IBM targets user base with DB2 enhancements

IBM announced a range of enhancements to its DB2 relational database product family at the International DB2 Users Group IDUG...

IBM announced a range of enhancements to its DB2 relational database product family at the International DB2 Users Group IDUG 2003 conference in Las Vegas last week.

IBM executives detailed changes coming to DB2, including the recently announced rollout of Version 8 of the DB2 Universal Database for the top of the range zSeries eServer.

DB2 v8 for z/OS will have more buffer pools in memory to improve performance as well as the ability to make changes to the data schemas without having to bring the system down, said Tom Rosamilia, vice president of worldwide data management at IBM. 

The company is also adding a feature that will let administrators recover previous data in the memory. For example, if the log for a previous time or day needs to be checked, the system can roll back to it and present that data. 

No shipping date has been set, but Rosamilia said that IBM intends to start opening up access to more beta customers this summer. 

IBM has also added support for Microsoft's .net technology, allowing Microsoft tools to be used to craft applications. That capability is part of the maintenance release of DB2 Version 8.1.2 

Analyst group Gartner released statistics to coincide with last week's conference, showing that IBM boosted its share of the global relational database market to 36% last year, up from 33% in 2001 - even though revenue dropped slightly from $2.41bn to $2.4bn.

In the global Unix and Windows marketplace Oracle maintained its lead with a 43% share and $2.5bn in revenue, with IBM second on 24% of the market and $1.26bn in revenue. 

Constant availability

During a keynote speech, Janet Perna, general manager of IBM's data management solutions group, pointed out that Version 8 of UDB, already available on Unix, Linux and Windows, has eliminated 85% of the reason for planned outages.

It allows users to perform upgrades without having take the database offline and enabling rapid failover between servers. "We're building resiliency into the system and taking advantage of the resiliency underlying hardware and operating systems," said Perna.

IBM is also making moves to boost its analytic offerings, partnering with business intelligence suppliers to enhance the online analytical processing (OLAP) capabilities of DB2 and deliver "cube views."

That means end users can access a single OLAP cube with tools from vendors such as a Cognos or Business Objects without having to reformat it. That function will be embedded in UDB Version 8.1.2 and is likely to be available next month. 

Some users were enthused by this feature. A typical customer will have a variety of business intelligence applications in-house, said David Beulke, president of the IDUG and a consultant at Pragmatic Solutions. This extension of DB2's analytic functions will make it easier to integrate third-party applications and, he added, makes IBM unique in the market. 

The cube view function could be handy for resource-strapped companies which need to use various tools but do not have the CPU processing power to easily break down and reload a cube, said Joe Carola, manager of database administration at Siemens Health Solutions, a provider of IT products and services to the health industry.

The division runs DB2 on Windows NT and AIX, as well as on mainframe-based systems. Most of its data warehouse technology is on SQL Server, however. 

The company is now beta testing DB2 v8 for z/OS and eagerly awaits the product's shipment, said Carola.

In particular, the company wants to take advantage of the online schema-change capabilities because they will allow staff to propagate changes across key systems that hospitals rely on without taking them down.

The 64-bit support will also allow the company to cut costs by being able to run more DB2-related functions using less hardware. 

Carola also said he would like IBM to offer easy-to-use management tools, educational training and free resources to help companies running Oracle or SQL Server to migrate to DB2. 

Read more on IT strategy