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Emerging Technologies

Database technologies do not exist in isolation: Database architectures are heavily influenced both by the evolution of software applications, and by advances in computing hardware and operating system design. In this column we’ll keep track of the major emerging technologies that influence the software and hardware landscape and on the databases of the future.



We've all seen the movie about the kidnap victim whose family asks for a "proof of life." The proof is typically a photograph of the victim posed with a current newspaper. Blockchain technology is now allowing us to provide similar proofs for the existence of digital assets. The immutable nature of the blockchain—the fact that it is impossible to overwrite time-stamped blockchain ledger entries—allows us to create "proof of existence" entries for digital assets.

Posted October 10, 2018

We all know that self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles are coming. Prototypes of self-driving vehicles can be seen around Silicon Valley, and self-driving features are commercially available in Teslas and other brands. However, there are significant "smart car" features on the way that will affect both human- and self-driven vehicles.

Posted August 08, 2018

It may seem strange to see MongoDB expanding the very features of the relational databases that it originally rejected. In the last few releases, we've seen implementation of joins, strict schemas, and now ACID transactions. However, what this indicates is that MongoDB is increasingly contending for serious enterprise database workloads: MongoDB is expanding the scope of its ambitions.

Posted June 01, 2018

The serverless computing architecture—sometimes called function as a service or FaaS—hides not just the underlying virtual machine, but also the application server itself. The cloud simply agrees to execute your code on demand or in response to an event.

Posted April 12, 2018

The Bitcoin bubble is a mixed bag for blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiasts. While the incredible increase in Bitcoin's valuation has resulted in a huge windfall for early adopters and enhanced the recognition of blockchain technology, it has also highlighted the volatility of Bitcoin as a currency and the limitations of the underlying blockchain network.

Posted February 01, 2018

Of all modern languages, JavaScript has one of the most fascinating backstories. During the early days of the web, Netscape hired Brendan Eich to create a prototype "glue language" that could be used in conjunction with HTML to increase the interactivity of webpages. The prototype was thrown together in just 10 days and named JavaScript. However, JavaScript owes very little to Java—it is often said that JavaScript is to Java as hamburger is to ham.

Posted December 01, 2017

Virtual reality (VR)—the use of computers to create a complete simulation of a human reality—has been an active concept since the early days of digital computing and a popular theme in science fiction for many decades. The idea became part of mainstream consciousness with the release of The Matrix in 1999, in which the protagonist turned out to be living in a simulation indistinguishable from the real thing.

Posted October 18, 2017

The emergence of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology may prove to be almost as significant an innovation as the internet itself. Blockchain offers a mechanism for the mediation of any transactions that previously would have required trusted third parties, while cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may eventually become a significant alternative to traditional "fiat" (e.g., government-backed) currencies. These technologies could eventually revolutionize the global banking infrastructure which has underpinned global commerce for centuries.

Posted August 09, 2017

Although Java and JavaScript are the most popular all around programming languages today, the C programming language remains the language of choice for high performance computing after almost 45 years of mainstream use. However, where runtime performance considerations are paramount, Go and Rust are emerging as valid successors to C.

Posted June 01, 2017

There's a wide and growing acceptance that containers are replacing operating systems as the deployment target for application components. While application modules were previously designed to be installed upon a specific version of an operating system on a particular hardware platform, they are now increasingly being designed to run within a virtualized representation of an operating system—most frequently within a Docker container.

Posted April 07, 2017

Imagine you are standing by a railway track near a lever that switches between two sets of tracks. A runaway rail trolley is heading toward the fork in the tracks, and five people are trapped on the currently activated line. You could switch the trolley to the alternative track, but there is a single person trapped there as well. Do you switch the trolley? The artificial intelligence community is increasingly wrestling with similar moral conundrums implicit in the ever-more pervasive algorithms that underlie much of our technological infrastructure.

Posted February 08, 2017

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