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New Databases

By Steve Jones,

Amazon.comFor almost all of my technical career I've worked with two types of databases: flat files and relational database systems (RDBMS). I investigated object databases at one point in time, but they were so much of a niche, and the programming requirements greater than we wanted to deal with that we decided to stick with SQL Server at that company.

However there are some new types of databases being implemented in the world. Amazon's SimpleDB is mentioned in the article along with a few others that seem to be built to supplement a traditional RDBMS and provide some nice advantages in a distributed environment. For example, SimpleDB seems to be good for lookup data for remote systems, which could be web sites, mobile phones, or some other far flung technology that doesn't need to meet the ACID requirements necessary for transactional systems. Terracotta allows offloading of some transactional elements, preventing the need for so many round trips to the database.

As we build and implement these new types of technology, I think that we can end up with some very powerful applications. However we can also easily end up with a mess if developers and others are assuming that ACID concepts will still apply and that all changes will be visible to all clients in near real time. They might appear to do that in testing, but as usage scales, latency and other types of volume issues will come into play.

As DBAs, we should continue to learn more about these new types of databases or database technologies that might supplement our current RDBMS. Only with the knowledge of how these technologies work will we be able to offer valuable input into the architecture of our applications.

That input will definitely be needed to ensure that data integrity and quality can be ensured.

Steve Jones


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