Database Trends: Q&A with Gartner's Donald Feinberg

IBM has been making database news of late, introducing an upgrade of the Informix Database Server and announcing a major deal with the City of Los Angeles. IBM says the city is moving from Oracle to IBM's DB2 9 in order to "lower the costs of running the city’s geographic information system (GIS)." Oracle declined to comment on the deal or IBM's claim that its DB business is "soaring." To get an independent assessment of the DB market, we called on analyst Donald Feinberg of Gartner for hi
How does XML support figure in customer implementations?

It's about document storage. In the past, content management vendors such as Documentum and others had to store their documents somewhere other than the database. They either built their own repositories or they used the Software AG Tamino native XML database. Now the four major database vendors – Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and Sybase – can all store documents in some type of native XML fashion, so many of the third-party ISVs that write content management software are starting to support databases that can store XML natively.

What should we expect to see in the Oracle 11g announcements next month?

Aside from the native XML capabilities, the big push will be on better DB manageability, along with enhancements for data warehousing, RAC [Real Application Cluster], partitioning, storage management and what they call grid management. There's a substantial list of enhancements.

Will Oracle also answer critics on the contract/license/price front?

They're addressing those issues, but it's not easy to change the perception of a sales force. That's not something that's going to change overnight.

What else is do you see really changing the database market?

We could talk for two hours about data warehouse appliances. Thanks to Netezza, the whole concept of the appliance has emerged. Appliances can be less expensive and answer a specific need in the market, so you have a whole bunch of appliances coming out now like IBM with its balanced data warehouse, HP with Neoview, Netezza itself is going public, DatAllergro is out there and Sun also has an appliance with Greenplum. So all of a sudden there are a bunch of new options.

I take it the "specific need" for appliances is data marts that aren't dealing with diverse query types?

Usually we find that appliances are used to create data marts to enhance the performance of the enterprise data warehouse. By adding an appliance, a company might be able to avoid upgrading its Teradata box for a couple of years. You may save a lot of money and get better performance on your EDW while giving the people using the marts better performance as well.