The upgrade, "DB2 Universal Database for z/OS version 8", for use on IBM's zSeries mainframes, can only be carried out from version 7.
IBM told Computer Weekly, "Existing customers should ensure they are successfully running DB2 Universal Database for z/OS and OS/390 version 7 before migrating to DB2 Universal Database for z/OS version 8."
This means that many existing users on version 5 and version 6 (which has only 15 months of support left) cannot jump to version 8 without going through version 7 deployments and testing first.
Mike Thompson, principal research analyst at Butler Group, said the new product contained significant enhancements for users. However, he warned, "There are still large numbers of version 6 users who are coming to the end of their support and there are a smaller number of version 5 users. IBM so far has not spelt out whether it is going to do anything to help them reach version 8 if they want these enhancements."
Jeff Jones, IBM's director of strategy for DB2 information management software, admitted there were still a large number of version 6 DB/3 mainframe users globally. He said IBM had not decided when it would stop selling version 7 of the mainframe solution. Nor has it decided on the upgrade roadmaps to version 8, he added.
Users upgrading from version 7 also face a complex task, according to David Owen, chairman of the DB2 UK Users Group. Migration would require more planning than previous releases, he said, particularly as the software requires companies to migrate to the Unicode standard, which allows data to be read in any language.
Owen was confident the new version would benefit users. "It will provide significant benefits to the DB2 community, notably the introduction of online schema for reducing downtime when making database changes, improved data partitioning, SQL/XML publishing, system-wide back-up and recovery and better Java support.
"It will also allow users to take advantage of even larger data volumes and processing power with 64-bit addressing," he said.