New management system seen making it easier to integrate multimedia products

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 December, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 December, 1997, 12:00am

Computer Associates (CA) will be hoping its new object database management system, Jasmine, will get the jump on its rivals with new technologies that few other database makers have fully implemented.

In the early days of computer databases, everything was based on columns or tabular data.

This was known as a 'relational' database because the columns could be related to each other if they had something in common.

Over the past few years, however, programmers have become enamoured of what is called 'object-oriented programming', which is based on icons and pictures, and now databases are becoming 'object' databases.

Charles Wang, chairman and chief executive at CA, said it was time that object technologies finally were implemented.

'For years, object technology has been long on promise and short on reality, forcing programmers to learn complex languages and cobble together non-integrated databases and tools,' he said.

It is in the increasingly important area of multimedia, however, where this technology will shine, according to K. C. Tang, alliance and product marketing manager for CA.

'Multimedia is making it easier for IT managers to create new systems,' he said.

With Jasmine, it also would be easier to integrate the multimedia products with the Internet, he said, something nearly everybody was interested in these days.

Mr Tang said that Jasmine had all the requirements for mission-critical solutions, or those that were essential to businesses that could not afford to have their systems go down.

Although Mr Tang did not mention Oracle, the world's largest database company, he did criticise the firm's approach to dealing with objects.

Oracle has opted for a technology called 'object relational' that it claims bridges the gap between the old and the new.

Mr Tang was not convinced. 'Object relational database [management systems] are inefficient and require 30 per cent more code,' he said.

Jasmine has been in development for more than 10 years, in a co-operative team effort by CA and Fujitsu.

Sales director for Fujitsu Hong Kong John Coham said the Japanese had embarked on this project a decade ago with typical thoroughness.

The end result spoke for itself, he said.

'Since 1995, CA and Fujitsu have worked together. We do not believe that this technology can be rivalled anywhere else,' he said.

Two multimedia database demonstrations were shown, one of which was a system for determining the accessories one might want to add to a Toyota Rav4 (Toyota has a Jasmine system running in Australia).

The demonstration showed how it was possible to look at the car in different colours, add a CD player and other typical accessories.

When it was pointed out that nearly every database maker had a similar demonstration, Mr Coham said that the real test was in how quickly and easily Jasmine made it for non-programmers to create the same thing.

The Jasmine system will be used next year at the City University of Hong Kong in teaching on databases.

Mr Tang was keen to see Hong Kong become stronger in software development.

'We are looking to help Hong Kong become a developer centre, in line with [Chief Executive] Tung Chee-hwa's stated goals,' he said.



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