Is Web 2.0 Disruptive to Databases? - InformationWeek

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Software // Information Management
Commentary
4/25/2008
10:23 AM
Rajan Chandras
Rajan Chandras
Commentary
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Is Web 2.0 Disruptive to Databases?

Are Web 2.0 innovations (mashups, cloud computing, web communities, etc.) conspiring to bring about the downfall of the relational database as we know and love it?... Or, to paraphrase a popular quote, is the news of the conventional database's demise greatly exaggerated?

Are Web 2.0 innovations (mashups, cloud computing, web communities, etc.) conspiring to bring about the downfall of the relational database (RDBMS) as we know and love it? Is that venerable technology - which proudly and successfully beat back energetic onslaughts from the likes of object and xml databases, document management solutions, and indeed the World Wide Web, that near-infinite hyperlinked information store - now reeling against the momentum of Web 2.0? Or, to paraphrase a popular quote, is the news of the conventional database's demise greatly exaggerated?There's no denying that relational databases are being challenged as never before - Forrester Research estimates that more than 90 percent of all business data in enterprises is unstructured, but only 5 percent of unstructured data is stored in databases. RDBMS vendors like IBM, Oracle and Microsoft are facing new damands such as the need to accommodate unconventional objects like images, sound and video, as well as monster-sized data warehouses. They're also facing rapidly evolving paradigms in collaborative Web-enabled solutions and the ever-increasing propensity of innovative start-ups to use open-source means of storing data. Factors like these are leading to prodigious efforts from today's leading vendors to stay relevant even as others, like the once-dominant Sybase and venerable have-beens like Informix (now slumbering deep in the labyrinths of IBM) are left to ponder the "If Only…".

Thankfully, all is not lost: The fraternity of transactional enterprise solutions (SAP, Oracle Applications, etc.) remains deeply entrenched in the workplace and faithful to the proprietary relational database.

Traditional database vendors like Oracle, IBM and Microsoft would have us believe that things have never be better. Yet, there is no doubt that some "database makeover" is here already. For example, there are now databases in the cloud (as in cloud computing), a relatively new Web 2.0 development, with services including Amazon S3/SimpleDB and the newly released Microsoft SQL Server Database Services (SSDS). These services are clearly disruptive to our traditional approach to implementing and using databases. Of course, there is a wide chasm between disruptive and deadly. What are your thoughts on where databases are headed?Are Web 2.0 innovations (mashups, cloud computing, web communities, etc.) conspiring to bring about the downfall of the relational database as we know and love it?... Or, to paraphrase a popular quote, is the news of the conventional database's demise greatly exaggerated?

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