Whats still badly needed is a query language natively designed for XML data structures. Three little letters spell out the single biggest change that 2003 will deliver in terms of data management, and those letters are X-M-L.Whats still badly needed is a query language natively designed for XML data structures, instead of having to mash XML into SQLs row-table orientation. This language is XQuery, and all the major vendors are waiting for the World Wide Web Consortium to release the standard as a recommendation, something that should happen next year. Around that same time, I expect to see rapid adoption of XQuery across the database industry. (A few XML databases already implement draft versions of XQuery.) These XML-driven changes will have ripple effects, such as native support for XML Schema data types (much more precise than SQLs own native types) and more powerful full-text query syntax, that will benefit all data-centric applications, not just those that work with XML. Hybrid SQL/XQuery applications will allow for a gentle technology adoption curve. Another trend I expect to see is a shift toward closer-to-real-time and more scalable data analytics, especially on the OLAP (online analytical processing) and data mining fronts. The volumes of data being collected and the push to speed business processes are requiring faster data analysis turnaround, and that implies a shift toward relational OLAP (which can be performed directly on source data in a relational database) and away from multidimensional OLAP (where data is copied and analyzed offline). Clustering, database high availability and stronger security will continue to be areas of vendor focus as well. On the product front, the biggest database release I expect to see next year is the Yukon release of Microsoft SQL Server, although the post-8.1 release of IBMs DB2 might squeak in by the end of next year. Yukon will ship its first beta in the first half of next year and will be an update comparable to the huge change that happened between SQL Server 6.5 and 7.0. Yukon will finally modernize SQL Servers programming infrastructure by adding support for .Net Framework and will have engine-level XML and Windows file system integration.
Whats still badly needed is a query language natively designed for XML data structures. Three little letters spell out the single biggest change that 2003 will deliver in terms of data management, and those letters are X-M-L.
The big relational databases already offer a number of ways to store, transform and retrieve data in XML format, with Oracle Corp.s Oracle9i Release 2 currently offering the best combination of XML preservation and relational query power.