Though not a very mainstream choice, an object database provides developers with an alternative to SQL that thrives in large-scale online transaction processing (OLTP) environments. Mapping data objects to a standard relational database can be a time-consuming endeavor for object-oriented programmers. When the infrastructure is big enough and data access speeds are critical, it can pay off to not have your data stored in rows and columns.
Versant has been in the object database space since the late 1980s and just last year, it released a version of its flagship Versant Object Database (VOD) for the .NET Framework. This month, the company released VOD 8, which it says has enhanced support for multi-core architectures, better internal memory management and updates to its .NET programming interface.
The major advantage to an object database is speed. The database model itself stores object relationships whereas, in a relational database, relationships are calculated in runtime using JOIN operations. It also helps that object relationships can be changed fairly quickly without adversely impacting the containing system.
Dirk Bartels, a strategic product manager at Versant, said VOD has done best in enterprises with very large infrastructures. These have included telecommunications, energy, transportation and anywhere developers run into significant trouble building a system with a flat data model.
Bartels admitted there was a lot of hype around object databases when they were new, but it took time for larger enterprises to more fully embrace object-oriented programming methodologies.
“When we started developing object databases, nobody was using object-oriented programming,” said Bartels. “What is helping us now is that for the past 10 years, development technologies have really caught up to the database.”