XMLs Rapid Growth

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-11-16 Print this article Print

Data in either stored form continues to grow at a rapid rate, but XML is growing more rapidly, as the industry shifts to XML-based form in OpenDoc and Microsoft Corp.s Office, for example, he said. "You see industries across the board, including government, adopting XML standard formats for documents and information exchange," Spang said, such as the use of electronic tax filing in government or the use of XML-based insurance forms.
IBM also unveiled new features of the database, claiming Viper will be the first database to support all three common methods of database partitioning—range partitioning, multidimensional clustering and hashing—at the same time, as a means to improve data management and information availability.
This will give customers the ability to structure data for optimal querying, Spang said. For example, users will be able to store data by ranges, such as all information for a particular year. Within that year, data can also be structured multidimensionally by quarter, say, or by regions, geography or country. Philip Howard, an analyst at Bloor Research, put out a research note on Viper in which he agreed with the direction IBM is taking with Viper. "IBM has concluded, rightly in my view, that using a relational approach is not adequate for processing XML," Bloor wrote. "Either you store it in relational format, in which case you get a major performance hit because you have to convert it to and from tabular format whenever you store or retrieve it, or you have to store it as a binary large object, in which case you cant do any processing with it." So, Bloor said, having two storage engines—relational and native XML—is the next logical step, with all that entails: separate tablespaces, indexes and so on. On the other hand, Bloor said, database management components such as autonomics and the optimizer will all be held in common and sit above the two engines. Having a database management layer on top and two database storage engines beneath that top layer raises the question of whether users might have more than two storage engines—the answer to which is, in principal, yes, Bloor said. As far as marketing goes, Bloor thinks it likely that the XML storage engine will be offered as an optional extra. "…There is obviously the possibility that you might want to license the XML database without the relational engine," he said. "As and when IBM moves the DB2 content repository to the new platform [something which has not been announced but which is an obvious next move], this could be a possibility." Read more here about IBM and SAP collaborating on a version of IBMs DB2 database. As far as the competition goes, Bloor said, IBM is leaving Oracle Corp. and Sybase Inc.—the database vendors with the "best current handle on XML"—well behind the curve. "I expect to see Oracle, in particular, to froth at the mouth at this announcement," Bloor said. "It will no doubt declare that this is the wrong direction and the wrong road. In my opinion, it will be Oracle that is wrong: You just cant get both the necessary flexibility and performance that you need for XML unless you are prepared to move away from a purely relational approach. So any frothing at the mouth will be exactly that: froth and bubble." IBM also released details of partners plans to use Viper. Justsystems Inc., an enterprise software provider, is working with IBM to deliver a solution for native XML applications based on Viper. Justsystems has a front-end application platform, called xfy, that will provide native support for XML content handling and business intelligence. In addition, Exegenix, maker of XML content conversion technology, is putting out Exegenix Document Migration Toolkit for DB2. Customers, developers and partners can register for the Viper open beta program here. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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