This is a start-to-finish decision-maker's guide to making the most of database technology: from selecting the right product through optimizing performance, and beyond. In non-technical, highly accessible language, this book helps business decision-makers master all the database strategies, applications, principles, and paradigms they need to understand -- regardless of their previous experience with databases. Managers will discover where databases fit in the enterprise and in the IT infrastructure; how databases can best be architected to meet changing business requirements; and how to compare and choose among competitive offerings. Then, they'll walk step-by-step through the database development process, learning project management techniques that deliver maximum business value in the shortest time. A Manager's Guide to Database Technology even includes detailed briefings on the latest advances in the field, including distributed and object-oriented databases.
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If you've taken the trouble to open this book, chances are you're involved with some aspect of software development or purchase. You've probably also experienced the software crisis—software takes too long to build, has uneven quality, and costs too much. A few firms have managed to use software systems to enhance their business and give them a competitive edge. But many more are still coping with inferior systems that end up hobbling or even sabotaging their goals.
Unfortunately, the whole situation is worse than it has to be. There's no shortage of techniques for combatting the software crisis, but many organizations seem unwilling or unable to use them.
I believe "a failure to communicate" is a big part of the reason. Computing technology is complex and has idiosyncratic jargon, which makes it difficult to explain or understand. Managers have an even harder time because they must deal not only with the software but also with human and organizational issues. They have neither the time nor the patience to wade through technobabble and irrelevant details.
This is particularly true for database systems, which are a special kind of software. Databases are critical, because they provide the memory of an organization. With sound databases, you can readily get the information you need to execute business strategies. With flawed databases, you can't find customers, you lose orders, and the organization fails to capitalize on its collective knowledge.
The marketplace is full of books on software development, but the level of detail is crushing. There is little or no attention to strategy and managerial concerns about how applications should be organized and how they fit together. In contrast, this book takes a broad look at technology and focuses on databases. You need databases that are flexible, sound, and efficient for successful applications. What You Will Find
This book covers key aspects of database technology and provides practical tips that managers can use immediately. It has five main parts.
Part 1: Introduction. Explains some basic terms and sets the book's context. Part 2: Data Management Technology. Helps you decide whether to use a database for a particular application. If you use a database, you must choose a paradigm and couple the database to your application. The emphasis is on relational databases, which are the dominant technology for new applications. Part 3: Database Design Technology. Shows how to model and design a database for an application you build and gives you insight for understanding the database of a product you may want to purchase. Separate chapters address operational (transaction oriented) and analytical (data warehouse) applications. Part 4: Software Engineering Technology. Presents software engineering, which is a systematic approach to development. Software engineering is needed for repeated success and for coping with differences in individual skill levels. Part 5: Advanced Technology. Covers special topics. Distributed databases are important for scalability, performance, and effective hardware use. Reverse engineering lets you seed the model for new applications and assess the quality of existing applications. Integration issues arise with suites of applications. The book concludes by discussing the significance of object-oriented technology for databases. Who Should Read This Book?
The primary audience is managers. Nevertheless, several kinds of persons can benefit.
Managers. The book is for managers who are concerned about software and want to understand the world of Information Systems (IS) and Information Technology (IT). Technical staff. They can learn more about the concerns of their manager, as well as broaden their computing background. Business staff. They can deepen their understanding of the capabilities and limitations of computing. University courses. Some professors may find the book suitable for business (MBA) and computing courses.
This book is intended for both large (Fortune 500) and small firms. I qualify my advice when a firm's size really matters. For the most part, I assume that a firm is building or purchasing software. Nevertheless, a vendor may find this book helpful in understanding their customers' point of view. Acknowledgments
I thank the many reviewers who took the time to read manuscripts and give me their thoughtful comments: Ian Benson, Jim Blaha, Dave Curry, Kathi Davis, Bill Huth, Chris Kelsey, Sham Navathe, Bill Premerlani, Hwa Shen, Steve Sherman, and Rod Sprattling. The comments of Jim Blaha, Chris Kelsey, and Steve Sherman were particularly thorough and incisive.
Thanks also to Nancy Talbert, who edited the final manuscript improving its readability and organization, and to Alan Apt and Toni Holm of Prentice Hall, who facilitated the book's production and distribution.
I took some of the material from Object-Oriented Modeling and Design for Database Applicatdons (1998, Prentice Hall), which I co-authored with Bill Premerlani.
Finally, I thank the many managers who helped me write this book. Some helped me directly by reviewing the book. Others helped me indirectly over the years by bringing me problems, asking me questions, and clarifying my thinking. Contact Information
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me. I would like to hear if this book has helped you and about your experiences. Send e-mail to blaha@acm or blaha@computer, or visit my Web site at omtassociates.From the Back Cover:
This easy-to-follow introduction is designed to help professionals better understand how to use database system technology. The author provides a highly accessible introduction to the paradigms, principles, and applications of databases. This book explains strategic issues in a non-technical manner that is accessible to business decision-makers of all levels of experience and will help them avoid damaging mistakes.
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