[TBT] Where Does XML Fit In With Big Data?

[Editor’s Note] Akraya explores XML and its future with Big Data. Currently still a solid truth of Big Data, Systems & Database Performance Specialist, Lockwood Lyon even mentioned XML’s role in busting the myth that Big Data Applications Can Stand Alone.
Originally Published: August 15, 2013

Big Data

XML has emerged as one of the primary means of data exchange over the past decade. In fact, many IT professionals saw it as a trend that was going to eventually displace ALL forms of data exchange.

While traditionally formats that are based entirely on binary or on compact ASCII code sets have found their place in performance-critical industries, they often involve complex adapters and the overhead of conversion. XML has allowed industries to focus effort on schema creation, and then allow standard XML tools to handle all of the parsing and processing. With network and computing speeds at their current rates, it is efficient enough to transfer XML messages in reasonable time, despite the overhead needed to process XML.

Nonetheless, it is not likely that we will see XML become a monolithic form of communication, and to explain why we should look at how XML fits in with the modern trends of Big Data.

In fact, XML may be one of the sources of the need for Big Data itself. For all the convenience gained by storing information in the format, the trade-off for that convenience comes in the form of verbosity. With application servers all over the world generating logs and web service calls in XML formats, it is not surprising that organizations now need data warehousing solutions that operate on the scale of petabytes.

However, the tools needed to manage big data analytics, often in the form of NoSQL databases, only map over to XML in a partial sense. XML is considered to be at odds with relational schemas, which puts it in a camp with most of NoSQL technology. Though, NoSQL is a field of databases that encompass a variety of formats, most of them simple and unstructured. For instance, NoSQL document databases tend to be driven by JSON, a format that some look at as displacing XML, but one that it can map over to with relative ease.

Whatever the place of XML in the near future of IT, XML is still in abundance. It will maintain a presence in applications as diverse as configuration files all the way to mission-critical web service requests.

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