A (RDBMS) relational database management system
is a term used to describe an entire suite of programs for both
- managing a relational database and
- communicating with that relational database engine.
Sometimes (SDK) Software Development Kit front-end tools and complete management kits are included with relational database packages.
Microsoft Access is an example of this. Both the relational database
and front-end development tools for building input screens are packaged within the same piece of software. In other words, an RDBMS is both the database engine and any other tools that come with the database. RDBMS is just another name for a relational database product.
Relational databases were originally proposed to separate the physical storage of data from its conceptual representation and to provide a mathematical foundation for data representation and querying.
The relational data model also introduced a "high-level query language" (SQL)
that provided an alternative to programming language interfaces, making it much faster to write new queries.
Relational systems were initially targeted to the same applications as earlier systems and provided flexibility
- to develop new queries quickly and
- to reorganize the database as requirements changed.
Hence, data abstraction
and program data independence
were much improved when compared to earlier systems.
Early experimental relational systems developed in the late 1970s and the commercial relational database management systems (RDBMS) introduced in the early 1980s were quite slow, since they did not use physical storage pointers or
record placement to access related data records.With the development of new storage and indexing techniques and better query processing and optimization, their performance improved. Eventually, relational databases became the dominant type of database system for traditional database applications.