Relay #70, Panel F

don't just know technology, understand it

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Databases are cool again

I'm not exactly sure what's happening, but there's been a flurry of DB related activities making headlines recently. With MySQL going mainstream with enterprise essential features such as stored procedures and triggers, Oracle drumming up interest in smaller markets with their feature limited free edition, and MSSQL digging into the pockets of traditional BI vendors with the 2005 release, it’s almost as if someone hit these people over the head with a clue stick. All of a sudden DB vendors are wising up to what’s needed in the industry, it’s just a bit odd they’re all doing it at the same time.

Even PostgreSQL is getting into the mix with an incremental release of their product touting a few improvements.

There’s interest in databases again. With the focus of the tech community being on everything from wireless to security to operating systems over the past year or so, it’s good to see such an important component of any system architecture getting some airtime.

Microsoft is probably making the biggest splash with their latest version of SQL Server. With a new push into Business Intelligence it’s making a lot of people stand up and take notice. BI vendors are threatened, while end users are very interested in what this new version will allow them to leverage. One case in point is Excel. MSSQL 2005 will have a new feature called Excel Services, which allows Excel to act as simply a front end to a MSSQL data store, thus allowing centralized data and more controls.

MySQL is next in line with their 5.0 release. With it comes features that many in the industry thought was holding MySQL back. With stored procedures, triggers, views, a proper data dictionary and support for sub queries, MySQL has finally put itself in the ranks of established RDBMS’s. It will be interesting to see if it will now make greater inroads into enterprise environments.

Next is Oracle with their _free as in beer_ release. A limited feature version that is meant to introduce developers to the platform. This may prove to be a direct competitor to MySQL and PostgreSQL that for the most part has been adopted by small to mid sized companies with limited data warehousing needs.

All these new developments have breathed new life into what has for many years been a pretty mature and established industry. Sufficed to say these aren’t new concepts (with the exception of MSSQL), but to have the vendors embrace these new markets and in the process making their products more attractive to a wider audience is a refreshing breeze in what had been an otherwise dark and musty backroom.