I am going through Relational Database Design by JLM. I have come across words like database, data model, DBMS etc. which I am able to understand. But, I get confused when the author tries to use Database and Database Environment with supposedly different meaning (as per my understanding).

What does Database Environment make up ? I understand that data model defines relationship of the data whereas DBMS is data model specific and translated data manipulation requests and retrieves data from physical storage device(s). The author defined Database as data and its relationship.

Where does Environment come into picture ?

This is where I got confused : underlying relationships in a database environment are independent of the data model and therefore also independent of the DBMS you are using

BTW Am I reading the right book to start with, considering am just beginning?

  • Beginning requires reading something, so it's not the wrong choice, and if you enjoy it then it's a good choice. Whatever you read, there will probably be a lot you don't understand. A textbook often used in CS curricula is Database Systems: the Complete Book. Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 13:06
  • I don't know what it is but I recognize it when I see it. Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 16:19
  • "Environment" is a filler word. If you delete it, the meaning of the phrase is unaltered. --> underlying relationships in a database are independent of the data model and therefore also independent of the DBMS you are using Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 16:21

3 Answers 3


According to Oracle

Database environments encapsulate one or more databases

So an example of dealing with more than one database: one database for the Accounting package, one for the HR system, possibly on the same server (depends on your licencing model) and you're concerned with the interfaces between them that are required to pay your wages...

  • Your answer is ok, but I doubt the Oracle specific definition is what is meant in the citation above, where the author talks about things "indepent of a specific DBMS".
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 10:59
  • It was 10s with Google, picking the best looking answer off the front page & adding the real world example from experience. Amazingly, wikipedia didn't come up with a definition.
    – mcottle
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 1:08

The term "database environment" is not as clearly defined as the other terms you mentioned. So it can have different meanings in different contexts. For example, if refering to Oracle's documentation, it may have the meaning as in the post of @mcottle. In a more general context, it could mean just "the database infrastructure of a company or organization" - the available databases, the available client/server infrastructure, the available database APIs, and so on.

So to understand the citation, you need to clarify the context of that statement. Maybe the author is talking about "underlying relationships of a companies data, independently from how this data is modeled"?


The key term here is the term "underlying relationships" [1] which in order to refer to something independent of the DBMS and data model must refer to facts about the objects being modeled. And thus it would seem that "database environment" refers to the context motivating design [2] and use of a database irrespective of whatever means are used to implement the database.

Or to use it in a sentence, "Databasers database in a database environment." The environment extends outside the computer and is the messiness the DBMS and data model are meant to corral.

[1] Note these are relationships not relations.

[2] Note the book is about design.

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