When Suns Jon Bosak led the team that developed the first XML spec in 1996, I doubt he envisioned a day when competitors Oracle and Microsoft would become two of the standards champions. In Redmond, nearly every phrase heard in the hallways includes XML used as a noun, verb, adjective and overall magic elixir for what ails the technology industry.
And as this weeks lead eWEEK Labs review states, the latest version of Oracles database embraces XML wholeheartedly. Oracle9i is a huge, sprawling product difficult for any but the most advanced reviewers to take on. As Labs West Coast Technical Director Timothy Dyck notes, in addition to being a relational and an XML database, 9i Release 2 is also an application server, message server, OLAP server and data mining server. That is about as close as you can come to an IT infrastructure all-in-one product. The Oracle developers have done a good job with the difficult task of incorporating the XML capabilities while also improving the overall performance. An accompanying article by Senior Writer Anne Chen examines whether customers are ready to upgrade to 9i.
Not to be outdone in the database battles, IBM has released its first open beta of DB2. Once again, we asked Tim to take a look at the innards of Version 8.1. Not surprisingly, he found XML improvements that bring DB2 up-to-date with other XML standards work.
For an update on how companies are using XML to make metadata more useful in business-to-business transactions via Web services, see Renee Boucher Fergusons article. XML holds the promise of being the interface to critical data regardless of where the information is stored. However, between the promise and the reality there is a lot of product development that has to take place. Renees article explains just how difficult it is to design and develop those needed products.
One area getting an increasing amount of interest is developing a collective voice for the IT worker. In her article, Lisa Vaas investigates the prospects of IT unionization. As job cuts continue and grumbles about lax standards for admitting foreign workers mount, union organizers are finding a receptive audience in the IT community. The more IT pros worry about job security and salaries stuck in the mud, the more attractive unions become.
Unions for IT? Write to me at [email protected].