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10/8/2009
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IBM Offers DB2 On Unix Rack Mount Servers

DB2 pureScale is intended to compete with Oracle Real Application Clusters and other scalable database systems.

IBM is seeking to make DB2 more competitive with Oracle by bringing a level of scalability to its rack-mount servers that was previously only associated with DB2 on the mainframe.

On Friday, the eve of Oracle's massive annual user group meeting in San Francisco, IBM announced DB2 pureScale, a version of DB2 that runs on its rack-mount 550 Express and p5 Power 595 servers.

The pureScale DB2 configuration will be available in December. It is intended to compete with Oracle Real Application Clusters and other scalable database systems, said Bernie Spang, IBM director of product strategy, information management, in an interview.

PowerHA or high availability has been built into the pureScale software through research done at IBM's Power Systems Lab in Austin. The system allows DB2 to scale up across multiple nodes to meet increased demand, without only a gradual a drop off in system efficiency. One of the keys to maintaining efficiency is the use of high speed Infiniband for communications between one pureScale server and another, said Scott Handy, VP of strategy for the Power Systems Platform.

Another attribute is pureScale's ability to provide one server with a direct look at the data on another server through the remote direct memory access protocol. Usually the look would occur through a middleman or intermediary controller server, which adds latency.

Handy said a cluster of 64 pureScale nodes will still run at 90% of the efficiency of one node, even though data caching and locking needs to be synchronized across the cluster. While simultaneous read is allowed in database operations, data that is being updated needs to be locked until the responsible node completes the update.

Nevertheless, at 100 nodes, pureScale will operate at 80% efficiency, Handy claimed.

Spang said the ability to maintain high throughput as nodes are added means IBM's approach outstrips Oracle's RAC approach at some point as servers are added to the RAC scheme. "With RAC, more and more CPU has to go to RAC communications and less to processing the application" after building out the cluster to 6-8 server. Adding more servers will drive RAC efficiency down to 60%, he explained.

Both the hardware and software on a pureScale Power server come with an ability to add more capacity. The software is metered so that use of it on more nodes than originally licensed for will result in charges for the time used. The p5 Power servers can be purchased with "capacity on demand," where the purchaser is shipped a server with extra memory and CPUs, but doesn't pay for it until it's time to turn them on, Handy said.


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