Database architecture consists of three levels, external, conceptual and internal. Clearly separating the three levels was a major feature of therelational database model that dominates 21st century databases.
The external level defines how users understand the organization of the data. A single database can have any number of views at the external level. The internal level defines how the data is physically stored and processed by the computing system. Internal architecture is concerned with cost, performance, scalability and other operational matters. The conceptual is a level of indirection between internal and external. It provides a common view of the database that is uncomplicated by details of how the data is stored or managed, and that can unify the various external views into a coherent whole.