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With advances in computing and communication technologies in recent years, two significant trends have emerged in terms of information management: heterogeneity and distribution. Heterogeneity (herein discussed in terms of different types of data, not in terms of schematic heterogeneity) pertains to information use evolving from operational business data (e.g., accounting, payroll, and inventory) to digital assets, communications, and content (e.g., documents, intellectual property, rich media, e-mail, and Web data). Information has also become widely distributed, both in scale and ownership. To manage heterogeneity, two major classes of systems have evolved: database management systems to manage structured data, and content management systems to manage document and rich media information. In this paper, we compare and contrast these different paradigms. We believe it is imperative for any business to exploit value from all information—independent of where it resides or its form. We also identify the technical challenges and opportunities for bringing these different paradigms closer together.
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