Category Archives: Databases

Database Thaw Reheated

In his November 24 article Database Thaw Martin Fowler wrote about the lock-in of relational/SQL databases and some possible alternatives. I was with him until he wrote that “you can’t get [a] bigger breach of encapsulation than that,” referring to a central database shared by multiple applications. (The indented quotes below are verbatim from Fowler’s article).

For many organizations today, the primary pattern for integration is Shared Database Integration – where multiple applications are integrated by all using a common database. When you have these Integration Databases, it’s important that all these applications can easily get at this shared data – hence the all important role of SQL. The role of SQL as mostly-standard query language has been central to the dominance of databases.

That’s a fair argument, though I don’t agree that SQL has been central to the dominance of databases, or central to making shared database integration the “primary pattern” for integration. Before SQL-based databases took over in the mid-1980s, integration through shared non-relational databases was already the norm. SQL standardizes how users and application get data in and out of the database, and how database schemas are described, but it’s just a language that more or less replaced many proprietary and unstandardized languages that did the same thing.
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Relational Database Experts Jump The MapReduce Shark

In this article relational database experts David DeWitt and Michael Stonebraker compare MapReduce to traditional relational database systems (RDBMSs) and find MapReduce wanting. They make some strong points in favor or relational databases, but the comparison is not appropriate. When I finished reading the article I was thinking that the authors did not understand MapReduce or the idea of data in the cloud, or why programmers might be excited about non-RDBMS ways to manage data. Continue reading