Advantage and Disadvantage of Distributed Database Management System (DDBMS)

The distribution of data and applications has potential advantages over traditional centralized database systems. Unfortunately, there are also disadvantages; in this section we review the Advantage and Disadvantage of Distributed Database Management System (DDBMS).

Advantages of DDBMS

Following are the advantages of distributed databases over centralized databases.

1. Modular Development

If the system needs to be expanded to new locations or new units, in centralized database systems, the action requires substantial efforts and disruption in the existing functioning. However, in distributed databases, the work simply requires adding new computers and local data to the new site and finally connecting them to the distributed system, with no interruption in current functions.

2. More Reliable

In case of database failures, the total system of centralized databases comes to a halt. However, in distributed systems, when a component fails, the functioning of the system continues may be at a reduced performance. Hence DDBMS is more reliable.

3. Better Response

If data is distributed in an efficient manner, then user requests can be met from local data itself, thus providing faster response. On the other hand, in centralized systems, all queries have to pass through the central computer for processing, which increases the response time.

4. Lower Communication Cost

In distributed database systems, if data is located locally where it is mostly used, then the communication costs for data manipulation can be minimized. This is not feasible in centralized systems.

5. Improved Performance

As the data is located near the site of ‘greatest demand’, and given the inherent parallelism of distributed DBMSs, speed of database access may be better than that achievable from a remote centralized database. Furthermore, since each site handles only a part of the entire database, there may not be the same contention for CPU and I/O services as characterized by a centralized DBMS.

6. Improved share ability and local autonomy

The geographical distribution of an organization can be reflected in the distribution of the data; users at one site can access data stored at other sites. Data can be placed at the site close to the users who normally use that data. In this way, users have local control of the data, and they can consequently establish and enforce local policies regarding the use of this data. A global database administrator (DBA) is responsible for the entire system. Generally, part of this responsibility is assigned the local level, so that the local DBA can manage the local DBMS.

Disadvantages of DDBMS

There are following disadvantages of DDBMSs:

1. Complexity

A distributed DBMS that hides the distributed nature from the user and provides an acceptable level of performance, reliability, availability is inherently more complex then a centralized DBMS. The fact that data can be replicated also adds an extra level of complexity to the distributed DBMS. If the software does not handle data replication adequately, there wi1l be degradation in availability, reliability and performance compared with the centralized system, and the advantages we cites above will become disadvantages.

2. Cost

Increased complexity means that we can expect the procurement and maintenance costs for a DDBMS to be higher than those for a centralized DBMS. Furthermore, a distributed
DBMS requires additional hardware to establish a network between sites. There are ongoing communication costs incurred with the use of this network. There are also additional labor costs to manage and maintain the local DBMSs and the underlying network.

3. Security

In a centralized system, access to the data can be easily controlled. However, in a distributed DBMS not only does access to replicated data have to be controlled in multiple locations but also the network itself has to be made secure. In the past, networks were regarded as an insecure communication medium. Although this is still partially true, significant developments have been made to make networks more secure.

4. Integrity control more difficult

Database integrity refers to the validity and consistency of stored data. Integrity is usually expressed in terms of constraints, which are consistency rules that the database is not permitted to violate. Enforcing integrity constraints generally requires access to a large amount of data that defines the constraints. In a distributed DBMS, the communication and processing costs that are required to enforce integrity constraints are high as compared to centralized system.

5. Lack of Standards

Although distributed DBMSs depend on effective communication, we are only now starting to see the appearance of standard communication and data access protocols. This lack of standards has significantly limited the potential of distributed DBMSs. There are also no tools or methodologies to help users convert a centralized DBMS into a distributed DBMS.

6. Lack of experience

General-purpose distributed DBMSs have not been widely accepted, although many of the protocols and problems are well understood. Consequently, we do not yet have the same level of experience in industry as we have with centralized DBMSs. For a prospective adopter of this technology, this may be a significant deterrent.

7. Database design more complex

Besides the normal difficulties of designing a centralized database, the design of a distributed database has to take account of fragmentation of data, allocation of fragmentation to specific sites, and data replication.

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