I am confused about the terms "DBMS" and "RDBMS". What exactly is the difference between them and more specifically, can oracle be called a DBMS or an RDBMS? If it is an example of an RDBMS, then what are examples of a DBMS?

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  • DBMS includes Object Orientated or Hierarchical or NoSQL DBMS.
  • RDBMS means those DBMS that are Relational (more or less).

One aspect of an RDBMS is that it stores its metadata in tables and access them via the query language.

I would think Oracle is both: DBMS and RDBMS. Relational databases (RDBMS) are a subset of more generic databases management systems (DBMS).

DBMS: software that helps to store data in a database in the form of tables, manage databases on a single system or across a local network. They are used to manage small amount of data and are used in small business applications. eg: MsExcel

RDBMS: a DBMS that also allows relationships to be established across different tables and allows querying of the table to extract certain data. They are useful to efficiently manage vast amount of data and are used in large business applications. eg: Oracle, MySQL.

So essentially, RDBMS is a superset of DBMS.

For a quick summary of what a RDBMS is, i'd think wikipedia is a good a source as any:

A relational database management system (RDBMS) is a database management system (DBMS) that is based on the relational model as introduced by E. F. Codd. Most popular commercial and open source databases currently in use are based on the relational database model.

A short definition of an RDBMS may be a DBMS in which data is stored in the form of tables and the relationship among the data is also stored in the form of tables.

from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relational_database_management_system

Any SQL product is considered to be a RDBMS. Therefore, Oracle is a RDBMS.

The confusing thing is that the 'R' in 'RDBMS' stands for 'relational' and SQL has many features that make it fundamentally at odds with current relational theory. However, the concept 'SQL means RDBMS' is too well established, the damage is done. Therefore, a new term was coined: TRDBMS where 'TR' stands for 'truly relational'. Oracle is not a TRDBMS.

DBMS is a Database Management System. "R" adds Relational into the mix. Any RDBMS is therefore a DBMS. Oracle is a relational database, so it is an RDBMS.


  1. It doesn't allow relations between the tables.
  2. follows object oriented and hierarchical model, e.g. Foxpro


  1. It allows relations between the tables
  2. follows relational model, e.g. Oracle,SQL Server

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