Operational Database is the database-of-record, consisting of system-specific reference data and event data belonging to a transaction-update system. It may also contain system control data such as indicators, flags, and counters. The operational database is the source of data for the data warehouse. It contains detailed data used to run the day-to-day operations of the business. The data continually changes as updates are made, and reflect the current value of the last transaction.
An operational database contains enterprise data which are up to date and modifiable. In an enterprise data management system, an operational database could be said to be an opposite counterpart of a decision support database which contain non-modifiable data that are extracted for the purpose of statistical analysis. An example use of a decision support database is that it provides data so that the average salary of many different kinds of workers can be determined while the operational database contains the same data which would be used to calculate the amount for pay checks of the workers depending on the number of days that they have reported in any given period of time.
An operational database, as the name implies, is the database that is currently and progressive in use capturing real time data and supplying data for real time computations and other analyzing processes.
For example, an operational database is the one which used for taking order and fulfilling them in a store whether it is a traditional store or an online store. Other areas in business that use an operational database is in a catalog fulfillment system any other Point of Sale system which is used in retail stores. An operational database is used for keeping track of payments and inventory. It takes information and amounts from credit cards and accountants use the operational database because it must balance up to the last penny.
An operational database is also used for supported IRS task filings and regulations which is why it is sometimes managed by the IT for the finance and operations groups in a business organization. Companies can seldom ran successfully without using an operational database as this database is based on accounts and transactions.
Because of the very dynamic nature of an operational database, there are certain issues that need to be addressed appropriately. An operational database can grow very fast in size and bulk so database administrations and IT analysts must purchase high powered computer hardware and top notch database management systems.
Most business organizations have regulations and requirements that dictate storing data for longer periods of time for operation. This can even create more complex setup in relation to database performance and usability. With ever increasing or expanding operational data volume, operational databases will have additional stress on processing of transactions leading to slowing down of things. As a general trend, the more data there are in the operational database, the less efficient the transactions running against the database tend to be.
There are several reasons for this one of the most obvious reasons is that table scans need to reference more pages of data so it could give results. Indexes can also grow in size so it could support larger data volumes and with this increase, access by the index could degrade as there would be more levels that need to be traversed. Some IT professionals address this problem by having solutions that offload older data to data stores for archive.
Operational databases are just part of the entire enterprise data management and some of the data that need to be archived go directly to the data warehouse.