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What is a Distributed Database?

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Growth and development are dependent on data, making it one of the critical departments in any organization. Databases need to be efficient and each type of database fulfills a specific purpose. For organizations that depend on bringing data to users across a large, geo-distributed network, a distributed database offers many advantages over a centralized database for transparency, safety, and scalability of data.

A distributed database works on interconnected computers over the same or different networks using nodes. The databases are synchronized and shown as a single database, distributed to different geographical locations, and retrieval or input of data is done from wherever it is required. Data is shared across multiple sites, and each site can be managed separately. In contrast, a centralized database requires maintenance and storage at a single location.

Types of distributed databases

There are two types of distributed database systems: homogeneous and heterogeneous. A homogenous distributed database is made up of identical databases over different sites. A homogenous system is relatively easy to manage as the sites work under the same distributed database management system, data structure, and operating system. Heterogenous systems work over contrasting OS, DDBMS and schema, meaning one site is not aware of changes happening at other connected sites.

Data is stored on distributed databases either by fragmentation or data replication. Data fragmentation is when data is broken up into small chunks and then stored over different sites. Data replication is when all connected sites have copies of the same data, not just a part of it. An update to the any part of the data means all connected sites are also updated, which can enhance parallel query requests. 

Pros and cons of a distributed database

A distributed database can offer many benefits over a centralized database. A distributed database has high availability due to its distributed architecture. Horizontal data clustering also improves this scalability. And due to the low communication cost for data manipulation, distributed databases can be highly reliable.

A distributed database system does have its downsides, however. Implementing a DDBS can be costly since data transparency requires high-end software. The overall structure can also be complex since many operations occur over multiple sites at the same time. Since everything is happening over multiple sites, security will need extra attention.


Distributed databases can offer better data management for enterprises with large-scale, geo-distributed branches. Learn how you can accelerate time to market with Macrometa's industry solutions, chat with a solutions expert today.

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