In IOD Global Conference 2008 at Las Vegas held at the end of October, there were some discussions on what computing era we are in. The computing era means the (new) dominant computing architecture(s) at the time. We probably had the mainframe era, PC era, the client-server era, the networking/internet era, and I thought currently we are in the cloud computing era!
The question was really related to the new major business application usage. There were days of batch data processing, OLTP, office automation, MIS, decision support systems/OLAP, business performance optimization, etc. There was no simple phrase to describe what business applications are used for today - it's going up in the food chain.
I'm more interested in a database era here today. Looks to me we have entered the era of XML databases in the database history. The first 15-20 years of database history was the era of hierarchical and network databases, when IMS was one of the most popular databases. The following 20 years is the era of relational databases, with quite a few popular products, including DB2. Then there was a period of time that object-oriented databases attempted to enter the mainstream, but never succeeded for whatever reasons (well - OODBs are really mainly for CAD type of applications).
Given the customer demand and real value of XML databases to the business for its flexibility and productivity uplifting, the era of XML databases is real, and it will last probably 20 years as a major database technology development and market growth. IMS and relational databases are not going away. In fact, they continue to grow. What I call the era is due to the heavy investment in the technology development, and major adoption and market growth.
To me, this year marked the 1st anniversary of the beginning of the XML database era as DB2 9 for z/OS with native XML support was GAed last year. Many vendors and customers share the same view. Last year, we had ISVs and cutting edge customers telling us they felt that XML was going to be big and looked same as the introduction of relational databases. This year, more customers said to me that they better learn more about XML and prepare for the inevitable adoption of DB2 XML database technology.
Do you share the same view? If you have doubt, do some investigation, or wait for history to tell if it's true or not. But I'm a total believer!
-Guogen (Gene) Zhang (GGZ)