Native XML Storage Reduces Development Costs

August 5, 2008

I have mentioned quite a few times how native XML storage makes life easier for database administrators and application developers. I thought I’d take a few moments to go into a little more detail.

By storing the XML directly in the database, you avoid the need to shred the XML into a relational schema. Shredding is also know as decomposition. Before shredding, you need to design a relational schema for the data. This can quite often be a laborious process. Sometimes this can be automated with off-the-shelf tools. However, you should keep in mind that the resulting tables will almost certainly need to be carefully examined, and possibly optimized. After designing the relational schema, you then need to set up the environment that actually maps the XML to the relational schema. And finally, you will need to develop and test code for using the data, which is typically quite complex because of the need for unwieldy SQL statements with multiple JOIN statements.

It sounds like there is a significant overhead for shredding XML data into a relational schema. But this is only a part of the story. You also need to consider what happens when the XML schema changes. And XML schema changes are an unfortunate reality for many of us. When the schema changes, it can play havoc with your relational schema, your mapping process, and the code for your applications that use the data. It is in dealing with these updates that many organizations are realizing the greatest gains from adopting native XML storage.

If you want a real-world example of the potential impact of dealing with relational tables for XML data, consider the FpML industry standard. With native XML storage, dealing with FpML messages is as straightforward as storing and retrieving the message. However, if you use shredding to store FpML messages, in some implementations you need to work with more than 475 separate database tables.

Some organizations have measured the impact of native XML storage on the workloads of database administrators and application developers. Here are some of the findings that I am aware of:

  • A large European financial services company use DB2 pureXML (pureXML is IBM DB2’s native XML storage feature) to reduce the number of lines of code for writing to and reading from their database by 65%. This reduces the amount of code they must develop, test, and maintain and allows their developers to be more productive.
  • This same company reduced the amount of time needed to develop services by 75%, thus allowing them to take on additional development projects and improve the services they provide.
  • They also determined that schema changes are now a breeze. In the past with shredding, adding a field took a day of work (development and test), and a week of real time because of the processes involved with database changes. Now all that is needed is to change the pointer to the schema in a DB2 XML configuration file, which takes 5 minutes.
  • A leading chemical company determined that by using the IBM database tools and pureXML technology they are saving 50-75% on development costs, while improving developer productivity by 25-50%.
  • And finally, a major American financial services company studied their environment and determined that by using the native XML storage in DB2 pureXML they reduce their resource requirements by 30%.

In any business, these are improvements that cannot be ignored.


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