Feeds

XML database: big fish lose out to the minnows

Could do better

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

XML is increasingly being positioned as the next territory for the Microsoft/Oracle/IBM database war. However, the companies aren't telling you this, because none of them are very good at the technology yet.

Oracle is expected to roll out a raft of announcements around XML and the way it is being used to improve its database at the forthcoming Oracle OpenWorld conference.

Microsoft won't be far behind when it releases Yukon, the next incarnation of its SQL Server database, expected in 2003, which comes with extra XML spice.

IBM, on the other hand, has already got XML sewn up, thanks to the inclusion of its XML Extender in DB2 and can, quite easily, claim to have the upper hand in this particular race.

When it comes to the crunch, very few relational database vendors can truly claim to offer a revolutionary XML capability. The three big hitters all do reasonably well when it comes to document management, using XML, and content management. Given the increasing use of XML as part of B2B and content management, XML is an important addition. But if it's an extended XML capability that you're after,these three will not hold the key.

The question is should you really buy a database that offers pure XML capabilities over and above everything else?. The simple answer is yes. And in this case none of the above three products really cut the mustard. The real XML Database champions are Software AG and eXcelon.

Software AG markets the Tamino database, which has been specifically designed for storing and managing XML whilst eXcelon's solution is its XML Platform.

This has three major components: Stylus Studio, which is an XML development environment; XIS, which is its XML database; and a B2B component called Business Process Manager.

As far as XIS is concerned, this is not a pure XML database (in the sense that Tamino is). It is, in fact, the ObjectStore database with a software layer incorporated within it to specifically cater for the needs of XML. Any performance differences between this approach and that of Tamino should be marginal, while both products are feature-rich and should out-perform their relational rivals.

The problem that Software AG faces is that pure XML-based applications are few and far between. Most current uses of XML are extensions to existing applications that did not previously have anything to do with XML.

Data, therefore, may be extracted from the database, converted into XML and then sent wherever it needs to go. And the reverse process is used whenever XML messages are received. These translations take time and impair performance. But does this mean that you should throw out your old database and replace it with Tamino? If this was all there was to it, the short answer would probably be no. It is probably easier and possibly cheaper to simply upgrade your hardware to cover for the performance degradation.

This is precisely the argument used against object databases. You get a similar slow-down when you have to convert from the objects that comprise most modern software components into relational tables but that can be more than adequately catered for by hardware upgrades.

However, in the case of XML there is also the question of parsing the XML, which will be a further overhead if this is not stored after parsing. The one environment where any slow-down is to be avoided is real-time applications and this is the area where object databases have been most successful. Real-time XML applications will similarly be environments where Tamino is probably a must-have.

There are, however, further arguments in favour of using an XML database. One is that it is easier to convert between the plethora of XML standards that exist. A second is that XML databases typically support both DTDs and XML schemas, as well as XSL stylesheets and Xpath query capabilities in a more comprehensive fashion that is supported by the mainstream database vendors.

Finally, a further benefit (at least in eXcelon's XIS) when compared to relational databases is that you can add XML data to a document definition without having to change the database schema. The other possible environments in which object and XML databases might reasonably be deployed are for green-field developments, where there is no existing database to exploit. Unfortunately, experience suggests that non-relational databases will be overlooked by most developers, even when they would offer the most appropriate solutions.

Finally, while Tamino has undoubted performance advantages over relational databases, it is worth noting that this may not be the case (or not so much) when compared to object databases, despite any claims by Software AG to the contrary.

© . All rights reserved.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.