23 - Data Administration

Answers to exercises

Why do organizations need to manage data?

Organizations need to manage data because it can have a direct impact on their performance. It is a critical resource because it helps an organization remember the past, handle the present, and prepare for the future. It is just as important to manage data as it is to manage financial assets. If data are not managed, they may be stored in redundantly across the organization which causes more administrative overhead and use of resources than if the data were managed and held in one consistent manner. Furthermore, the data may not be as accurate when they are not managed than when they are managed. This could result in low quality decisions.

What is the purpose of a data dictionary?

The data dictionary contains information about all of the databases, their components, and detailed descriptions of the components, data validation, authorized users, and ownership details. Its purpose is to help database administrators and their staff to manage databases.

How does the management of external databases differ from internal databases?

Frequently, external databases are not under the direct control of the organization that is utilizing the data. It is typically a database that is maintained by a separate entity that sells data to interested organizations. The organization that requires access to the data often finds it helpful to extract the data from the external database and to place the data into its internal database(s) to manipulate it.

What is a data steward? What is the purpose of this role?

Data stewards coordinate the management of the data for which they are responsible. For instance, a data steward may be responsible for data definition, quality control and improvement, security, and authorizing access to the database.

What is an information architecture?

An information architecture is the infrastructure to collect, store, proccess, and disseminate data and information within an organization. It includes details of databases and other organizational memory technologies.

You have been asked to advise a firm on the capacity of its database system. Describe the procedures you would use to estimate the size of the database and the number of transactions per second it will have to handle.

To estimate the size of the database, one can measure the current size, discuss the need for expansion, and track the rate of growth over a period of time to benchmark it. Benchmarking should also be used to track the average number of transactions per second for each project or application. This information can be used to determine where the bottlenecks are in the data management system.

How do the roles of database developer and data administrator differ?

The database developer develops the data model and implements the database. This persons tasks include planning, requirements definition, database design, database testing, and database implementation. The data administrator's responsibilities include implementing and controlling the evolution of the database. The data administrator may also perform the consulting tasks required during database development. Data administration is a broader role.

A medium-sized manufacturing company is about to establish a data administration group within the IS department. What software tools would you recommend that group acquire?

A medium-sized company that is establishing a data administration group within an MIS Department needs to invest in several software packages. At a minimum, the group should invest in data dictionary software and DBMS software. If the group can purchase additional software, performance monitoring tools, CASE tools, and groupware would be beneficial.

What support do CASE tools provide for the DDLC?

CASE tools support project planning, requirements definition, database design, and database testing. They can be used to provide automated assistance for systems development, maintenance, and project management activities.

A large international corporation has typically operated in a very decentralized manner with regional managers having considerable autonomy. How would you recommend the corporation establish its data administration function?

This organization could benefit from establishing a decentralized distributed database. The data could be located in various locations, connected via local or wide area networks with several persons being assigned data administration roles and responsibilities. These individuals could be located in the regional offices and be directly responsible for the local data. Data administration also needs to be decentralized so it matches the power structure of the organization.

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What do you think are the most critical phases of the DDLC? Justify your decision.

This answer will very from student to student. See Figure 19-2 and Table 19-4 for an outline of the seven database development phases.

Why is database monitoring important? What data would you ask for in a database monitoring report?

Database monitoring is important because it alerts the data administrator to potential problems in the database and is helpful in the projection of future needs for physical storage space. It also allows the data administrator to monitor the database access patterns. The data that may be useful on the database monitoring report would include information about the type of functions requested, by whom and how often, the response time necessary of various functions, the number of disk accesses necessary, the identification of error conditions, and the growth rate of the database.

This page is part of the promotional and support material for Data Management (sixth edition) by Richard T. Watson
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Date revised: 19-Oct-2016