Feeds

IBM moves the database goalposts

Great leap forward

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Analysis At its annual analyst conference last week, IBM announced its next generation database. The big news is that this will not be a relational database. Or, to be more accurate, it will not just be a relational database.

IBM has concluded, rightly in my view, that using a relational approach is not adequate for processing XML. Either you store it in relational format, in which case you get a major performance hit because you have to convert it to and from tabular format whenever you store or retrieve it, or you have to store it as a binary large object, in which case you can’t do any processing with it.

So, using relational storage is inadequate for one reason or another, and IBM has concluded that another approach is necessary. The company’s next generation database will therefore have two storage engines: one relational store and one native XML store. And let me be quite clear about this: these engines will be completely separate, with separate tablespaces, separate indexes (Btrees and so forth on the one hand, and hierarchical on the other), and so on.

On the other hand, all the database management stuff, autonomics, the optimiser and so forth, will all be held in common and sit above the two engines. So, there is a database management layer and two database storage engines. This raises the question as to whether you might have more than two storage engines, to which the answer, in principal, is yes.

As far as marketing is concerned, IBM has not yet decided on the name of the new product which, incidentally, has been in alpha since June, and will be entering beta shortly. It is likely that the XML storage engine will be offered as an optional extra though there is obviously the possibility that you might want to license the XML database without the relational engine. As and when IBM moves the DB2 content repository to the new platform (something which has not been announced but which is an obvious next move), this could be a possibility.

So much for the hard facts; now for some opinion. First, I think this leaves Oracle and Sybase (as the two vendors with the best current handle on XML) well behind the curve, with Microsoft and the others more or less out of sight. What this release will allow you to do is to build applications that handle both XML and relational data much more easily, without losing any of the richness that this implies, and without degrading performance.

To a certain extent this release will help those few remaining vendors with pure XML databases: Software AG, Ipedo and Xyleme, for example; as it validates native XML storage. However, apart from specialised applications, most users want to be able to combine transactional and XML data which is what IBM is doing and these companies are not. This may change in the case of Software AG (see forthcoming article) but in the meantime, of the three companies mentioned, it is most likely to be Xyleme that benefits, as it is essentially a content management database vendor, whereas the other two (at present) are now mostly focused on integration.

Finally, I expect to see Oracle, in particular, to froth at the mouth at this announcement. It will no doubt declare that this is the wrong direction and the wrong road. In my opinion it will be Oracle that is wrong: you just can’t get both the necessary flexibility and performance that you need for XML unless you are prepared to move away from a purely relational approach. So any frothing at the mouth will be exactly that: froth and bubble.

Related stories

Sybase partners with IBM
Oracle rebuilds Warehouse

IBM puts new DB2 up for inspection

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
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
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
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.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
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.