Gartner Names "Specialized Systems" A Top 10 Strategic Technology

Leading IT analyst firm Gartner has named “specialized systems” to its list of top 10 strategic technologies for 2009. While I’m sure Gartner wasn’t thinking specifically of Mark Logic (for, among other reasons, that we’ve not spoken with David Cearley though I do know him from my Business Objects days), I would indeed argue that Mark Logic fits perfectly into this trend.

Here’s what Gartner says about specialized systems:

Specialized Systems. Appliances have been used to accomplish IT purposes, but only with a few classes of function have appliances prevailed. Heterogeneous systems are an emerging trend in high-performance computing to address the requirements of the most demanding workloads, and this approach will eventually reach the general-purpose computing market. Heterogeneous systems are also specialized systems with the same single-purpose imitations of appliances, but the heterogeneous system is a server system into which the owner installs software to accomplish its function.

While this is a generalized description, the point is clear: for high-performance computing, you will increasingly partition your workload amongst a heterogeneous network of servers each designed and optimized for a specific task. For MarkLogic Server, that task is high-performance XQuery evaluation against large XML databases, documentbases, and/or contentbases.

I’d also say that this argument is similar to one that Mike Stonebraker makes: that as you partition your workload against various, specialized (database) servers (e.g., OLTP, data warehousing, stream processing, XML processing, scientific data processing) you will find that, by elimination, there is no apparent need for a general-purpose database. That is, that every purpose a DBMS serves is a special purpose and we will therefore soon see the end of the era dominated by the general-purpose DBMS.

By the way, I’d also argue that Mark Logic has a role in one of Gartner’s other top 10 trends, web-oriented architectures.

Web-Oriented Architectures. The Internet is arguably the best example of an agile, interoperable and scalable service-oriented environment in existence. This level of flexibility is achieved because of key design principles inherent in the Internet/Web approach, as well as the emergence of Web-centric technologies and standards that promote these principles. The use of Web-centric models to build global-class solutions cannot address the full breadth of enterprise computing needs. However, Gartner expects that continued evolution of the Web-centric approach will enable its use in an ever-broadening set of enterprise solutions during the next five years.

As I’ve said here before, once a customer starts to use MarkLogic as a platform / repository / search engine for their XML, they soon realize that it’s easier to write web applications in a pure top-to-bottom XML fashion than in the dual mapping from an XML-oriented browser to a object-oriented Java layer to a table-oriented (relational) DBMS. That’s the subject of a different post. If you’re interested in top-to-bottom XML, then go here.

Gartner’s top 10 list of strategic technologies for 2009 is here.

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