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Mobile laptop PCs The company recently purchased a sales force automation software package and equipped every salesperson with a laptop PC. The laptop runs sales presentations, sends and receives e-mail, and also holds a local lightweight database (SQL Anywhere from Sybase) with recent product pricing and availability data. The database also captures orders entered by the salesperson. At night, the laptop PC connects to the corporate network over whatever Internet connection the salesperson has available, transmits its orders, and receives updated information for its local copy of the products database. Handheld devices The company s management team has widely adopted handheld Internet-capable personal devices (smartphones). In addition to the personal calendar and address-book functions, applications running on the smartphone can use wireless network connections to check prices and enter customer orders. The wireless network can also be used to alert users, via their smartphones, of important database changes, such as price updates or product shortages. Internet connections The company has an Internet web site where customers, dealers, and distributors can find out the latest information about its products and services. At first, this was an information-only web site, but competitors have recently begun accepting customer orders directly via the Internet. One of the corporate IS department s highest priorities is to respond to this competitive challenge by supporting e-commerce transactions on the company s web site.
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Sales force
Customers
FIGURE 23-1
DBMS usage in a typical corporate network
Part VI:
SQL Today and Tomorrow
With data spread over many different systems, it s easy to imagine requests that span more than one database, and the possibility for conflicting data among the databases: An engineer needs to combine lab test results (on an engineering workstation) with production forecasts (on the mainframe) to choose among three alternative technologies. A financial planner needs to link financial forecasts (in an Informix database) to historical financial data (on the mainframe). A product manager needs to know how much inventory of a particular product is in each distribution center (data stored on six Linux servers) to plan product obsolescence. Current pricing data needs to be downloaded daily from the mainframe to the distribution center servers, and also to all of the sales force s laptop computers. Orders need to be uploaded daily from the laptop systems and parceled out to the distribution centers; aggregate order data from the distribution centers must be uploaded to the mainframe so that the manufacturing plan can be adjusted. Salespeople may accept customer orders and make shipment date estimates for popular products based on their local databases, without knowing that other salespeople have made similar commitments. Orders must be reconciled and prioritized, and revised shipment estimates provided to customers. Engineering changes made in the workstation databases may affect product costs and pricing. These changes must be propagated through the mainframe systems and out to the web site, the distribution centers, and the sales force laptops. Managers throughout the company want to query the various shared databases using the PCs on their desktops. As these examples suggest, effective ways of distributing data, managing distributed data, and providing access to distributed data have become critical as data processing has moved to a distributed computing model. The leading DBMS vendors are committed to delivering distributed database management and currently offer a variety of products that solve some of the distributed data problems illustrated by these examples. Distributed data management has also been the focus of extensive university and corporate research, and many technical articles have been published about the theory of distributed data management and the tradeoffs involved. There is general agreement among the researchers about the ideal characteristics that should be provided by a scheme to manage distributed databases: Location transparency The user shouldn t have to worry about where the data is physically located. The DBMS should present all data as if it were local and be responsible for maintaining that illusion. Heterogeneous systems The DBMS should support data stored on different systems, with different architectures and performance levels, including PCs, workstations, LAN servers, minicomputers, and mainframes. Network transparency Except for differences in performance, the DBMS should work the same way over different networks, from high-speed LANs to low-speed telephone links.
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