What is an Embedded Database? Finally…a Basic Definition

July 12

What is an Embedded Database? A basic definition for those interested in the business side of an embedded database.
Featured: An example featuring how a GPS works with an embedded database.

A basic definition answering, “What is an Embedded Database?”

Embedded Database Definition

An embedded database is the combination of a database and the database software which typically resides within an application. The database holds information and the software controls the database to access or store information. The application software, or the user-interface, then accesses the database and presents that information in a way which is easy for the user to interpret and understand.

For example, the database is like a locked file cabinet and the software is the key to accessing that information. The application is your personal assistant that you ask to find and summarize a file from the cabinet. A slow database is like an unorganized file cabinet. To put this into better context, we can see how an embedded database is used in a popular product below.

Embedded Database Example

Let’s take a GPS for example. When you type your destination into the GPS, you are using what I described above as the application software; the user-interface. The database for the GPS stores information such as landmarks, road names and your “Favorites”. The application software then communicates with the database to access the stored information, as in the exact location of your destination. With this information, the application software translates the data it receives from the database and the data it receives from its GPS satellite to guide you easily to your destination.

An embedded database just means that the application software hides the information that it grabs from the database and translates it to an easy-to-use interface.

So why should you care about this information you ask? PROFIT.

How to Profit from an Embedded Database

Many businesses rely on a fast database as their competitive advantage. If your customer is constantly annoyed by your company’s slow application, due to the slow database, he or she will eventually switch to the competition.

Another important factor is beating the competition’s time to the market. Some companies work with developers to speed up the product development time while others stop after the sale. Releasing a product to the market before the competition could be the sole difference between an innovation and an imitation.


There is an embedded database in so many popular products ranging from smartphone apps to airplanes. These popular products rely on a high-performance database in the background to keep the competition at bay. Some applications may also require an in-memory database, high-availability database or a real-time database combined with embedded features. With so many choices, it may be helpful to view Scott Meder’s video playlist, “How to Choose an Embedded Database.” Now, embedded database definitions from Wikipedia or Onecore may make sense. If any additional information is needed, please contact us.

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Smartphone Apps | The Fast-Track to Success

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