Panel sessions at conferences are usually pretty bland, sparsely attended affairs. But the standing-room-only panel on XML databases that took place at the Tenth International World Wide Web Conference proved to be a lot more interesting than might have been expected.
The panel consisted of researchers from IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and XYZFind (maker of a native XML database), as well as an independent XML researcher. Everyone stated that his views didnt necessarily reflect the views of his employer. Also, most of the panel members are actively involved in the World Wide Web Consortium standards process.
The main topics of debate were the role of XML within databases and the viability of native XML databases.
Microsofts Paul Cotton called XML the new intergalactic dataspeak. Not surprisingly, Don Deutsch of Oracle took a less grand view, stating that XMLs future lies in integrating with current database management systems, not replacing them.
Independent researcher Floyd Barry said that the strength of XML databases is their ability to handle unstructured data, such as documents. XYZFinds Evan Levy touted the lack of constraints in the XML data model, and George Mihaila, an IBM researcher, said that XML databases are designed specifically to take advantage of the XML model.