Opinions, News and Views on Semantic Technology and Research

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In my first post in this three part series I talked about the need for distributed transactional databases that scale-out horizontally across commodity machines, as compared to traditional transactional databases that employ a "scale-up" design.  Simply adding more machines is a quicker, cheaper and more flexible way of increasing database capacity than forklift upgrades to giant steam-belching servers. It also brings the promise of continuous availability and of geo-distributed operation. The second post in this series provided an overview of the three historical approaches to designing distributed transactional database systems, namely: 1. Shared Disk Designs (e.g., ORACLE RAC); 2. Shared Nothing Designs (e.g. the Facebook MySQL implementation); and 3) Synchronous Commit Designs (e.g. GOOGLE F1).  All of them have some advantages over traditional client-server da... (more)

Why the Titans of Business Are Investing Billions in Semantic Technology

Whether you've bought into it yet or not, the Semantic Web (aka Web 3.0) is coming - and mega-companies are leading the way. Not just the Googles, Facebooks and Apples of the world, but also massive organizations with business models as diverse as Wal-Mart, The New York Times, Dow Jones and Ford. All of them, and many more, are heavily invested in semantic web technologies. One reason: When the transition to the Semantic Web is complete, all data everywhere will be linked in the cloud as connected points on a massive global graph. Unlike data in silos, the linked data in graphs ... (more)

Semantic Web The Next Big Thing?

As I was traveling across Asia and hanging out in waiting rooms, customs lines, etc., my mind turns to the future, since the present is so dull. In our business you always have to keep wondering "What is the next big thing?". The more I think about it, "Semantics" always seems to bubble up to the top. To be clear, Semantics is the study of meaning. But its much more than that. Everything old is new again Note that I did not say Semantics is the next New thing. In fact, The pursuit of "Semantic Technology" is by no means a new pursuit. The earliest research on semantics and compute... (more)

Comparing Networks Semantics in CORBA and Java

The recent issuance of an RFP for "Unreliable Multicast" in CORBA got me thinking about the many network semantics available in a combined CORBA/Java environment. There are at least five already, not counting Unreliable Multicast: Java RMI invocations; CORBA synchronous invocations; CORBA asynchronous and messaging-mode invocations; one-way notifications using the CORBA event and notification services; and the Java Messaging Service (JMS). In this column I'll review the basic characteristics of these services side by side. I'm not planning to rate them as "better" or "worse" on a... (more)

Semantics and Context

Although XML defines each data element in a given transaction (the semantics), there's no mechanism to also communicate the business context. This represents the difference between reading XML and understanding the business impact of the transaction. The use of namespaces, numeric values, and time stamps all create some context when looking across transactions or business entities. In this article we'll discuss the difference between semantics and context and the challenges this difference creates relative to performance and scalability. One of the core tenets of XML is its exte... (more)

The Myths of "Standard" Data Semantics

Much of the literature heralding the benefits of XML has focused on its application as a medium for application interoperability. With (a) the Internet as a platform, (b) Web services as the functional building block components of an orchestrated application, and (c) XML as a common data format, applications will be able to communicate and collaborate seamlessly and transparently, without human intervention. All that's needed to make a reality is (d) for everyone to agree on and use XML tags the same way so that when an application sees a tag such as it will know what... (more)