Tina Hedlund
Senior Consultant, Comtech Services, Inc.

The debate over relational databases and object-oriented databases may get even more complicated with an increasing number of companies turning to XML to solve their data management problems and with new entries into the database market, which are designed to store only XML data.

The old question of whether to use a relational or object-oriented database is again coming to the forefront. Although many companies have standardized on relational database management systems (RDBMS) like those produced by Oracle, RDBMS have to be taught how to interpret XML hierarchies and therefore need to be modified to store hierarchical XML data. Many relational database vendors, like Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM, have added this functionality to their traditional RDBMS but object-oriented database management systems (ODBMS) may actually be better equipped to store and retrieve XML data.

Because both XML and ODBMS are hierarchical, ODBMS easily understand the structure of an XML document and make storing, searching, and retrieving XML data easier. Although ODBMS vendors, like eXecleon that produces ObjectStore, are well positioned to take advantage of this new market for XML data storage, critics question the long-term viability of ODBMS unless they are integrated into a larger content management infrastructure. Although ODBMS may be a more elegant solution, many companies are still sticking with RDBMS with XML add-ons. The large database vendors, Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM, are counting on this trend for upcoming releases and relying on relational database technology with support for XML. However, another large database vendor is entering the market with a new strategy.

In 1999, Software AG (based in Germany) released Tamino, a product built specifically to store XML data. By not using SQL to query the database and not breaking XML data into relational tables, Tamino provides faster searches and a decreased workload for the database management system.

Read the entire article by Mark Leon, “Where’s the XML? The sudden rise of XML puts a new twist on the old problem of data storage.”