Users Adjust to XML Tax on Networks

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-11-30

As much as XML use grows for projects involving document and data manipulation, enterprises are finding that the benefits of XML are not without associated costs.

Specifically, the extra processing power required to handle parsing and processing XML can be a strain on systems. In fact, according to a report issued this month by ZapThink LLC, XML is starting to choke the network from a bandwidth and processor perspective.

"Network traffic increases due to the increasing quantity and size of messages, both XML and non-XML-based, will tax the existing corporate IT infrastructure to its limit," said Ronald Schmelzer, a ZapThink analyst in Waltham, Mass. "Network administrators find they must devote general-purpose application servers, network equipment and messaging infrastructure to simple message parsing, handling and routing functions, while precious few resources remain for executing core business logic."

The report said XML traffic on corporate networks will grow from about 15 percent in 2004 to about 48 percent by 2008. In addition, the XML performance optimization market will reach $1.2 billion by 2010, and Web services traffic will dominate XML traffic on the network by the end of next year, according to the report. Moreover, the increased prevalence of large messages on the network is an issue that threatens the long-term viability of SOA (service-oriented architecture) implementations, the report said.

Nevertheless, developers said any performance hits they might have to incur are worth it.

Click here to read Peter Coffees column "Cutting and Sewing with XML."

Mircea Crisan, a Web technology analyst at Denison University, in Granville, Ohio, said that despite the risks of network issues, "were getting really aggressive with Web services and XML." Crisan said Denison is using XML for single-source publishing.

"My two cents on network slowness caused by XML: If the Web services are truly needed, then the network is used for its purpose," Crisan said. "If there is not enough room for the car in the garage, either the garage is too small or there are just too many things that do not belong there. Look for unnecessary things that clog the network before throwing out the baby with the water."

David Haslam, a senior architect with the Mopar division of DaimlerChrysler Corp., in Auburn Hills, Mich., said that switching to an XML-based publishing system helped save DaimlerChrysler weeks in proofing time and tens of thousands of dollars in publishing catalogs and other material the company sends out to dealerships.

Haslam said XML allows for reuse of many components, which leads to savings. "The reuse is why we use XML," he said. "And we project $800,000 in savings by next year."

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