Sidebar: XML Database Options

Administrators who want to get a handle on storing and organizing XML content can choose among three approaches. Here are the key vendors in each category:

XML-enabled databases

IBM's DB2, Oracle Corp.'s Oracle9i, Microsoft Corp.'s SQL Server and Sybase Inc.'s Sybase all offer some XML enablement for their relational databases, says analyst Ron Schmelzer at ZapThink, and all four are moving toward native XML support. As they do, they will compete with Software AG's Tamino, which he calls the leading native XML database.

Native XML databases

Tamino is the market leader in the native XML database arena, says Schmelzer. Other vendors include TeraText Solutions in Annapolis, Md. (a division of SAIC), with its namesake suite of XML databases, and Burlington, Mass.-based OpenLink Software Inc.'s Virtuoso advertises both native XML and native SQL support.

Third-party integration tools

These tools claim to bypass the proprietary aspects of the XML "translation" layers developed by the vendors for their own relational databases, as well as accepting input from multiple relational, XML and, in some cases, flat-file databases. The vendors claim that these tools also make it possible to translate among the different data and query formats, allowing the integration of the combined data in applications such as Web portals.

Data Direct for SQL/XML from DataDirect Technologies Inc. in Rockville, Md., "allows a developer to write code that can create an XML document using data from multiple relational data sources, and allows an application or session to output that data and [update] the original data source" using a single dialect to query the data, says Paul Hessinger, executive vice president of software developer HealthRamp Inc. Another tool, Ipedo Inc.'s XML Information Hub integrates and manages data from both native XML and relational databases as well as unstructured data such as Microsoft Word documents.

But any advantages such tools offer "become less and less every month," says Schmelzer, as relational database vendors provide more native XML support to not only their own databases, but also to their existing data integration tools. IBM, for example, has pledged its DB2 Information Integrator will support the World Wide Web Consortium's XQuery standard for XML queries.

Scheier is a Computerworld contributing writer. Contact him at

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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