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Objects in Store

When it comes to optimizing storage space, features like faster hardware, virtualization, and capacity monitoring come to mind. But for some IT pros, there's another aspect to making the most of storage -- programming based on object-oriented databases.

Example: In a pre-Thanksgiving announcement, Versant, which makes object-oriented database software, touted the use of its wares by the Herschel Space Observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA). A space station 3.5 meters in diameter, planned for launch in mid-2007, will coast to a point 1 million miles from earth, from which it will transmit data for four years to a series of synchronized Versant databases. (See Versant Protects ESA's Observatory.)

Cool stuff. But besides the science involved, the ESA touts the efficiency of being able to directly access data inside the Versant database without relying on metadata -- so-called "data about data." This will streamline the project, according to Johannes Riedinger, Development Manager of the Herschel Science Centre at ESA's Technology and Research Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, Netherlands. In a prepared statement, he says: "We have been told by the national instrument teams that this [object-oriented database] technology will help them to lower the threshold in correlating data to environmental influences."

A Versant spokesman says that streamlining processing and cutting down on metadata also equates to reduced storage requirements.

"We take up less room," says Robert Greene, VP of product strategy at Versant. "We require about 50 percent of the storage space of relational databases."

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