Using Virtual Servers to Teach Implementation of Enterprise-level DBMSs

by Allen D
Since the early days of technology, the field of database management has always been present in the Information Systems curriculum. Students studying databases have the tendency to learn about relational databases, SQL server, normalization, and designing database applications. Although this typical course curriculum is a profound way of learning, students never get the full experience of database management. Selecting the best ways for students to develop hands-on, real-world practical skills is one of the problems that universities face. The article, “Using Virtual Servers to Teach the Implementation of Enterprise-level DBMSs” by William P. Wagner and Vik Pant, describes an innovative way of teaching students how to install and use a variety of enterprise database management systems using virtual servers. Although virtual servers are mainly used in the context of network administration, a research at Villanova University had proposed this method towards teaching database. A typical database class at the business school would consist of students being given a new laptop every two years. Each laptop is a workstation client to the virtual server that contain pre-loaded images that include Microsoft Office. In the first half of the semester, students learn the principles of relational data modeling. In the second half, students apply their conceptual theory through their choice of typically used enterprise DBMSs in the corporate world: Oracle, SQL Server, and MaxDB.

I chose this article because I like how universities are making small changes to their information systems curriculums. These different methods of teaching may adversely affect the way students learn and their successes in the world of IT. I personally like the decision of using server virtualization to transition students from theoretical concepts towards practical knowledge. The the staffs of Villanova University had not only created better opportunities for students but had also created more flexibility and ease of administration through adopting the benefits of virtualization products.  For example, corresponding updates and patches to the enterprise server can be made by modifying the base image and distributing that across multiple systems rather than managing multiple physical devices.



Wagner, W. P., & Vik, P. (2010). Using Virtual Servers to Teach the Implementation of Enterprise-level DBMSs: A Teaching Note. Journal Of Information Systems Education21(4), 349-354.

2 thoughts on “Using Virtual Servers to Teach Implementation of Enterprise-level DBMSs

  • November 12, 2012 at 12:21 am

    It would be nice if CPP were able to provide hands on training for the full implementation of virtual servers and DBMS. Having such hands on experience would better prepare students for their career choice and possibly get hired over someone who doesn’t have the experience. Actually implementing a database from scratch and learning the theory behind it is not something that can be done in a quarter system.

  • November 12, 2012 at 12:43 am

    I like to think that everything we learn in class will directly apply in the real-work environment but unfortunately that is not so. Perhaps, most of our knowledge will be applicable and our gaps will be filled once we join the workforce. However, having that experience will help leverage us towards a career in that path.

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