Thursday, October 27, 2005

RDBMS RIP?

At face value this article would appear to be, at best, sensationalist. But if you delve below the hyperbole, the essence of Gartner’s view is that data will become further decentralised and distributed. Unfortunately, the majority of the article weakens this argument by focusing on some simplistic RFID scenarios that do not withstand further investigation.

Consider the can of soup example with the inventory system that has no historic reference data. Say the inventory system determines that there are 100 cans of soup at one point in time, but later on discovers that there only 95 cans. Does it even know that 5 cans have gone since the last check? Have 5 cans been sold? What if 2 were stolen? What if a customer purchased a can, left the shop briefly, and later called back still carrying the same can of soup? How would the inventory system recognise that possibility if it accidentally discovered the can? Will the customer get charged again when he leaves the shop? Forget the soup, what we have here is a can of worms.

All of the above problems ostensibly come from the lack of any historic reference and yet the article only very briefly mentions that this still remains an essential aspect. This brief mention appears in the final paragraph, after the previous claims have left you in a state of outrage.

The fact is, RFID tag scanners and processes will produce event data essential to the understanding of the distribution system and its efficiency. Moreover, with tagging on individual items, there is likely to be terabytes of the stuff flowing throughout any reasonably large enterprise. You will not want to, or need to, pour all of this event data into a central database. I think Gartner is promoting the idea that you keep the data close to its origination and distribute it. This is more an argument for EII and SOA than an argument for the demise of databases per se. If nothing else, you need to retain historical data for manageability, security and accountability. But it doesn’t need to be centralised and detailed immutable historic event data doesn’t need to be shoehorned into a RDBMS as you only need to access it for search and aggregate it for analytics.

However, I do dispute the claim that XML is unstructured data... more comments about that later...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Maybe Oracle has already achieved its goal for MySQL... through simple FUD.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Terrorbytes

The EU’s progress towards a more stringent communications-data retention directive continues with Wednesday’s agreement summarised here. Interestingly, there is a call for unanswered calls to be retained too because these are exactly the type of call used to detonate bombs. I wonder what proportion of all the calls made go unanswered.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Oracle acquires Innobase

It must have been a no-brainer for Oracle to acquire Innobase and it probably should have been a no-brainer for MySQL to acquire them too. Oracle now has a presence in the open source database market and an opportunity to exert some influence (albeit limited) over its current and future open source competitors. There are plenty of possibilities - Oracle may wish to shackle MySQL itself; or Oracle may wish to promote MySQL to spoil the potential of more scalable open source databases like Ingres; or Oracle may wish to be the first into a market openly eyed by other influential vendors such as Sun. But for now, Oracle can afford to wait and watch...

Friday, October 07, 2005

The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming. Good to see those boundaries getting stretched though.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sun & Google Announcement

In a nutshell: Google agrees to distribute Java while Sun agrees to distribute the Google tool bar.

<sarcasm> Clearly, because both of these technologies need to reach a wider audience... </sarcasm>

Coy doesn’t get close to describing this announcement and that may speak volumes in itself. But did we need a press conference to announce this? Surely that just encourages brickbats from under whelmed speculators. Or is that part of the grand counter double bluff... :-)


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Moore's Law

Monday, October 03, 2005

iSAN

There is (and has long been) much talk of software as a service (SaaS) over the Internet. Web mail offers a superb example of why this is a sensible approach - no need to bother with managing and operating email servers or the headache of continual spam and virus checking while affording access from anywhere using simple and dependable thin clients.

In email Utopia, mail messages wouldn't get copied around between servers as they do now - instead a single instance of a message gets created somewhere on the Internet and private links to the message get distributed to the intended recipients, yielding a faster and more reliable service. But that needs a framework of information sharing and cooperation together with a trusted structure for data privacy and protection. Once that protective framework becomes established and accepted, the lure for SaaS in other areas becomes irresistible and logically completes the trend for enterprises to consolidate both information services and information stores - but using the Internet as the trusted storage network.