XML database takes hold

Looking to provide an alternative to storing XML tags in relational databases, Ixia Inc. this month plans to release Version 2.0 of its Textml database.

Primarily an embedded product for integrators and system manufacturers, the database is built to handle XML content as a data type, according to officials at Outremont, Quebec-based Ixiasoft.

The focus of the product is application development, and the database is intended to overcome shortcomings of mapping data such as Web and portal content to traditional, relational databases, said Ixiasoft CEO Philippe Gelinas.

"In health care [for example], you might have some bits of data there that are highly structured," Gelinas said. The product, he said, "builds upon the XML tags as a way of creating databases."

"We don't have to explain the XML content to the database because our product does that automatically," Vauclair said.

Version 2.0 features performance improvements as well as support for XML standards such as Xpath, which exposes locations in a document via XML. Also highlighted in the new product are support for data types such as indexes and numeric fields.

The database can be used in e-commerce applications, said Philippe Vauclair, Ixiasoft vice president of business development. "XML is an underlying protocol for just about all the e-commerce exchanges," Vauclair said.

"Anything previously done through EDI [electronic data interchange] is now being replaced by various protocols in XML," Vauclair said.

The product is not suited for transactional applications but for managing rich, semi-structured data types, Gelinas said.

Analyst Mike Schiff, vice president of e-business and business intelligence at Current Analysis, in Sterling, Va., said the product fills a niche but that relational database vendors likely would add XML management functionality to their existing relational products eventually.

"By not bringing [XML data tags] into [relational] tables, chances are you're getting performance gains," Schiff said. "The sacrifice is it's not a general purpose product."

Textml 2.0 costs US$10,000 per server license.

Also a player in the XML database market is Software AG, with its Tamino XML Database that features a native XML data store, according to Software AG.

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