February 1, 2008

Dan Weinreb on ObjectStore

Dan Weinreb was one of the key techies at Object Design, the company that made the object-oriented database management system ObjectStore. (Object Design later merger into Excelon, which was eventually sold to Progress, which has deemphasized but still supports ObjectStore.) Recently he wrote a pair of long and fascinating articles* about Object Design, ObjectStore, and OODBMS, the first of which makes the case that “object-oriented database management systems succeeded.”

*May, 2011 edit: Dan moved his blog URL. At this point, I’ll just point you at his ObjectStore category page. The posts in question date back to December, 2007.

That’s not a ridiculous interpretation, as he explains, but it’s kind of a glass-half-full one. By Dan’s own analysis, ObjectStore did OK but not great in the CAD/CAM/CAE and CASE markets for a while, but eventually fell back due to:

  1. Lack of critical mass.
  2. Moore’s Law making performance advantages less important.
  3. Fewer performance benefits in Java than in C++.

A later attempt to front-end RDBMS by object-caching also fell short, perhaps due to competition from object-relational mapping vendors such as Tangosol (now part of Oracle).

So far as I can tell, the other OODBMS pioneers — Versant, Servio, et al. — did even less well than ObjectStore. Versant did sell a few OLTP accounts as sort of an early Intersystems Cache’, but that’s ancient history.

I recommend the articles highly. Dan was one of the most articulate techies I knew way back in Symbolics’ heyday, as well as being a very straight shooter. He’s still going strong.


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