Structural independence is a particular attribute of a database that is able to allow users and managers to make changes within the file structure of the database, without having an adverse affect on the application program’s ability to access data within the file. Without this kind of structure of a database, any changes to the data (like adding a field) would render applications that access the new filer structure more or less inoperable, meaning that this kind of database structure is rather important.
Over the years, databases have evolved and formed into new structures. The initial 1968 file-based database was the predecessor of a modern data base, whereby information was managed in a flat file. The data was stored in files, with interface between programs and files. Mapping happened between logical files and physical files, and one file would have corresponded to one or several programs. This provided weak security, as well as high maintenance costs, like ensuring data consistency and controlling access.
During the mid-60s, IBM and Rockwell created the Information Management Systems, which created the mainframe database market in the 1970s and 1980s. This provided a number benefits, including more efficient searching, less redundant data, and data independence. Database security was improved too, as well as integrity. This kind was not perfect, however, as it involved complex implementation, and difficulty of managing. It has lack of standards, like the problems of not being able to add empty nodes and not being able to handle many relationships.
In recent years, databases have modernized dramatically and become much more efficient and easy to use. Security has been improved and usability has become key. Structural independence is beneficial to both users and managers as it ensures that the database remains usable at all times.