Object

Analysis of data management technology optimized for object data. Related subjects include:

July 8, 2012

Database diversity revisited

From time to time, I try to step back and build a little taxonomy for the variety in database technology. One effort was 4 1/2 years ago, in a pre-planned exchange with Mike Stonebraker (his side, alas, has since been taken down). A year ago I spelled out eight kinds of analytic database.

The angle I’ll take this time is to say that every sufficiently large enterprise needs to be cognizant of at least 7 kinds of database challenge. General notes on that include:

The Big Seven database challenges that almost any enterprise faces are: Read more

March 19, 2012

Akiban update

I have a bunch of backlogged post subjects in or around short-request processing, based on ongoing conversations with my clients at Akiban, Cloudant, Code Futures (dbShards), DataStax (Cassandra) and others. Let’s start with Akiban. When I posted about Akiban two years ago, it was reasonable to say:

All of the above are still true. But unsurprisingly, plenty of the supporting details have changed. Read more

October 2, 2011

Defining NoSQL

A reporter tweeted:  “Is there a simple plain English definition for NoSQL?” After reminding him of my cynical yet accurate Third Law of Commercial Semantics, I gave it a serious try, and came up with the following. More precisely, I tweeted the bolded parts of what’s below; the rest is commentary added for this post.

NoSQL is most easily defined by what it excludes: SQL, joins, strong analytic alternatives to those, and some forms of database integrity. If you leave all four out, and you have a strong scale-out story, you’re in the NoSQL mainstream. Read more

September 30, 2011

Oracle NoSQL is unlikely to be a big deal

Alex Williams noticed that there will be a NoSQL session at Oracle OpenWorld next week, and is wondering whether this will be a big deal. I think it won’t be.

There really are three major points to NoSQL.

Oracle can address the latter two points as aggressively as it wishes via MySQL. It so happens I would generally recommend MySQL enhanced by dbShards, Schooner, and/or dbShards/Schooner, rather than Oracle-only MySQL … but that’s a detail. In some form or other, Oracle’s MySQL is a huge player in the scale-out, open source, short-request database management market.

So that leaves us with dynamic schemas. Oracle has at least four different sets of technology in that area:

If Oracle is now refreshing and rebranding one or more of these as “NoSQL”, there’s no reason to view that as a big deal at all.

*That’s Mike Olson’s former company, if you’re keeping score at home.

September 15, 2011

The database architecture of salesforce.com, force.com, and database.com

salesforce.com, force.com, and database.com use exactly the same database infrastructure and architecture. That’s the good news. The bad news is that salesforce.com is somewhat obscure about technical details, for reasons such as:

Actually, salesforce.com has moved some kinds of data out of Oracle that previously used to be stored there. Besides Oracle, salesforce uses at least a file system and a RAM-based data store about which I have no details. Even so, much of salesforce.com’s data is stored in Oracle — a single instance of Oracle, which it believes may be the largest instance of Oracle in the world.

Read more

July 31, 2011

Terminology: Dynamic- vs. fixed-schema databases

E. F. “Ted” Codd taught the computing world that databases should have fixed logical schemas (which protect the user from having to know about physical database organization). But he may not have been as universally correct as he thought. Cases I’ve noted in which fixed schemas may be problematic include:

And if marketing profile analysis is ever done correctly, that will be a huge example for the list.

So what do we call those DBMS — for example NoSQL, object-oriented, or XML-based systems — that bake the schema into the applications or the records themselves? In the MongoDB post I went with “schemaless,” but I wasn’t really comfortable with that, so I took the discussion to Twitter. Comments from Vlad Didenko (in particular), Ryan Prociuk, Merv Adrian, and Roland Bouman favored the idea that schemas in such systems are changeable or late-bound, rather than entirely absent. I quickly agreed.

Read more

July 22, 2011

McObject and eXtremeDB

I talked with McObject yesterday. McObject has two product lines, both of which are something like in-memory DBMS — eXtremeDB, which is the main one, and Perst. McObject has been around since at least 2003, probably has no venture capital, and probably has a very low double-digit number of employees.*

*I could be wrong in those guesses; as small companies go, McObject is unusually prone to secrecy games.

As best I understand:

My guess three years ago that eXtremeDB might emerge as an alternative to solidDB seems to have been borne out. McObject CEO Steve Graves says that the core of McObject’s business is OEMs, in sectors such as telecom equipment and defense/aerospace. That’s exactly solidDB’s traditional market, except that solidDB got acquired by IBM and deemphasized it.

I’ve said before that if I were starting a SaaS effort — and it wasn’t just focused on analytics — I’d look at using a memory-centric OODBMS. Perhaps eXtremeDB is worth looking at in such scenarios.

June 24, 2011

Forthcoming Oracle appliances

Edit: I checked with Oracle, and it’s indeed TimesTen that’s supposed to be the basis of this new appliance, as per a comment below. That would be less cool, alas.

Oracle seems to have said on yesterday’s conference call Oracle OpenWorld (first week in October) will feature appliances based on Tangosol and Hadoop. As I post this, the Seeking Alpha transcript of Oracle’s call is riddled with typos. Bolded comments below are by me.  Read more

May 29, 2011

When it’s still best to use a relational DBMS

There are plenty of viable alternatives to relational database management systems. For short-request processing, both document stores and fully object-oriented DBMS can make sense. Text search engines have an important role to play. E. F. “Ted” Codd himself once suggested that relational DBMS weren’t best for analytics.* Analysis of machine-generated log data doesn’t always have a naturally relational aspect. And I could go on with more examples yet.

*Actually, he didn’t admit that what he was advocating was a different kind of DBMS, namely a MOLAP one — but he was. And he was wrong anyway about the necessity for MOLAP. But let’s overlook those details. :)

Nonetheless, relational DBMS dominate the market. As I see it, the reasons for relational dominance cluster into four areas (which of course overlap):

Generally speaking, I find the reasons for sticking with relational technology compelling in cases such as:  Read more

May 18, 2011

Starcounter high-speed memory-centric object-oriented DBMS, coming soon

Since posting recently about Starcounter, I’ve had the chance to actually talk with the company (twice). Hence I know more than before. :) Starcounter:

Starcounter’s value propositions are programming ease (no object/relational impedance mismatch) and performance. Starcounter believes its DBMS has 100X the performance of conventional DBMS at short-request transaction processing, and 10X the performance of other memory-centric and/or object-oriented DBMS (e.g. Oracle TimesTen, or Versant). That said, Starcounter has not yet tested VoltDB. Starcounter does not claim performance much beyond that of disk-based DBMS on analytic tasks such as aggregations.

The key technical aspect to Starcounter is integration between the DBMS and the virtual machine, so that the same copy of the data is accessed by both the DBMS and the application program, without any movement or transformation being needed. (Starcounter isn’t aware of any other object-oriented DBMS that work this way.) Transient and persistent data are handled in the same way, seamlessly.

Other Starcounter technical highlights include:  Read more

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