Klaus R. Dittrich ( http://www.ifi.unizh.ch/groups/dbtg/index.html) is professor and director at the Department of Informatics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and heads the database technology research group at this place . His main areas of interest include architectural issues in database management systems and their environment, system integration issues and advanced DBMS functionality. He has lectured and published widely and has been a visiting scholar at places like IBM Research, HP Labs, Boeing and the universities of Stanford, Milano, Aalborg und Nice-Sophia Antipolis. He has been and still is engaged in various national and international cooperation projects and regularly consults with industries and government agencies. Among other professional activities, he is the former president of SI (Swiss Informatics Society), board member of ICTswitzerland and co-editor-in-chief of the “Very Large Data Base Journal”, the leading scientific journal in its area. His doctoral degree is from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany.
Database Technology: From Systems to Services?
Database management systems (DBMS) in their current form are extremely successful software products, have proven their abilities in practical use all over the place, and also from a research point of view show a high degree of maturity and exploration. Recent development in this area tries to make DBMS fit for ever new, formerly “unusual” application areas and thus to extent them accordingly. Fields and architectures like multimedia, bioinformatics, document/content management, WWW, GRID, stream data etc. are just examples of a general trend.
Despite all progress made so far and despite all euphoria associated with it, we also realize more and more that there are “limits to growth” for DBMS. The question arises whether we should still seek our salvation in ever more system extensions, or whether it is time to rethink the entire approach. If we take a broader view, database technology comprises concepts, methods, systems and tools for the management of digital information in general. DBMS as we know them are then “just” a special case (which is of course still of extreme importance and will be so in the future!), where together with and next to them other varieties have room, too, and might even have better odds in the future. We argue that database services in the spirit of service-oriented architectures (SOA) would be a good approach in this direction.