Potential users of Informix's new object relational database have been given a blunt warning by its designer: you can have performance and speed, but it won't be safe.
Michael Stonebraker, Informix's chief technology officer, told delegates at the company's EuroForum in Paris last week that they had two main options with Universal Server: "You can be fast or you can be safe."
Universal Server, which is scheduled to ship early next year, combines Informix's relational code with object-oriented technology developed by Illustra Software. The resulting object relational product allows users to add different types of content to databases.
The enabling technology for this is Illustra's DataBlades. These are software modules that share the same processing space as the database engine, enabling it to incorporate different types of data, such as image and video.
If the DataBlades run in the same address space as the database engine, there are enormous performance gains, but also greater risks. For instance, if the blade has a problem, it will bring down the entire database when it crashes.
An alternative approach is to run the blades in a separate address space, triggered by remote procedure calls. This is safe, but brings performance restrictions.
A third option is to use the Common Object Request Broker Architecture as an interface language to enable the server engine, but this puts an enormous drain on performance.
According to Stonebraker, most of the existing 1,000 Illustra customers will risk the fast and unsafe option in order to maximise the performance.
"In our experience with users," he said, "they will always choose fast."
He added that if this option was chosen, it was vital to test and certify the code quality of blades, especially since so many will be produced by third-party developers. In the US, 100 companies have asked to be part of the DataBlade development programme - the first 30 blades should ship by the end of this year.
Stonebraker predicted a boom in the third-party DataBlade business.
"Around 80% of Illustra's 1,000 customers have developed their own DataBlades," he noted. "I'd be surprised if more than 20% of them do in two years time."
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