Structured data refers to any data that resides in a fixed field within a record or file. This includes data contained in relational databases and spreadsheets.
Characteristics of Structured Data
Structured data first depends on creating a data model – a model of the types of business data that will be recorded and how they will be stored, processed and accessed. This includes defining what fields of data will be stored and how that data will be stored: data type (numeric, currency, alphabetic, name, date, address) and any restrictions on the data input (number of characters; restricted to certain terms such as Mr., Ms. or Dr.; M or F).
Structured data has the advantage of being easily entered, stored, queried and analyzed. At one time, because of the high cost and performance limitations of storage, memory and processing, relational databases and spreadsheets using structured data were the only way to effectively manage data. Anything that couldn't fit into a tightly organized structure would have to be stored on paper in a filing cabinet.
Managing Structured Data
Structured data is often managed using Structured Query Language (SQL) – a programming language created for managing and querying data in relational database management systems. Originally developed by IBM in the early 1970s and later developed commercially by Relational Software, Inc. (now Oracle Corporation).
Structured data was a huge improvement over strictly paper-based unstructured systems, but life doesn't always fit into neat little boxes. As a result, the structured data always had to be supplemented by paper or microfilm storage. As technology performance has continued to improve, and prices have dropped, it was possible to bring into computing systems unstructured and semi-structured data.
Unstructured and Semi-Structured Data
Unstructured data is all those things that can't be so readily classified and fit into a neat box: photos and graphic images, videos, streaming instrument data, webpages, PDF files, PowerPoint presentations, emails, blog entries, wikis and word processing documents.
Semi-structured data is a cross between the two. It is a type of structured data, but lacks the strict data model structure. With semi-structured data, tags or other types of markers are used to identify certain elements within the data, but the data doesn't have a rigid structure. For example, word processing software now can include metadata showing the author's name and the date created, with the bulk of the document just being unstructured text. Emails have the sender, recipient, date, time and other fixed fields added to the unstructured data of the email message content and any attachments. Photos or other graphics can be tagged with keywords such as the creator, date, location and keywords, making it possible to organize and locate graphics. XML and other markup languages are often used to manage semi-structured data.
Structured Data Technology Standards
SQL has been a standard of the American National Standards Institute since 1986. It is managed by InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) Technical Committee DM 32 – Data Management and Interchange. The committee has two task groups, one for databases and the other for metadata. HP, CA, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Sybase (SAP) and Teradata all participate, as well as several federal government agencies. Both of the committee project documents have links to further information on each project. SQL became an International Organization for Standards (ISO) standard in 1987. The published standards are available for purchase from the ANSI eStandards Store, under the INCITS/ISO/IEC 9075 classification.
IT Solutions Builder TOP IT RESOURCES TO MOVE YOUR BUSINESS FORWARD
Which topic are you interested in?
What is your company size?
What is your job title?
What is your job function?
Searching our resource database to find your matches...
Stay up to date on the latest developments in Internet terminology with a free weekly newsletter from Webopedia. Join to subscribe now.
The following facts and statistics capture the changing landscape of cloud computing and how service providers and customers are keeping up with... Read More »SEO Dictionary
From keyword analysis to backlinks and Google search engine algorithm updates, our search engine optimization glossary lists 85 SEO terms you need... Read More »Texting & Chat Abbreviations
From A3 to ZZZ this guide lists 1,500 text message and online chat abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Read More »
Java is a high-level programming language. This guide describes the basics of Java, providing an overview of syntax, variables, data types and... Read More »Java Basics, Part 2
This second Study Guide describes the basics of Java, providing an overview of operators, modifiers and control Structures. Read More »Network Fundamentals Study Guide
Networking fundamentals teaches the building blocks of modern network design. Learn different types of networks, concepts, architecture and... Read More »