domingo, 27 de março de 2011

XML vs. SQL: which database is the right one for you?

Are you the owner of a medium-sized company? Then, you probably know how increasingly hard it is to keep track of your clients: long gone is the time you could write down the name of your clients using a pen and a schedule, or – if you are really computer-savvy – a small, offline application to store their names and addresses. And now, it is time to think BIG. Except that... how exactly should you start thinking BIG?

The best way to start thinking BIG is to think of a database that processes BIG chunks of data: after all, in our era, information is pure gold.

Database Wars: Simplicity vs. Efficiency
SQL (Structured Query Language) has been an industry standard for quite a while, and there are several flavors you can get a taste from, ranging from "free" (MySQL) to "commercial" (Microsoft SQL). Even the free alternatives, however, prove to be great for serious business, being very fast and efficient. Unfortunately, efficiency doesn't mean simplicity, but quite the opposite: SQL can turn out to be quite complex and hard to manage, and should a database get corrupted, data recovering can prove to be quite complex.

XML (Extended Markup Language), on the other hand, was never created to serve as a database: although it is a long-time standard, only a bit more recent than SQL is, it's simply a series of tags designed to work together.

Ironically, XML is so simple that it can itself be used as a database – a very flexible one, indeed: your XML implementation can be infinitely customized through tags and a different array of libraries. As a plus, should your database get corrupted, you can open it in virtually any text editor – it's a text file, after all. However, XML has a major drawback: it is slower than SQL when processing data, and requires more resources to run.

The Bottom Line
If you want something fast and can handle complexity, choose the tried and true SQL. On the other hand, if you can afford faster hardware and bandwidth in exchange for a database that requires much less maintenance and is ever-evolving, choose XML.

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