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> When I read about database schemas with thousands of tables I wonder what kind of problem could possibly require so many tables.

Businesses that trade in thousands of products, employ thousands of people in dozens of countries, with hundreds of different taxation, human relations, timekeeping, payroll, health insurance and retirement savings laws, dozens of sites, inventories in hundreds of locations managed by dozens of contractors, moved by one of potentially thousands of logistics firms with at least a dozen modes of shipment, reporting standards for multiple countries, reporting standards for stock exchanges, internal management reports, bank accounts in multiple countries, in multiple currencies, with a mix of transfers via a variety of means, hundreds of cash alternatives with varying rules about whether they are cash alternatives...

Modern large businesses are very, very complex.

or the systems arent multi-tenant so they end up cloning the schema for each customer

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