A lot of data architectures – both familiar and new – are vying today for consideration by development teams pursuing new apps that provide very fast analytics on very large sets of data. Object databases (ODBs) and persistent object stores represent one of these data architectures. The ODB software, once positioned as a replacement for the ubiquitous relational database (RDB), found continued use in niche segments, but never did unseat the RDB.
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The ODB is now being discussed again in the context of a new class of performance-intensive analytical apps that churn massive amounts of data. Some folks might call the area “cloud analytics,” and many of them might contend that relational stores do not work well in this environment.
The performance advantage of object databases over established object-relational mapping methods can be put pretty simply: If your data does not go through a mapping between the object and relational domains, you save time. In some applications that cull super large data sets for relationships, forgoing mapping may mean saving lots and lots of time.
“Ironically, relational technology isn’t designed to give you information on relationships. Looking at objects natively is better,” said Thomas Krafft, director of marketing, Objectivity Inc., a maker of object data base technology.
Complex relationship monitoring is at the heart of U.S. Government counter-terrorism analysis, and Objectivity’s Objectivity/DB software is part of some of that work, including “HUMINT,” for Human Intelligence, a multi-agency program that analyses intelligence that comes from human sources.
In a shootout between an RDB and an ODB, a benchmark performed by HUMINT contractor Northrop Grumman showed the Objectivity/DB platform was performing more than twenty times as many operations as a RDBMS platform.
For developers new to the object store, taking an existing application and trying to figure out how it will work in a different architecture is not easy. Objectivity is fielding an Eclipse plug-in to help. Last month at EclipseCon, Objectivity announced an Eclipse Connected Data Objects (CDO) Model Repository plug-in to access their object store. With CDO and the related Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF), developers will be able to more quickly port and test out applications, according to Krafft.