Version 8 of IBM's DB2 Universal Database for Unix, Windows and Linux systems is available for beta testing now and due to ship later this year. IBM officials claimed that the upgrade is the company's most significant release of the database in the past decade.
As part of Version 8, IBM is adding self-tuning and monitoring tools aimed at letting individual database administrators (DBA) manage more servers. The release will also include support for 64-bit Windows and Linux servers and the ability to reorganise data and do other administrative functions without having to take the database offline, IBM said.
The software's graphical user interface has been redesigned to make it easier for developers and end users to work with the database. Servers running DB2 Version 8 can also be more easily integrated with other systems via Web services tools and XML, said Jeff Jones, director of strategy at IBM's data management solutions unit.
Jones said another new feature is a configuration adviser that can help DBAs set up databases and generate thresholds for automatically responding to performance problems. That will free IT managers from having to set the parameters manually.
The self-tuning features of Version 8 are particularly appealing to Tim Kuchlein, director of information systems at Clarity Incentive System, a company that sells electronic payment systems and services. "Anyone setting up a 24-7 operation would want that," Kuchlein said. "The database takes care of itself without you having to prod and poke it."
Clarity runs its core business operations on DB2 Version 7.2 on Linux-based Dell servers. The company is testing the beta release of Version 8 and plans to upgrade as soon as the software is available for commercial shipment, Kuchlein said. He added that he's also looking to exploit the performance boost he expects to get from running the database on a 64-bit Linux machine.
Mike Schiff, an analyst at Current Analysis, said DB2 Version 8 could give IBM some new marketing muscle to flex against database rivals Oracle and Microsoft.
"IBM is taking a stand that says it's making life easier for DBAs," Schiff said. "That may help reset marketplace perceptions in a world where Microsoft has, historically, been considered as easy to manage, Oracle as requiring high DBA skill levels, and IBM as being mainframe-centric."
Pricing for DB2 Version 8 will be announced in the autumn along with a more specific shipment date for the software, IBM said. The company is also working on an upgrade of the mainframe version of DB2 that will exploit its 64-bit zSeries systems more fully.