1. Yes, this trend is inevitable as organizations are continuously trying to optimize their processes and coming up with better ways of making their operations more efficient. This leads to differences in organization structures, data structures, and processes among different organizations, even among those from the same sector. For example, even if McDonald’s and Wendy’s are both in the fast food sector, it would be safe to assume that they don’t run their business in exactly the same way.
In response to this, organizations or solutions providers are including customization features in their applications. As a simple example, Facebook allows users to change how their Facebook page looks and allows them to choose the specific information they want to make available to the public. As a more complex example, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems allow for customizations to ensure that they meet a particular organization’s needs (Davis, n.d.).
2. There are generally two types of users – the end user and the super user where the super user would be someone with technical skills such as the systems administrator, the IT staff, or the technical support staff of an organization. End users should be allowed to change the design of the database only as it pertains to the user interface, that is, they should only be allowed to choose the fields they want to hide or display on their page, as in the case of Facebook. On the other hand, end users can also play a role in the database design while an application is still in development through user feedback and ticket submission. For example, if an application undergoes beta testing, the application developers may ask users to test the application and provide feedback on ways for improving the application. This may in turn lead to database design changes. Alternatively, users may be asked to submit tickets for the application defects that they encounter. Fixing these defects may again lead to database design changes.
As for super users, they should be allowed to make actual database changes as they customize the database for their organization. However, the application’s default database should be flexible enough to allow for such customizations without destroying the integrity of the database. The default database should also be provided to the client or users as their backup in the event that something goes wrong in their customizations. An example of a database design change in this case would be if, for some reason, the organization wants to keep track of every employee’s favorite food. This would most likely not be a part of the default database. However, super users such as the organization’s in-house developers should be allowed to add a field for such.
3. Search engines use robots called spiders to crawl the web. These spiders build lists of the words contained on web sites, starting with the most popular pages and the most heavily used servers (Franklin, 2012). Aside from storing the words and their corresponding URLs, search engines assign a weight to each page as a means of determining the page’s relevance in relation to a particular word. The data is then coded to save space, after which the page is indexed. Indexing in turn “allows information to be found as quickly as possible” (Franklin, 2012).
4. Google uses a distributed management system called Bigtable for the management of its data (Chang et al., 2006). “Bigtable is designed to reliably scale to petabytes of data and thousands of machines” (Chang et al., 2006, p. 1). Some of its features and capabilities include high availability, high performance, scalability, and wide applicability.
Chang, F., Dean, J. Ghemawat, S., Hsieh, W. C., Wallach, D. A., Burrows, M., Chandra, T., Fikes, A., & Gruber, R. E. (2006). Bigtable: A distributed storage system for structured data. Retrieved from http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/research.google.com/en//archive/bigtable-osdi06.pdf
Davis, A. (n.d.). ERP customization impacts on strategic alignment and system agility. Proceedings of the 2005 Southern Association of Information Systems Conference.
Retrieved from http://sais.aisnet.org/2005/Davis.pdf
Fanklin, C. (2012). How Internet search engines work. Retrieved from http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/search-engine1.htm