The lowdown on enterprise databases

What are they? Enterprise database management systems serve up to thousands of networked users across an organization. They run on single servers or multiple servers organized in clusters. Most come in versions for a variety of operating systems.

What's established? Relational databases, or RDBMSes, are the most widely used. They can handle immense amounts of data and easily be queried through Structured Query Language, or SQL. Most support advanced data management features, such as data warehousing or data mining, and are Web-friendly.

What's new? Post-relational databases are object-oriented and go well beyond the limits of traditional RDBMSes. They are suited for managing enterprise e-business requirements. XML is an open standard for storing, exchanging and publishing any kind of information; XML databases could be the future of database technology.

Must-know info? The ability to handle rich data, including audio, video and multimedia, will be a requirement for all database systems before long. Most relational database vendors now provide XML extensions to their core systems, and it won't be long before more native XML database programs come to market.

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