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Ted Kemp
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Will The New DB2 Improve Your BI Strategy?

It might depend, it seems, on how big you are.

This week IBM will ship its upgraded and much-awaited DB2 database, a product that will contribute to shorter workdays for database administrators the world over, if IBM's claims about the technology are to be believed. So will Stinger streamline your BI strategy? It might depend, it seems, on how big you are.

The new DB2 relies, both for its technological capabilities and a good part of its marketing strategy, on the idea of "autonomic" computing. And the truth is, database administrators have got to like the sound of what they're hearing about autonomics.

In short, autonomic computing is about technology managing itself. In the case of the new DB2, known as Stinger, that translates into features like its Design Advisor, which recommends the best way to partition data for speedier processing. The component also tunes the database as its workload fluctuates, changing its structure and backup-and-restore tasks as needed. IBM is claiming autonomic features in the new DB2 will cut the time database administrators spend on some tasks by as much as 65%.

As IBM data management guru Pat Selinger told Business Intelligence Pipeline in July, "You'd like to take more of the work involved in taking care of your data and have it done automatically without the need for constant human intervention."

I can't say I've talked to a database administrator who'd disagree. But some market watchers still think Stinger is more likely to score with administrators of big data warehouses than with the lower end of the database market, where open-source alternatives are pressuring Big Blue. Meta Group analyst Charles Garry recently told TechWeb that DB2's autonomic features are smart, but unlikely to help IBM make inroads with the smaller guys. That could change, Garry noted, if IBM aggressively pushes DB2 on Linux -- but we haven't seen that happen yet.

Look for DB2 to make a real difference in the ease with which data warehouses are operated. As for firms whose business intelligence is built around less complex data sources, we'll have to wait and see.

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