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Object / Object-Relational Database Management Systems. Brief History & Outlook Jamie Shiers, IT-DB, CERN. Overview. Evolution of Object & Object-Relational DBMS Status of Market today Outlook. Definitions. From Stonebraker: Object-Relational DBMSs: The Next Great Wave

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Object object relational database management systems

Object / Object-Relational Database Management Systems

Brief History & Outlook

Jamie Shiers, IT-DB, CERN


  • Evolution of Object & Object-Relational DBMS

  • Status of Market today

  • Outlook


From Stonebraker: Object-Relational DBMSs: The Next Great Wave

  • Filesystems: no query

  • RDBMS: query, simple data

  • ODBMS: no (poor) query, complex data

  • ORDBMS: query & complex

    • (Picture Akmal Chaudri)


Oracle Users Guide – V2.3

Relational S/W Inc.


  • E.F.Codd: “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks”, CACM 13, 6 (June 1970) pp 377 – 387

    • See http://wwwinfo.cern.ch/db/aboutdbs/papers/SRC-1997-018.pdf

  • Led to numerous commercial products: Oracle, SQL/DS, DB-2, SYBASE, Informix, MS SQLServer, etc.

  • In use at CERN since early 1980s…


  • Started ~late 1980s in research projects

    • Altaïr  O2, Objectivity/DB, Ontos, …

  • Target markets (Cattell): CAD, CASE, CAP, Scientific/Medical, AI, etc.

  • Object-Oriented DB Manifesto:

    • “An OO DBMS must satisfy 2 criteria:

      • It should be a DBMS

      • It should be object-oriented”

Odbms reality
ODBMS Reality

  • Market much smaller than predicted

  • Rationalisation

    • but less than in RDBMS market

      • O2 presumably now belongs to IBM!

  • What happened?


  • Numerous “dinosaur” analogies

    • After all, IBM invented RDBMS technology and only now(?) have a competitive RDBMS product

  • Can lightning strike twice / thrice?

  • Predictions of ODBMS market: revised down in 1998 timeframe

    • Original predictions (apparently) included ORDBMS component

    • In other words, $1-2B includes Oracle’s share


  • ODBMS initially worked with Smalltalk, C++, CO2, …

    • Mainstream?

  • Industry focus is now on Java, XML, …

  • The latter provided sufficient impetus for established vendors to enhance their products

  • See, for example, VLDB papers:

Vldb papers
VLDB Papers

  • 1989: complex objects / object modeling

  • 1990: performance of OODBs

  • 1999: XML; Extending SQL with user-defined data types

    • O-O, What Have They Done to DB2?

  • 2000: A Database Platform for Bioinformatics

  • The need for complex data models has now moved mainstream

  • The established vendors have seen it coming and have reacted

Impact on odbms
Impact on ODBMS

  • Down-turn of ODBMS market blamed on RDBMS announcements

    • e.g. Oracle 8.0, 8i, …

  • Oracle 9i claims complete object support according to SQL-99 standard

  • C++ binding provides ODMG-like interface for C++ programmers with both navigational & associative access

Odbms rdbms ordbms

RDBMS + “object extensions”

Can store ADTs

“Methods” on server

Complex Data with Queries

$8B in 1996

Likely to become dominant DBMS technology

Complex Data

Performance, scalability

Tight Language Binding

OQL - SQL3 query subset

Growth similar to RDBMS in ’80s

~$1B market by 2001

From 1999 RD45 Status report…



Risk analysis summary of options
Risk Analysis:Summary of Options

  • Evaluate C++ binding to e.g. ORACLE

  • Add ESCROW clause to Objectivity contract

  • Pursue possibility of source license

  • Visit key Objectivity customers

  • Produce new requirements list

  • Estimate manpower to support Objy in house

  • Estimate manpower for “clean-sheet” solution

  • Continue to monitor alternatives

The LCB agrees with the other suggested steps to mitigate risk,

with the addition of trying to insure that user code in reconstruction

and analysis programs is kept as standards compliant as possible.


  • Preliminary results from the Espresso proof-of-concept prototype suggest that a home-grown ODBMS focussing on HEP needs could be built with a reasonable amount of manpower, perhaps some 15 person-years in total. However, it is far from clear where even such a modest amount of manpower could come from, particularly in a period when the overall CERN manpower is shrinking. A certain amount of manpower could possibly be found within the collaborations and at external institutes. However, a core team responsible for the main developments would most likely have a significant impact on the viability of such a project. In the immediate future, there is essentially no manpower available beyond that to complete the performance and scalability tests and write an architectural document. In the longer term, a home-grown ODBMS remains a possible fallback solution, although the time to develop a full product suggests that this will no longer be true much later than 2002.

Oracle c binding
Oracle C++ Binding

  • Numerous C++ wrappers to Oracle’s C interface exist

  • With Oracle 9i, a C++ binding, modelled on JDBC, comes with the product

  • Had this existed in 1995, history might well have been different…

Oracle 9i studies
Oracle 9i studies

  • Focus of this workshop…

    • Well, today & tomorrow…

  • Discussed at last July’s “RD45” workshop

    • As Oracle 8.2 – the number changed but the features did not…

  • During the Hoffmann Review of LHC Computing…

  • Activity “kicked off” after IT Eloise meeting…

Eloise actions
Eloise Actions

The possibility of a joint project between Oracle and CERN should be explored to allow participation in the Oracle 9i  test with the goals of evaluating this product as a potential fallback solution and providing timely feedback on physics-style requirements. Non-staff human resources should be identified such that there is no impact on current production services for Oracle and Objectivity.