Feeds

New kids on the data management block

Keep it old skool

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

In the age of Web 2.0, data is a strategic differentiator. Tim O’Reilly, considered the father of Web 2.0, has claimed “data is the Intel inside” of this revolution. Companies that control a particularly unique or desirable set of information drive more customers to their sites.

But the concept of data as a competitive differentiator is not new. So what - if anything - has changed, and what does it mean? I believe that, although Web 2.0 and XML are having a liberating affect on data, there is much they can - and should - borrow from the past.

A tenet in Web 2.0 is that you, the user, control your own data. How many of us now book travel online or execute our own stock trades? With Web 2.0, this concept goes a step further. The consumer expects to be a contributor to the data, not just a consumer - contributing blogs about their favorite travel destinations, creating mashups linking travel itineraries with weather and map information, loading their favorite travel videos to the YouTube.

Traditionally, data was strictly controlled by the business and by IT. Data was stored in proprietary DBMS formats, strictly controlled by a DBA on the operational side, and by a data architecture team on the design side. Business requirements for data were carefully documented in a logical data model and structural designs were built in a physical model that generated DLL for the DBA to implement as the gatekeeper of the DBMS system.

In Web 2.0, XML is touted by many as the open alternative. Basic design principles of XML are to provide interoperability and accessibility of data. XML can be read anywhere: on multiple platforms and operating systems, as well as by human beings themselves.

Also inherent in the design of the XML technology stack is the ability to format the data visually, and there are a growing number of technologies and scripting languages emerging for this purpose. Part of the appeal of the web and one of the reasons for its explosion is the ability for users to see information in an easily understandable and visually appealing format. XML is an evolution from the HTML document mark-up system, which allowed the user to create display tags for easy internet readability.

A core architectural capability that XML added was the ability to structure previously unstructured documents. Metadata tags were added to allow semantic meaning to a document and schemas allowed for structured data typing and validation. Searches could now move from being simply string-based text searches to structurally-based queries.

But is the tag structure that comes with XML enough to provide true data and metadata management? And is the structure provided even being used, or is the focus on the flashy visualization aspects? Many in the new school create an XML document without using schema validation at all, claiming that the document is self-documenting by nature of the tags provided.

To see the errors in this assumption, let’s consider the following XML snippet:

XML kids snippet

The self-documenting crowd is correct in that, with tags, we do have more meaning than would be provide with an untagged document - we know that the number 32.90 is the latitude of the location rather than, say, the acreage. An old school data architect, however, would want to capture much more information to make this meaningful for data governance. For example: what is the definition of location? Is this a state, a continent or a store location?

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
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
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.