XML Gets Organized
As XML content expands, good management tools are key. Native XML databases, SQL database add-ons and third-party integration tools all present advantages -- and trade-offs.
Computerworld - When the Classwell Learning Group began building a database of online lesson plans and other information for teachers, it needed to store and access content ranging from word processing files to copy scanned from textbooks. Because it needed to store, access and query all those data types, the publisher chose an XML database product.
"XML was pretty much a no-brainer for us," says Brendan Collins, director of IT at Classwell, a division of publisher Houghton Mifflin Co. in Boston.
IT organizations are using XML for everything from integrating applications to content management and access control. Native XML databases can help with storing and managing the resulting flood of XML documents, but they're not the only option. Major databases now offer XML translator features that transform XML documents into fields within their relational structures. That transformation process can eliminate many of the benefits of using XML, however, so SQL database vendors say they're planning to add native XML capabilities to their products.
In the meantime, third-party vendors offer tools that they claim offer more complete integration among XML, relational and even flat-file databases.
Deciding which XML data store is right for you depends on whether you have a stable schema, or design, for your XML data; the degree to which you need to store and audit transactions in their original form; and whether the application is critical enough to justify the expense of a separate, native XML database, say users and software vendors.
XML is a hierarchical data description language that uses tags, such as "customer," to define the data components within a document. In contrast, relational databases such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server or IBM's DB2 organize data in well-defined rows and columns within tables.
The fact that XML documents carry not only the data but also the definitions of that data makes it easier for those documents to "describe themselves" to multiple applications during a transaction. Compared with SQL, XML is also much more capable of dealing with unstructured data and data that can be more dynamic in both its meaning and its structure, says Paul Hessinger, executive vice president of HealthRamp Inc. in New York. HealthRamp develops software that allows doctors to prescribe medications using handheld computers. "The permanent data we need to take care of we store in SQL Server. But as we move the data from a handheld device to a Web server, that's largely done via XML," he says.
Choosing an Approach
XML also makes it easier to change the type or format of data stored in a database, says Jake Freivald, director of marketing at iWay Software, a division of New York-based Information Builders Inc. that develops XML integration tools. In an XML database, he says, adding a business-address field to a database only requires creating an extra set of data description tags within the document. In a relational database, he says, that change would require a new set of tables for the business addresses and defining how those new tables relate to every existing table in the database.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Who's afraid of the big (data) bad wolf? Survive the big data storm by getting ahead of integration and governance functional requirements This paper provides a detailed review of the best practices clients should consider before embarking on their big data integration projects.
- Understanding big data so you can act with confidence Automating information integration and governance and employing it at the point of data creation helps organizations boost confidence in their big data.
- Integrating and Governing Big Data The end-to-end information integration capabilities of IBM® InfoSphere® Information Server are designed to help organizations understand, cleanse, monitor, transform and deliver data-as well...
- The MDM advantage: Creating insight from big data To help enterprises create trusted insight as the volume, velocity and variety of data continue to explode, IBM offers several solutions designed to...
- Live Webcast Best Practices for the Hyperconverged Enterprise Network To the Age of Constant Connectivity and Information overload
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- The Software-Defined Data Center: Is your ADC ready? Data center transformation is accelerating beyond virtualization to next-generation cloud architectures and software-defined data centers, bringing new challenges for application performance, scalability and...
- Application Acceleration: Optimize the End-User Experience Watch this on-demand webcast and learn how you can optimize your web content, accelerate performance across any device and browser combination, and offload...