Database Lifecycle

This article follows on from Database Design: Overview.

Like everything else, databases have a finite lifespan. They are born in a flush of optimism and make their way through life achieving fame, fortune, and peaceful anonymity, or notoriety as the case may be, before fading out once more. Even the most successful database at some time is replaced by another, more flexible and up-to-date structure, and so begins life anew. Although exact definitions differ, there are generally six stages of the database lifecycle.


The analysis phase is where the stakeholders are interviewed and any existing system is examined to identify problems, possibilities and constraints. The objectives and scope of the new system are determined.


The design phase is where a conceptual design is created from the previously determined requirements, and a logical and physical design are created that will ready the database for implementation.


The implementation phase is where the database management system (DBMS) is installed, the databases are created, and the data are loaded or imported.


The testing phase is where the database is tested and fine-tuned, usually in conjunction with the associated applications.


The operation phase is where the database is working normally, producing information for its users.


The maintenance phase is where changes are made to the database in response to new requirements or changed operating conditions (such as heavier load).

Database development is not independent of systems development, often being one component of the greater systems development process. The stages of systems development basically mirror the stages of a database lifecycle but are a superset. Whereas database design deals with designing the system to store the data, systems design is also concerned with the processes that will impact on the data.


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