Re: Why is database integrity so impopular ?

From: Roy Hann <specially_at_processed.almost.meat>
Date: Thu, 09 Oct 2008 03:38:38 -0500
Message-ID: <> wrote:

> Hello,
> When time comes to build transactional databases (as opposed to data
> wharehouses), I belong to the school that STRONGLY believe in
> normalizing data with high integrity mechanisms. I know all the
> performance cons but IMHO, pros largely overwhelme.
> It amazes me, though, how many systems rely on the application to
> manage data integrity. I work as IT director for a large-size
> manufacturer and *none* of our applications use integrity. And I am
> talking here of ERP and other mission-critical systems.
> In fact, I had rarely open a database properly normalized and
> inforced ... and I have been working with databases for over 10 years,
> mostly in sectors where lack of integrity can result in dramatic
> consequences.
> What is wrong with modern DB design approaches? And what's the point
> of using a big relational DB without the benefits of integrity and
> normalization?

I am afraid I have to confess (not for the first time) that I am a prostitute. I work for the kind of company that builds the kind of systems you use.

If we ever submitted a bid that included a plan to do a lot of up-front analysis and up-front database definition (including all the constraints we could discover, but minus the ones SQL can't even describe), before we ever delivered a line of executable application code, we would lose out to the company that didn't bother with all that fancy nonsense. And that would be true even if our overall bid was lower.

This is not speculation. It happened repeatedly until we were starved into submission. The only very slight satisfaction I have is that one of our present customers once rejected one of our early proposals, for exactly the reasons I listed, and the IT director was kind enough to tell me recently that if he had to do that project over again he'd do it the way we had offered to do it.

But in general, you can't sell pearls to pigs. (And if you're not a pig don't expect to buy pearls from a pig-swill merchant.)

Received on Thu Oct 09 2008 - 10:38:38 CEST

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