Sidebar: Users Split on Wisdom of Logic in Database

Although the deeply integrated .Net technologies in SQL Server 2005 will give Microsoft users new options for programming business logic into their databases, it's unclear to what degree that will inspire IT shops to modify their current development strategies.

The 35 IT managers polled by Computerworld were split about evenly on the topic. Some respondents insisted that logic has no business being in the database. Others said they plan to take advantage of the new capabilities.

"The more business logic that we can integrate directly into the database, the better," said David Buzzell, CIO at The Sedona Group, a staffing services and IT consulting firm in Moline, Ill. "This helps to ensure all data within the system is following established business logic. If the data isn't adhering to our business rules and isn't properly structured, then the data won't help us in the long run."

An IT manager at a major national retail chain said SQL Server 2005 will make it easier for internal developers to follow the IT department's strategic-directions document. That plan advocates moving business logic closer to the data in order to make it easier to provide standard and consistent ways to access information. "We have been attempting to get our development teams to think in this way for a while," he said.

Not everyone shares that view. For example, Rick Stuller, CIO at Hawaiian Electric Co. in Honolulu, said the power company makes only limited use of stored procedures in order to ensure database independence. Switching databases can be hard work for an IT shop that uses a database vendor's SQL extension to write stored procedures.

Scalability concerns are the main reason why First American Title Insurance Co. tries to keep business logic in the business services tier, according to Sue Binks, vice president of IT strategic product development at the Santa Ana, Calif.-based company. "We can always throw more servers into the pool to process the logic," Binks said.

Tyson Hartman, chief technology officer for the Americas region at Avanade Inc., a Seattle-based consultancy that is a joint venture between Accenture Ltd. and Microsoft, said it's easy to scale out application servers, whereas it can be challenging to do the same thing with database servers. "If you have a solution that requires significant scale, putting all the logic in the database has its limits," he said.

Sundial Software Corp. tries to maintain all of its business logic in the application layer, said Ethan Roberts, a software architect at the Madison, Wis.-based IT consulting firm. But database stored procedures built with .Net technologies could minimize network traffic for repetitive operations against a large number of data records, Roberts said. He noted that with the logic in a middle tier, the data would have to cross the network.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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