Towards Greater Reusability

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

One of the hallmarks weve noted about Microsofts .Net model, in particular, is the degree to which the code that adds value to a database can enjoy the same administrative convenience and reliable synchronization behaviors that have long been taken for granted for the data thats being stored. This kind of integrated approach is needed to elevate the reusability of code above the level of cut-and-paste and to give it the greater robustness of actual inheritance that passes along the benefits of improvement to all users.

Microsofts next major upgrade of its database and development platform has been long delayed but has shown promise in making substantial strides in this direction, based on eWEEK Labs discussions with developers.

Database developers must also prepare for a quantum jump in the volume and arrival rate of new data from RFID (radio-frequency identification) tagging initiatives that are quickly crossing the line from future vision to present fact.

Widespread RFID adoption has been seemingly just over the horizon for some time, delayed by privacy concerns and supply chain inertia, but there are signs that large-scale deployment may finally be imminent.

Developers should understand that the resulting pressures on database size will not be smooth upward trends but, rather, will be pronounced bursts of activity—for example, in the generation of test data sets for new applications or during the maintenance of parallel systems during major upgrades.

In the stormy environment that faces database developers, the enterprise database is the aircraft carrier of the IT fleet: a formidable concentration of power but also a primary target. These combined characteristics pose a challenge for the strategist who wants to put power where its most useful but who is thereby forced to place a crucial asset very much in harms way.

Database developers will do well to remember the proverb that "a ship is safe in its harbor, but that is not what ships are for." It is the job of the developer to make the power of data available to those who need it, not to protect that data to the point that it serves no purpose.

Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at

Developers grapple with new environments, technologies

Good news
Expanded mobile connectivity with wireless and ubiquitous broadband service
Bad news
  • More opportunity for data to traverse unprotected links
  • More applications using intermittent connections
    Developer blues
  • Encryption must be incorporated into data stores and applications
  • Security rules must be brought closer to databases to minimize application-layer leaks
  • Applications must be designed to minimize need for continuous connection and to deal with inconsistent actions by multiple, temporarily offline users

    Good news
    Scalable processing power using grid-based and other on-demand architectures
    Bad news
  • Risk of serial bottlenecks in application logic that prevent exploitation of concurrency
    Developer blues
  • Languages and idioms of concurrency must be learned; bugs of unusual subtlety may be challenging to identify and resolve

    Good news
    Readily repurposed data and improved reusability of code due to XML representation and loosely coupled Web services design
    Bad news
  • Need for smooth communication between nonsequential, non-hierarchical SQL-based repositories and XML formats that have sequence and hierarchy
    Developer blues
  • Balance must be found between full use of platform features and avoidance of platform lock-in
  • Emerging standards must be tracked and new applications developed to take advantage of multivendor consensus, without premature commitment to stan dards that are still subject to significant Change
  • Incompatibilities and differences in capability between J2EE and .Net platforms and tools Web resources: Next-generation database development

  • Database security via stored procedures
  • Database security versus end-user inference databases.
  • High-availability mobile database application development
  • Grid computing momentum in database development projects
  • Database configuration for XML
  • XML issues for development of the current version of SQL Server and SQL Server 2005, code-named Yukon

  • XML and Oracle development
  • .Net/Java interoperability

    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.

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