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Objects and Databases: State of the Union 2006

Craig Russell, Sun Microsystems: Hi, I'm Craig Russell, I'm with Sun Microsystems, I came to Sun in 1999 in order to do object to data representation and I don't use the word object to relational data. From my perspective the important thing is how the programmers use the data and what they need. The less important thing is whether it's an object relational mapping or a flat file or a XML file. I like to concentrate on "How can we make the persistent data appear to the programmer already made for active use".

So unlike a used car salesman, which I really don't identify with at all, I'd like to use the analogy of "Trying to get a nice meal at a restaurant". The database is behind the doors in the kitchen and we really have no idea what goes on back there. The health department does, but certainly the diners don't ever see that. What they see is a presentation in front of them and so like in objects as the dishes, the flatware, the silverware, the gablets and so forth.

I really have to say that I think "impedance mismatch" is completely overrated. I give you an example of impedance mismatch that might work: You sit down to your table and you're given a giblet. That's what you have to eat. Out comes the chicken and you try to eat the chicken with the gablet. It already has got some wine in it and you like some water to the giblet, and the peas and the carrots, they're all in the giblet.

That's a real impedance mismatch from my perspective! The way you like to eat your meal, it comes out of the kitchen, it's all delivered for you, everything is in its proper place. You've got the wine, you've got the water, the various things, you can eat it with a fork and a knife and it's all just really easy to use. Easy to use food, that's my objective in this talk here.

So you can think of an object database as the dishes prepared in the kitchen: It comes out ready for use. You look at it, you see it, you eat it. You can look at JDBC as the food comes out in a big platter and it's your job to serve yourself, family style basically. You take a little bit of this and a little bit of this and you put it on your plate. So you construct the objects that you're looking for. And you can talk about an object relation mapper as the staging area inbetween the kitchen and where it's actually going to be served. The waiters are doing a tableside presentation, they mix all the stuff together, put it on the plate and serve it for you. You never had to do any of the work, you saw it done. Maybe a look behind it, you saw it done, you know what is going on. You know the data coming out of the kitchen is not in the form that you're going to eat it.

I'll just leave you with that in saying that there's a real separation in my mind between what is in the kitchen and what shows up on your plate. My focus is what is on the plate.

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