working with xml's

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I have a problem: I build a site the retrieves informations from more
than one portal. I send a request (based on a search form) and the
portal returns xml response. Because I have the same request for more
than one portal, my question is: how can I send the request to first
portal and without waiting for response send request to portal 2,
portal 3, ..., portal n.

Let's say that the first problem (posted above) is resolved and i can
send requests to server in the same time (relative) and when the
server returns the response I work with it. What should I do after i
get the xml, where, how should I store data to be accessed further,
until the user makes another request?

For the second question, my first answer was to store data into a heap
table (MySQL) but I could get back very large results from portals I
send the request and, combined with a big number of users I don't
think is a good idea. The second idea for this problem was to store
physically the responses into xml files, but parsing the xml's that
often I dont think is a good idea either (...and by the way, every
portal has different format for it's xml).

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