There are five major components in a database environment: data, hardware, software, people and procedures. The data is a collection of facts, typically related. The hardware is the physical devices in the database environment. Operating systems, database management systems and applications make up the software. Examples of people in the database environment are the system administrator, programmers and end users. Procedures are the instructions and rules for the database.
The database management system acts as the brain of the database environment; it organizes, stores, retrieves and protects the data stored there. Additionally, the database management system permits easy changes to stored data. The major database management system vendors are Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Sql Server and Sybase.
There are four structural types of database management systems: hierarchical databases, network databases, relational databases and object-oriented databases. The one that an organization chooses to use depends entirely on the nature of the data being stored and the transactions desired. It is not uncommon for an organization to utilize more than one database management system because one type may be better suited to a particular task than another. Many popular database management systems are chose due to their ease of use, security and versatility.