IBM Unveils Final Beta Version Of Flagship Database - InformationWeek
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IBM Unveils Final Beta Version Of Flagship Database

The updated DB2 Universal Database features new self-management capabilities and more support for Linux.

IBM on Monday debuted the final beta version of the next major release of its DB2 Universal Database, which sports self-managing capabilities, extended Linux support, and geospatial technology inherited through IBM's 2001 Informix Corp. acquisition.

The latest release, unlike an earlier beta version made available only to a limited number of customers, is generally available for download. The final release is expected in three to six months. IBM last updated its database software in November 2002 with DB2 UDB 8.1.

The new beta release, code-named Stinger, continues IBM's efforts to build more autonomic computing features into DB2 so that it's more capable of managing itself. That's critical as databases grow exponentially and become more difficult--and expensive--for database administrators to handle. Autonomic functions also will be beneficial as on-demand computing is more widely adopted.

The new release offers a feature called design adviser that recommends the best way to partition data to speed processing. Design adviser also automatically tunes the database as its workload fluctuates, changing its structure and backup-and-restore tasks as needed.

The database also has new query-optimization tools which automatically update query statistics about how the database is being used. The system uses those metrics to adjust database performance. A new autonomic object maintenance feature automatically handles administration and maintenance functions, such as making adjustments to database tables or running data back-ups. And the new DB2 client-reroute feature switches users to a mirrored database if a server fails or is shut down for planned maintenance.

"The autonomic features are going to make my life easier," says Tim Kuchlein, information systems director at Clarity Payment Solutions Inc., a debit-card payment services company that has been experimenting with the early beta version.

The beta software supports version 2.6 of the Linux kernel which, in turn, will improve the performance of DB2 running on clusters of Linux servers. "Support for the Linux 2.6 kernel is huge," Kuchlein says, noting that his company's processing system, which uses DB2 at its core, needs to be up and running 24 hours a day.

IBM sees Linux as a battleground between itself and Oracle, says Mike Schiff, an analyst at Current Analysis. Microsoft's SQL Server, the other major competitor in the database market, only supports Windows.

Although the current release of DB2 has limited support for geospatial data, the new geodetic extender feature in the beta release supports three-dimensional data, such as treating the Earth like a globe rather than a flat map, and understands time concepts like time zones and the international date line. That makes it easier to develop complex software for applications such as land management that require geographical and time-based data.

Geodetic extender is based on technology from Informix which IBM acquired in 2001. Although IBM vows to continue developing and supporting the Informix database as long as customers demand, Schiff says IBM is slowly but surely morphing Informix's technology into DB2 to the point that one day they will be indistinguishable.

The new DB2 also supports SQL statements as big as 2 megabytes, up from 64 kilobytes today. And the database offers enhanced support for IT systems based on service-oriented architectures.

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