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   Re: [xml-dev] Future of Databases

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> Hopefully Ken can correct me as necessary.

Good description. Perhaps my annotations below will provide more context for
the replies.

> Basically, my take on the panel was that it summarized what is current
> wisdom in the XML/database world, especially as seen through the eyes of
> people with strong relational backgrounds.

But not necessarily a relational bias. Rick Cattell was the founder of the
object database consortium (ODMG). Daniela Florescu has done a lot of work
with object databases.

> Q. Is it possible to do transaction processing over the Internet and
> scale to millions

(or hundreds of millions) of connected users. As far as I know, a banking
application in the UK is the largest Internet app today in terms of
concurrent connections (400,000 +).

 Q. XQuery is document-centric. What can we expect?

How will we query or find information in documents over the next decade?

> Chamberlin: Database people are still trying to catch up with the 90s,
> when all computers were connected together. A laptop can "hold" all of
> the works of mankind. Most are semi-structured or un-structured. Many
> come from streaming sources. For the last eight years, the database
> industry has been trying to solve this. [RPB: I believe this refers to
> the various attempts by relational databases to store/query text, as
> well as to add metadata to BLOBs, etc.]

Not just text -- other rich types including audio, video and biometric data.

> Q. Lots of other industries have consolidated.

We're moving to a situation of having a single aircraft manufacturer, a
single energy company and so on.

> Will the software industry consolidate into a single monolithic

Given a consolidation scenario (possibly a single computer company), how
important is it to have platform-neutral and interoperable technologies, or
portable programming languages and portable data formats.

> Cattell: We need multiple vendors to keep innovation alive. There are
> only 3 1/2 database vendors left. At this level, de jure processes are
> appropriate. JDBC and similar technologies [which are newer?] can move
> faster.

> Q. E-commerce is exchanging XML. RDBMSs can process 50K rows/second
> while parsers can only parser 2-3K XML documents per second. Is XML
> optimizable?

If proponents are correct, e-business and Web services means we'll routinely
have hundreds of millions of people using Web services (swapping XML
messages) and businesses swapping millions of XML documents. That implies a
strong need to scale up from today's capabilities -- for example, being able
to optimize XML queries against much larger volumes of data. Are we capable
of building XML query optimizers that can scale up?

> Florescu: I am optimistic about XML databases. XQuery should be equally
> optimizable [to SQL?]. There is are three impedance mismatches in Web
> services: Web to XML, XML marshalled to Java, and Java marshalled to
> RDBMS. There is therefore a market for a language that joins XML, Java,
> and SQL.

> Q. What is the future of databases -- T-spaces, in-memory databases,
> etc.?

Given the Web services and e-business predictions, what database
technologies will we need to scale up -- tuple spaces, in-memory databases,
or ??

> Cattell: In-memory databases are a no-brainer. T-spaces are interesting.
> They are a database, operating system, messaging system, etc. all rolled
> into one, although they won't take over the world yet.
> Gray: A variant of T-spaces is work flow. Flows can be described in XML
> to dovetail together.

> Q. In the 90s it was fashionable to say that databases were dead, that
> the Web exceeded databases.

... databases were dead, that the complexity of Internet data exceeded the
capabilities of database technology.

> Melton: Databases are increasingly needed. Storing traditional data is
> solved. Storing text is solved. There are new problems, such as
> searching video and audio. We need joins across different types [RPB:
> e.g. email and video].
> Chamberlin: There are lots of new challenges -- decades of Ph.D. work.
> XML queries are structurally different from relational queries. XML data
> is heterogenous. For example, "Find all the red stuff" returns a cherry,
> a stop sign, etc. Data is ordered, which causes optimization problems.
> You can ask questions about both data and metadata such as, "What kinds
> of things are red?" There are new ways to deal with sparse data, which
> requires lots of nulls in a relational database. XML handles this data.
> The logic around nulls is different. XML databases need a different way
> to construct things due to using a hierarchy.
> Cattell: Anybody who says that databases are dead means that relational
> databases are mature and you can't find a thesis topic.
> Q. What do you think of AMDs (associative model databases)?
> [RPB: The panel didn't really understand the question. Neither did I.

The person with the microphone was talking at first without really posing a
When we tried to clarify what his question was, it was something like "Can
we expect future database software to support the associative model for

> Gray: We already have an associative data model: SQL and XQuery are
> associative.

> Q. Will XML influence screen scrapers, etc.?
> Gray: It should reduce the need to screen scrape. Note that there are no
> eyeballs for XML. The customers are programs.

One of the issues for web services is there is no advertising model. You
can't count eyeballs because the processing is computer to computer.


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