SE Radio 561: Dan DeMers on Dataware

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  • DeMers has reinvented the relational database and called it Dataware! Maybe he was too young and missed the pitch of using DB2 or Oracle to decouple, centerialize, and control data separately from applications. I took a look at to see if I was missing something. I went though a good chunk of the reference docs. Basically, it is exactly what I imagined – a proprietary DBMS missing a ton of the key features we discovered and added to SQL based DBMS systems over decades of refinement.

    As far as I can tell, the only thing in the podcast mentioned you can’t do better out of the box with open source Postgresql is the automatic row versions. I’m not convinced that is a useful feature, but, if so, there are many ways to build persistent row versioning into a database (I even built a cool one myself with “undo” capabilities back in the early 2000s). Let’s check out some of these ideas:

    – Centralized data: The very definition of a database “server”.
    – Data decoupled from apps: This was the entire point of “relational” technology and “SQL”.
    – Reviewable schema changes: This is why DDL was invented! Isn’t it better to have your schema and schema changes checked into git than locked in a proprietary “platform”?
    – Multiple views of the same data for different apps: Even Postgresql supports views. Anything much more sophisticated runs the risk of coupling with applications and/or requiring integration.
    – Centralized access control: Search for “row-level security” in your favorite DBMS documentation.

    I don’t doubt that the features that allowed Oracle to become a huge company are compelling. But there are important reasons why this strategy hasn’t worked for everything.

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