Feeds

Object databases - alive and kicking?

New open mindedness in data storage

Reducing security risks from open source software

Comment At a recent meeting with InterSystems (vendor of Caché and Ensemble) the company said it was seeing increased interest in object oriented databases.

Now, I must qualify this by saying that, first, Caché is not merely (or only) an object oriented database and, secondly, that this interest was primarily in the United States and, to a lesser extent, continental Europe - but not in the UK.

Third, of course, the information is purely anecdotal: interest and downloads do not amount to sales. However, it is worth noting that Versant (perhaps the leading pure play object database vendor) just recorded its highest quarterly net income since its IPO a decade ago. So perhaps there is something to this story. In which case, why should that be?

Mike Fuller of InterSystems expressed the opinion that graduates leaving university a decade ago are now in positions of authority, but without having gone through the previous object oriented hype of a decade ago: they are thus more prepared to look at an object database as a natural storage method when developing in, say, Java. There may some truth to that, but I think it is actually broader.

I think we have now reached a position where it is no longer a given that we have to use a relational database for everything. There has always been a peripheral awareness that non-relational databases have their place; witness the continuing use of Adabas (for which revenues continue to grow at a healthy rate) and the various multi-valued databases such as Uniface, UniVerse and Revelation, not to mention Caché itself (incidentally, in the latest release of Caché, the product will run Unidata and UniVerse applications natively, which may be useful to know if you are thinking of moving away from these platforms - other multi-valued databases will require some porting, though InterSystems reckons that 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the work needed can be automated).

However, peripheral awareness of older or different systems is not what was causing change. I think what is causing this change is twofold: first, we are thinking again about databases in general because of open source vendors such as Ingres and MySQL and even because of data warehouse appliances and, secondly, we are thinking again because of Sleepycat (now part of Oracle) and IBM.

In the case of Sleepycat Software, its Berkeley DB is essentially a file system with database management systems built around it. Many companies have woken up to the fact that you don't need a relational database to store static, structured data such as call data records or the sort of details that underpin Amazon or eBay. In fact, you don't even need to have a database management system, you can just use a flat file system together with indexing and SQL access via CopperEye Greenwich plus structured search from the same company. But the point is that, whichever approach you take, the raison d'être is that you don't need a relational approach to this.

Now add in IBM's Viper release of DB2 to this mix, which will be a hybrid relational/XML database, and here we have IBM saying, in effect, that relational is not always good enough. Now, various analysts have come to the same conclusion at various times but there is no good going on flogging a dead horse and it's a subject we've quietly dropped. However, with IBM finally coming out with the same message it is clear that the horse is no longer dead - it is very much alive and kicking.

Whether the object database market is reviving I don't know, but what I do know is that the old ways of thinking about storing data - always in a relational database - are no longer valid (if they ever were). Open source databases and appliances ask lots of questions, as do file systems, Caché, Viper and the rest. What companies need are storage mechanisms that are fit for purpose and that may vary widely depending on the data and application: if we are seeing a new open-mindedness, then that can only be a good thing.

Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.