, I'm going to give you a crash course in some of the basic concepts of database theory, in the hope that it will offer a starting point for your own exploration of this field of study. If you're a novice when it comes to databases, some of the concepts explained here should help you put things in perspective, provide you with an explanation of some of the terms used by database engineers, and also offer you some insight into the capabilities of today's most popular database engines.

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