The object-relational database suppliers may find themselves in trouble over the next couple of years if object request brokers (Orbs) really take off, leaving the database as little more than an object store.
The issue centres on whether programmers buy into a view of the world centred on an Orb or Microsoft's DCOM when developing applications, or whether they continue to see the database as key when building packages, according to David Wells, analyst at consultancy Ovum.
He explained: ?There?s quite a big overlap in functionality between the two and although neither is mainstream yet, they are starting to creep in. The issue is that, if distributed object computing becomes trendy and wins mindshare, then attention will switch to Orbs and the Orb vendors will need to reimplement the work already done by the database suppliers. This means they would need to reinvent the wheel and increase prices, but it also means the role of the database as part of the computing architecture may reduce dramatically to become little more than an object store. That leaves the problem for the database suppliers about where they make their money.?
He added that, although neither horse was out of the starting blocks yet, the situation would become clearer when Oracle released its Oracle 8 database this summer.
It would then become more evident if the market leader was backing the middleware horse or the object-relational hybrid database approach, and its strategy would affect the rest of the industry.
If the market went down the Orb route, then we could see the re-emergence of Sybase as a major player because of its traditional strength in the currently unglamorous middleware space, Wells said.
This would give the company the chance to talk up its strengths in a way it had not been able to do lately. But it would also potentially leave rival Informix in a sticky situation.
?If the interest in distributed computing grows and captures users? imaginations, Informix will need to have a very credible story of what its database engine can do. It would have to partner with an Orb vendor or do the work itself, but at the moment all of its marketing focus is on the objects in the database story,? Wells said.
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