Among the database management systems, I’m most comfortable with SQL Server. But if I have to give myself a label, I would consider myself more a database engineer than a SQL Server engineer. That is because I’m immensely interested in different perspectives on key database technologies, in how the same or similar idea is implemented differently among the DBMS platforms, and in what different ideas are being pursued by different DBMS platforms.
In particular, I find that getting exposed to multiple perspectives on a hotly-debated issue would move you closer to the truth. Technology issues are no exception.
Take for example the scalability of the shared-disk cluster in general, and the scalability of Oracle RAC in particular. If you listen to Oracle, this is the greatest thing since sliced bread. But if you listen to the Oracle competitors, it’s a piece of technology highly limited in scalability.
I happen to have spent the past few weeks studying Oracle RAC scalability under various database benchmarks. And surprise! It scales nicely on some benchmarks, not so on some others, and may even degrade the performance on still others. So depending on how they cherry pick the results, they can all be correct. The truth is somewhere in the middle. But unless you check out these different perspectives, you may not even know where the middle lies.
Now, this post is not about whether Oracle RAC (or DB2 DPF or the forthcoming Sybase shared-disk cluster) is the right way to implement database scale-out, or what should drive the future database utility computing. The point is that if you don’t want to be limited to just using what a vendor ships to you, and you want to evaluate a database technology, checking out what other vendors are doing can help you establish an effective framework for the evaluation.
Indeed, in the middle lies the truth!