What is a Database Catalog: A Definitive Guide

database catalogue
database catalogue

If you do not know what a database catalog is and how it works, you should click here for a definitive guide on data catalogs.

Around 90 percent of the data in the world was created in the last two years alone. More data is being created every day.

As data creation speeds up, companies need help managing and tracking data even you must take budget planner to track your finace.

It’s a good idea to understand of the foundations of data management, such as databases and data catalogs. To that end, you might be asking what a data catalog is. Is it the same as a database catalog?

We’ll build a ground-up understanding of the data cataloging tools at your fingertips. With a better understanding of these terms, you’ll be more ready to help manage your organization’s data.

A Database is the Foundation

You probably have an idea of what a database is and how it functions. It’s a way of storing data in an organized way. Databases structure information so it can be searched, making it more easily accessible.

A good example is the contact list saved on your phone. When someone new calls you, you can save their number to the phone’s memory, along with their name and address. Later, when you want to call that person, you can search them by name to come up with their contact card.

Databases can be extensive, such as medical databases that house patient records. Each patient has a record much like your phone contact. Also associated with this information are test results, X-rays, and other files as well.

Data about Data: The Database Catalog

A database catalog is used to keep all the metadata in the database sorted. Metadata is data about data. It includes information about database indexes, tables, and synonyms.

This allows the database to function. When you search for “Mariann” in your phone contact list, the catalog allows the application to pull synonyms. This improves the database’s functionality.

Getting the Big Picture

Now you’re likely asking, “What is a data catalog?” At first glance, it might seem to be the same as a database catalog. Both are used to organize metadata in a way that makes it easier to search and analyze.

Recently, the term “data catalog” has come to refer to a catalog for all the databases used by a company. You can think of it as a sort of master catalog for all the data in your organization.

A catalog attached to a single database is useful for that database. It doesn’t give you a big picture view of all the information your organization has. As the amount of data companies collect continues to expand, it’s important to have that fuller view.

Let’s go back to our medical example. Each department in a hospital has their own database with their own patient records:

  • The lab keeps track of test results
  • The imaging department keeps track of X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasounds
  • Infectious diseases has information about patients admitted for certain infections
  • The pharmacy has information about patient prescriptions

Suppose a doctor is treating a patient with an infection, but they’re not responding to medication. The doctor will want information about test results, previous prescriptions, and any allergies to medication.

With a data catalog, the doctor can get the information they need from the different departments. Without one, they’re left searching several different databases. They may waste time sifting through unrelated information or miss key information.

How a Data Catalog Helps Other Businesses

It’s easy to see how a data catalog benefits a healthcare organization. You might be wondering what it can do for your own business.

You probably have more information than you realize. Your sales and marketing team may be duplicating each other’s records. The payroll team has duplicate records to the accounting department and so on.

This can make it difficult for business leaders to collect information and analyze it. Suppose you’re preparing quarterly sales reports. You’ll need information from both sales and accounting.

Cataloging data solutions give you tools to find information across your company. These tools have the access credentials needed to search across datasets. You can pull data from both sales and accounting.

The best tools also come equipped for dataset evaluation. If you’re searching for Q4 2019 sales data, the metadata makes it easy to see which datasets are relevant and which ones belong to other years.

This capability makes it easier to find and check the data needed for more in-depth analyses. Want to see expenditure trends across the various departments in your organization? The data catalog will help you gather the data from each department so you can analyze the trends.

With the right information in hand, you can make better budgeting decisions.

Improving Data Security and Compliance

With more data to manage than ever before, it’s harder than ever to keep track of it all. That’s part of the reason data catalogs have become such important parts of good data management.

The other issue is increasing concerns about privacy. Take, for example, the European Union’s GDPR, which came into effect last May. This privacy measure says individuals have the right to “be forgotten” by companies.

What that effectively means is you need to erase all data related to a person if they ask you to. A data catalog makes it easy to find information related to that individual across your entire organization. With a data catalog, you can be sure you’re truly complying with the GDPR.

What happens if you don’t have a data catalog? There’s a good chance you’ll miss some of the data related to the individual. That could result in fines for non-compliance.

Power Your Business in the Big Data Era

Now you understand the importance of a database catalog, a data catalog, and the differences between them. A great data strategy will help your business move forward in the era of Big Data.

Looking for more great business advice? We have plenty of tips and tricks to help you on the road to business success.


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