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Oracle's Project XDB Could Enhance XML Database Capabilities

The technology would let users store XML data in the Oracle database, and search and access XML data combined with relational data for operational and analytical purposes.
Oracle is developing technology that will enhance the ability of future versions of the Oracle relational database to store and manage XML data and content. Oracle wouldn't disclose when the technology would be ready, but execs at this week's Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco are hinting that it could be included in a new release of the Oracle database very shortly.

The development work, called Project XDB, would make XML a native data type within the Oracle relational database. XML is fast becoming a standard for developing Web-based content and creating documents such as purchase orders and invoices for online business-to-business E-commerce. But storing XML content in relational databases is difficult because relational technology is so fundamentally different.

Project XDB would overcome those hurdles and let users store XML data in the Oracle database, and search and access XML data combined with relational data for operational and analytical purposes. "XDB is interesting in that it brings these two camps together," says Mark Walter, a senior editor with Seybold Reports. "XDB is consistent with the industry momentum behind XML and its incorporation into infrastructure products."

Competing databases from IBM and Microsoft are also capable of storing XML data. But Oracle execs say XML documents can't be read or used from within those databases; they must be extracted first. Vendors such as Software AG sell databases specially designed for XML data, but Oracle argues that those just create separate islands of information within IT environments. Walter says XDB puts Oracle "in the forefront" in adding XML capabilities to its database, but he noted that it isn't available yet and IBM and Microsoft are rapidly enhancing their own XML database capabilities.