Database Management Systems and the Internet.

Susan Malaika: Database Management Systems and the Internet. VLDB 1996: 600-601
  author    = {Susan Malaika},
  editor    = {T. M. Vijayaraman and
               Alejandro P. Buchmann and
               C. Mohan and
               Nandlal L. Sarda},
  title     = {Database Management Systems and the Internet},
  booktitle = {VLDB'96, Proceedings of 22th International Conference on Very
               Large Data Bases, September 3-6, 1996, Mumbai (Bombay), India},
  publisher = {Morgan Kaufmann},
  year      = {1996},
  isbn      = {1-55860-382-4},
  pages     = {600-601},
  ee        = {db/conf/vldb/Malaika96.html},
  crossref  = {DBLP:conf/vldb/96},
  bibsource = {DBLP,}


In the last few years, major changes have occurred in computing, as a result of the fast adoption of the Web (at least 300,000 sites excluding Intranets in July 1996) and the popularity of Java. One of the side effects has been conferences that attract thousands of attendees which do include some database related topics, e.g. Hyper-G and Java Database Development Toolkit. However, the content of database conferences remains almost unaffected by the Internet. Thus one must assume that database research has not been swayed by the dramatic changes although most commercial database management systems have incorporated some Web interfaces, gateways and Java constructs.

In traditional database management systems, it is generally assumed that responsible people are in charge of naming, creating directories, defining datatypes, indexing, integrating sites, managing applications etc. The conglomerations of data and applications on the Internet (and on Intranets) are often created, maintained in bottom-up fashion, with few people in control. Indeed, this is one of the aspects that made rapid adoption possible. Entities from individuals to whole countries can participate, on almost equal terms as illustrated in July 1993 New Yorker magazine "On the Internet, nobody knows you are a dog". In some cases individuals are in a better position than countries, e.g. with respect to communications bandwidth, as described in Carl Malamud's "Exploring the Internet - A Technical Travelogue".

Aspects of searching, navigation and visualisation have become much more significant than traditional directories for locating people, data and programs. This is due to the very rapid change in the data accessible on Internet and Intranets, the quantity of information and the lack of control. The sites on the Web that contain indexes built by crawlers are very popular, e.g. 14 million accesses per day for AltaVista, in July 1996, and with a high rate of increase. The content of most traditional database management systems is invisible to the Internet and Intranet worlds, because it cannot be found easily.

Internet protocols include provision for caching on the network, e.g. through intermediate proxies and on client systems, thereby improving user response time by reducing the number of accesses to data and programs across the network. The communication protocols are supported by firewall systems (that protect intranets) and incorporate encryption based on public key. Heterogeneous data, e.g. text, structured data, images and programs, can be downloaded by users and programs using simple interfaces that are consistent across platforms. Infrastructures are being devised to manage heterogeneous datatypes and programs, and the links between them. Servers dedicated to specific tasks are evolving, e.g. link management, end user link manipulation, Internet business applications, Java program execution. Performance benchmarks for accessing Internet based data are becoming established.

In "An Introduction to Database Systems" first published in 1975, C. J. Date described the benefits of centrally controlled databases containing structured data. The advantages include reduced redundancy and inconsistency, sharing data with security and integrity, balancing conflicting requirements. The emphasis was mainly on programming interfaces that provide security and control, in accordance with meta-data defined by an expert.

In a seminar in 1991, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau described the fundamental Web constructs:

The emphasis was on straight-forward end-user access to diverse data formats from a variety of platforms in different locations. It was referred to as "universal readership".

At the JavaOne conference in May 1996, James Gosling described the history of the Java programming language, and its sudden success when applied to the Web, e.g. the introduction of the idea of Java programs (applets) associated with Web pages. The applet notion is now evolving into a method for distributing client software for client-server systems.

Is it time to create new data management services that embody constructs suited to the current popular environment? If the database community doesn't originate them - someone else will!



[1] The WWW5 Conference, Computer Networks and ISDN Systems 28, May 1996
[2] Leon A. Shklas: Tutorial on Web access to legacy data. WWW5 conference
[3] Rawn Shah: JDBC Java DataBase Connectivity. Java World. May 1996
[4] Chander Sarna: JavaScript For Database Connectivity.Netscape Developers conference, March 1996
[6] Hyper-G from Graz University, Austria
[7] Carl Malamud: Exploring the Internet, A Technical Travelogue. Prentice Hall, 1993, ISBN 0-13-296898-3
[8] IETF HTTP working group
[9] G. J. Hill et al.: Microcosm and the WWW: A Distributed Link Service. Southampton University
[10] aqui from IBM - End user link manipulation
[11] OpenMarket - Internet software for business
[12] Jigsaw Java server from CERN
[13] Webstone Benchmark from Silicon Graphics
[14] C. J. Date: A Introduction to Database Systems. Addison Wesley
[15] Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailliau: World Wide Web Seminar.
[16] The JavaOne Developers Conference - Keynote presentations

With many thanks to the panelists.

Susan Malaika, July 1996

Panelist biographies

Copyright © 1996 by the VLDB Endowment. Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the VLDB copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that copying is by the permission of the Very Large Data Base Endowment. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires a fee and/or special permission from the Endowment.

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T. M. Vijayaraman, Alejandro P. Buchmann, C. Mohan, Nandlal L. Sarda (Eds.): VLDB'96, Proceedings of 22th International Conference on Very Large Data Bases, September 3-6, 1996, Mumbai (Bombay), India. Morgan Kaufmann 1996, ISBN 1-55860-382-4
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