Subject OT - Database pioneers ponder future
Author Marius Popa

"I would just like to interject a note of caution:
Anybody that is starting to think about these new
models must understand the relational model
thoroughly. First, it may turn out that we already
have the model that we need," Date said.

Relational databases can store immense quantities of
data and keep historical records, he said, adding that
the industry should make sure it really needs a new
model for data management before inventing one.

"You can do things in the relational model. You do not
need extensions to the relational model," Date said.
"Business rules, I think, are totally compatible with
the relational model."

Stonebraker also noted the importance of relational
technology. "Ted Codd's contributions don't come along
everyday. I don't see another thing coming at that
level anytime soon," he said.

Stonebraker also had a word of caution for those who
think Web services will become the dominant data
integration technology.

"The mantra of the day is Web services, and I'd like
to put in a highly cautionary note [about] Web
services taking over the world," Stonebraker said. He
added that issues such as semantics over records will
hinder Web services. For example, a salary record in
one enterprise may be defined differently at another,
he said.

"These sort of semantic issues are going to plague Web
services the minute you get beyond things like e-mail,
which are just text-based services," Stonebraker said.

Relational database vendors, said Ken Jacobs, Oracle
vice president of product strategy, have withstood
challenges to the technology by adding functions such
as security and spatial data management into their
products. Jacobs concurred about continued relevance
of relational technology. "I think the relational
model is really fundamental, and as Chris said, we
really can do an awful lot with it," Jacobs said.

An audience member charged the panel with having a
one-size-fits-all approach to data management, namely
promoting only relational technology. "The relational
database seems to be the only answer," said the
audience member, who then cited the Spires data
management system as an alternative.

But Stonebraker said Spires was limited to textual
data management. "I think Spires is a popular text
processing system. I think one of the interesting
observations to make is that structured data and text
are on two different planets," he said.

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