Relational Databases, Do Users Benefit?

An Issue Paper by FFE Software, Inc.

In 1970, a new model for database structure and design appeared - the relational model. E. F. Codd laid out the basics of relational database systems in his article, 'A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks'. The relational model was an enormous advancement over other database models. Its distributed capabilities has fueled the client/server revolution in recent years.

While its solid mathematical underpinnings are essential, the relational model also provides real world solutions to data processing requirements. But, are these benefits being delivered to the user? The database market today suffers from relationally weak implementations and an over emphasis on marketing. The real benefits of the relational model are lost behind a wall of marketing hype and difficult to utilize systems.

This paper examines the relational model and implications for users today and in the future. The first section provides an overview of the structure and power of the relational model.

The second section looks at commercially available DBMSs. The marketplace is dominated by poor implementations of the relational model. Users are being denied the true power of relational today and the benefits of improved implementations of the relational model in the future. Only a very few systems have well structured relational engines, and only one is committed to continued relational innovations.


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