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The '80s: Good for big data, bad for big hair

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The 1980s brought more than just big hair — the decade was also when “big data” first entered the computer scene, housed in a digital database that’s still very relevant today.

That digital database invention, known as the relational database management system (RDBMS), helped revolutionize how information is collected, stored, managed and accessed.

Thankfully, as the 1980s' questionable fashion trends faded out and digital devices experienced more wardrobe changes than celebrities hosting the Grammy Awards, RDBMS stood firm, becoming the framework that continues to structure how we bank, make travel arrangements and readily access large amounts of data — an increasingly important tool for business success.

Although not nearly as visible as the era’s bright neon fashion trends or other prominent inventions like the mega-sized personal computer or first mobile device, RDBMS has quietly stood the test of time even as newer software techs and database managers question its ongoing relevance. Trend-wise, RDMBS has become the khakis of database management — it may never be sexy, but will always remain a staple.

Tom Kyte, a senior technical architect in Oracle’s server technology division, is one of RDBMS’s defenders. On his featured blog Asktom.oracle.com, Kyte said he has been asked several times whether the technology is on its way out since he started working there in 1993. Those questions reach a fever pitch when any new database product is released. That was especially true with the emergence of new types of storage needs for Web 2.0 companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon.

But Kyte offers this reminder: "Most people are not building Facebook, they are building reservation systems, tracking systems, HR systems, finance systems, order entry systems and banking systems — things where transactions are important."

"Lose my status update, no big deal. But lose my $100 transfer and I’m mad. There is room for a lot of things out there."

Though other structures may be useful for real-time mobile consumer engagement or provide an alternative cloud-friendly based approach to database management, Kyte stands by RDBMS to provide an important foundation for anyone entering the field.

One of the main reasons RDBMS sets the bar so high is due to its reliance on structured query language (SQL) to manipulate data. SQL based systems remain a dominant standard for database interoperability and are used widely throughout the industry.

According to Gartner, 70 percent of database users operate Oracle and substantially all use SQL, especially since IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Terada and several other major database providers also use the language. Entry-level database administrative professionals benefit from such foundational training using Oracle.

oracle.jpgBecause of RDBMS and its continued relevance in the world, UC San Diego Extension recently restructured and realigned its Database Administration using Oracle specialized certificate, offering an up-to-date curriculum designed to help professionals remain competitive in the field.

The program provides practical skills through experiential instruction, teaching ways to configure and administer relational databases. Following completion of the certificate, students will gain general knowledge and concepts needed to oversee modern systems. In addition, the program parallels with the knowledge required to obtain an Oracle certification, which is an added resume enhancer — something that will never go out of style.

For more information, visit this UC San Diego Extension page or email infotech@ucsd.edu.



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