The conference "XML for Information Resource Managers," held recently in Dallas, Texas, brought together speakers and attendees representing standards bodies, major IT organizations, software vendors, the IT press and IT industry analysts. The conference provided an open venue for discussing the issues of extensible markup language (XML) such as the state of XML standards, software vendor plans for supporting XML and the strategies of early-adapter IT organizations that are already implementing systems that incorporate XML.

THE HURWITZ TAKE: Several speakers and attendees noted that the rise of e-Business is driving a need for data and application integration mechanisms between IT systems. Most attendees accepted without question the promise of XML to satisfy this need for integration.

However, Hurwitz Group notes that – although XML has great potential for e-Business integration – several issues remain unresolved:

  • XML lacks granular security at the element level within an XML document (analogous to row-level security in a database).
  • XML is not procedural, so there's no way to encapsulate object behavior.
  • DTDs will soon be replaced by XML schema, and the migration path is still unclear.
  • In some industries, DTDs from multiple standards-bodies compete.
  • Optimization is needed for the overhead of parsing and generating XML code, as well as packing and unpacking XML documents.
  • Performance requires compression specifically for XML.

Assuming that it's appropriate to store data in an XML format, questions remain unanswered concerning XML data structures and best practices for querying XML data.
A few early adopters have proved that XML can contribute significantly to the data exchange and application integration mechanisms that e-Business requires. Solutions to the above problems are forthcoming, since many of the IT industry's finest minds are at work on them. But let's keep XML in

perspective – it is merely an enabling technology, a small (but important) bolt that fastens parts together in the e-Business machine. Therefore, let's expunge the excitedly extravagant and exploitative exclamations from XML exponents that exaggerate the extent of XML to extricate extant expedients for data exchange and application integration.

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