Databases form the foundation for virtually all information systems. Yet, the design and development of databases is a very specialized skill even within the information technology world. Why do so few IT professionals decide to learn these skills? What would prevent some individuals from deciding to become a database developer?
While a high level of skill is required for most positions in the world of information technologies, there is no question that database design is particularly demanding. While most information technologies achieve a sort of standardization and are broadly applicable across societal and business realms, databases tend to be unique to the specific business or governmental mission for which they are being designed. Databases are tailored to a greater degree than most areas of information technology to specific mission statements, and must often function across business lines while incorporating data from disparate sources. They can also be highly fragile, and many IT students and practitioners prefer to avoid the accountability that comes with responsibility for designing, administering and maintaining a database. Databases usually have to be dynamic and are constantly updated, with opportunities for errors abounding.
Creating a database that provides for standardization across an industry or across government agency lines is a daunting task, and ensuring the product’s security from unwelcome intrusions and from normal human error requires a great deal of innovation and discipline. While there are certainly models from which aspiring database designers and managers can draw, the intricacies involved in complex databases require a great deal of time to design and to prove the concept. Having said that, there is no shortage of database programs that can be applied to most small and medium sized businesses or endeavors. The larger the organization and the greater the requirements for data that can be searched and cross-referenced, the more complicated the design. The fundamentals, however, are largely known, and designing a software package for the organization or project in question is essentially doable. As noted, however, managing and maintaining complex databases can be time-consuming and frustrating.