Analysis of memory-centric object-oriented DBMS vendor Starcounter and its products.

May 21, 2011

Object-oriented database management systems (OODBMS)

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion about object-oriented database management systems (OODBMS). Let’s start with a working definition:

An object-oriented database management system (OODBMS, but sometimes just called “object database”) is a DBMS that stores data in a logical model that is closely aligned with an application program’s object model. Of course, an OODBMS will have a physical data model optimized for the kinds of logical data model it expects.

If you’re guessing from that definition that there can be difficulties drawing boundaries between the application, the application programming language, the data manipulation language, and/or the DBMS — you’re right. Those difficulties have been a big factor in relegating OODBMS to being a relatively niche technology to date.

Examples of what I would call OODBMS include:  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

April 13, 2011

What Starcounter may be up to

Starcounter seems to be offering an in-memory object-based/object-oriented/whatever short-request DBMS that also talks SQL. I haven’t been briefed at this point, and hence don’t have detail beyond what’s on their rather breathless web site. I’m guessing this isn’t an H-Store/VoltDB architecture, but rather something more like what Workday runs.

Most of the crunch I found on the Starcounter website (emphasis mine) is:

Let’s say that it is possible to make a database that is 10,000 times faster than what you use today. It would then be possible for your computer language objects to live inside the database from the very beginning. From the first { Customer a = new Customer(); }. The objects could live in the database, not as a copy, but as both database object and a Java or C# object at the same time. The database would transparently be your heap. The time it would take to save your object to the database would be reduced to nothing.

If such a database existed, you could say goodbye to caches and the duality of business objects, the database objects/rows and the complexity that follows. The speed would be amazing. Goodbye to time consuming scale-out solutions. Actually, you would be able to say good bye to the databases as you know them. You only need your simple objects.

Such a technology would be the ultimate NoSQL database. But what if the ultimate NoSQL database had SQL support, ACID, checkpoints and recovery and other enterprise features? Your pure, clean objects would then become the fastest and most powerful database in the world.

Beside that, other clues to what Starcounter is doing include references to Hibernate and to the declining cost of RAM.

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