Imagine if you will: you are the chief database administrator for a large corporation. Your organization's databases are on different continents, which has never been a problem. What is a problem is that those databases have been written by different divisions, using different database technologies: Oracle here, Sybase there, some Cobol down there, and so on.
You have been charged with providing a single point through which all those databases can be accessed and managed -- and no read-only, screen-scraping, funny stuff, either. Your superiors want honest-to-goodness, read/write access to all that data, regardless of its location and structure. Oh, and don't forget security.
Before you descend into full cardiac arrest, I'm happy to tell you that seeMore Technologies may have a solution that can rustle all those wandering databases into a single corral. Welcome to the Virtual Database zone.
Grand central server
SeeMore's Virtual Database Server is sort of like a database Grand Central Station, with you at the master controls. You connect the Virtual Database Server to all your data sources, and it provides a single access point through which database clients interact with those databases. The seeMore server isn't really a database server itself; it is a combination database multiplexer and selector, with ODBC, JDBC, and OLEDB connectors on both input (where the databases connect) and output (where the users/clients connect).
But, that's not all. Although the Virtual Database Server is an ODBC/JDBC/OLEDB-pass-through system at its simplest level, it also can make nonrelational databases appear to be relational databases.
You can, for example, connect the Virtual Database Server to a Cobol database, thereby enabling an ODBC (or JDBC or OLEDB) client to access that Cobol database as though it were a set of relational tables. The same is true of a CTree database, C-ISAM (indexed sequential access method) database, or even XML and flat file databases. Once you make the data available through ODBC or JDBC, then literally every application or development environment or third-party tool that has anything to do with databases can get at it.
Furthermore, if that Cobol database includes structured items - which would not otherwise map readily to relational rows - seeMore can "flatten" the data structures (creating pseudo-columns in the process) so that SQL queries can digest what would be otherwise indigestible. The result isn't terribly pretty, but the conversion is completely automated and it works.
The seeMore Virtual Server instantly accepts popular databases. It will happily talk to Oracle, DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Sybase, SleepyCat's Berkeley DB, and many others (check the company Web site for the complete list of supported databases). In fact, anything that provides an ODBC or a JDBC driver can be imported into seeMore; I connected it easily to MySQL and PostgreSQL through those databases' ODBC drivers.