Building Platform Versatility

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2004-11-15 Print this article Print

Reviews by eWEEK Labs of tool sets such as Microsofts Visual Studio support this assessment. These tools attempt to minimize the developer workload associated with these seams in the database fabric, but substantial developer effort is still needed to resolve them.

In-house teams should likewise maintain at least a back-pocket portability strategy, rather than wedding themselves too tightly to the internals of any single platform.

Reliance on stored procedures, although it has the benefit of placing logic as close as possible to associated data, does create performance-measurement challenges as that logic executes on remote platforms.

Late last month, Embarcadero Technologies Inc. announced its Rapid SQL 7.3 cross-platform stored-procedure benchmarking tool, promising developers precise identification of the objects and lines of code that dominate their applications execution times.

Approaching the problem of database performance from the deployment end is BMC Software Inc. BMCs SmartDBA product will soon provide improved real-time notification of database events to BMCs integrated real-time management console. "Our challenge is to take all the data in different databases and just send whats really needed," said Bill Miller, BMC mainframe business unit general manager, in Houston.

Speeding response time in database operations without increasing administrator head count is also a goal of IBM, with its expanded use of autonomic technologies in DB2 Universal Database Version 8.2, released in September.

The products high-profile features include a Learning Optimizer, dubbed LEO, that attempts to accelerate searches by dynamic analysis of database activity. One might expect this kind of capability to be especially effective in distributed applications with varying data bandwidth between different points in a network. Evaluation of Version 8.2 is under way at eWEEK Labs.

Evolving intelligence

The same technology that makes databases more secure can also make them smarter, instead of frustrating application developers by making data less accessible.

For example, Autodesk Inc. announced late last month a preview program of its new Design Accelerator tools. These tools enrich database capability in the direction of generating design geometries based on functional descriptions. The core of this capability is a database of available components and their engineering characteristics.

Greater analytic capability is also promised as a major emphasis of the long-awaited Microsoft SQL Server 2005, released late last month into what the company is calling a Community Test Program. A third round of formal beta testing is planned for next quarter.

However, Microsofts vagueness on the subject of actual release dates—and on key questions of database capability within its other products, such as Exchange —gives developers new motivation to examine open-source alternatives or to outsource the tracking of the moving target of Microsoft technology to a metaplatform vendor such as Adesso.

A critical question, from the viewpoint of database application developers, is the treatment of business logic as database-resident code or as executable data. Late last month, at the Applied XML Developers Conference in Stevenson, Wash., Microsoft Client Platform Architect Chris Anderson, of Redmond, Wash., said that developers dislike architectures "that force XML to be more than data." Microsoft has promoted instead its XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language) as a way of bringing declarative semantics to the Windows platform.

Adessos Landry, meanwhile, urges developers to think of database application development evolving—in terms of code that has all the power of traditional imperative and object-oriented languages but that lives in the database itself.

Next Page: Towards Greater Reusability

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel