A DBMS can support many different types of databases. Databases can be classified according to the number of users, the database location(s), and the expected type and extent of use.
A single-user database supports only one user at a time. In other words, if user A is using the database, users B and C must wait until user A is done. A single-user database that runs on a personal computer is called a desktop database
a multiuser database supports multiple users at the same time. When the multiuser database supports a relatively small number of users (usually fewer than 50) or a specific department within an organization, it is called a workgroup database. When the database is used by the entire organization and supports many users (more than 50, usually hundreds) across many departments, the database is known as an enterprise database
A database that supports data located at a single site is called a centralized database
A database that supports data distributed across several different sites is called a distributed database.
The most popular way of classifying databases today, however, is based on how they will be used and on the time sensitivity of the information gathered from them. For example, transactions such as product or service sales, payments, and supply purchases reflect critical day-to-day operations. Such transactions must be recorded accurately and immediately. A database that is designed primarily to support a company’s day-to-day operations is classified as an operational database (sometimes referred to as a transactional or production database). In contrast, a data warehouse focuses primarily on storing data used to generate information required to make tactical or strategic decisions. Such decisions typically require extensive “data massaging” (data manipulation) to extract information to formulate pricing decisions, sales forecasts, market positioning, and so on. Most decision support data are based on data obtained from operational databases over time and stored in data warehouses. Additionally, the data warehouse can store data derived from many sources. To make it easier to retrieve such data, the data warehouse structure is quite different from that of an operational or transactional database
Databases can also be classified to reflect the degree to which the data are structured. Unstructured data are data that exist in their original (raw) state, that is, in the format in which they were collected. Therefore, unstructured data exist in a format that does not lend itself to the processing that yields information. Structured data are the result of taking unstructured data and formatting (structuring) such data to facilitate storage, use, and the generation of information.