By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2005-05-09 Print this article Print

With the addition of self-regulating database management tools and high-availability features, IBMs DB2 Universal Database 8.2 Enterprise Server Edition relieves some management overhead while still delivering broad platform support and data interoperability.

Available now, DB2 8.2 occupies the middle ground between Oracle Corp.s and Microsoft Corp.s database offerings in terms of features and complexity. Version 8.2 simplifies management of DB2, a database that is more complex and robust than Microsofts SQL Server 2000. However, Version 8.2 doesnt make the significant strides in the area of grid computing that Oracle 10g does.

DB2 8.2 is priced on a per-processor basis, starting at $26,500. This is considerably less than Oracle 10gs $40,000-per-processor pricing.

This release introduces what IBM terms autonomic features, which are derived from work at IBMs Almaden Research Center. During eWEEK Labs tests, these autonomic capabilities delivered a level of time savings for database administrators that was comparable to what we found when we looked at the new autonomic features in Oracle 10g.

Although the phrase "autonomic computing" implies hands-free administration, some of DB2s self-regulating features require administrators to script an action based on performance thresholds.

Click here to read about how a South Carolina school district is using DB2s autonomic features. Version 8.2 introduces what IBM calls HADR (high-availability disaster recovery) features. In tests, HADR delivered improved failover, putting DB2s capabilities on par with those available in the companys Informix Dynamic Server (which IBM acquired when it purchased Informix in 2001).

Version 8.2 includes a number of smaller enhancements that will make it easier to integrate DB2 into companies existing infrastructures as well as improve performance and application development. However, while these features are useful, they largely fill gaps that IBM has needed to fill for some time to stay competitive with other database vendors offerings, including Oracles namesake database and SQL Server.

The new self-managing administration features in DB2 8.2 give DBAs (database administrators) a way to improve database performance by optimizing database design and a way to use information gathered through the Health Center and Activity Monitor to optimize workloads and queries.

DB2s new Design Advisor provided us with a simple way to set up database partitioning, to repartition existing databases and to create indexes. IBM has given DBAs the choice of a command-line interface as well as a wizard within the Control Center management application.

The wizard is well-designed and will make it particularly easy for a novice administrator to step through the process of optimizing performance against indexes, query tables, clustering tables and partitions.

We saw performance improvements of as much as 40 percent when performing multidimensional queries.

While the wizard will be helpful to DBAs who might not be familiar with a particular database, we found it also does a good job of helping to validate existing optimizations and assisting administrators in performing additional tuning of indexes and partitions that have been created by hand.

The Design Advisor provides good flexibility when it comes to acting on a recommendation. We could accept or ignore recommended actions such as creating indexes as well as dropping unused objects. In addition, the tool has nice features for schedule optimizations within the Task Center and for saving out the associated script.

The Health Center has been improved to provide harried administrators with more selective information, some practical recommendations for managing DB2 8.2 and quick ways to make recommended changes. The Health Center has also been updated to allow administrators to set alert levels globally or on an instance and object level. For example, we could specify a threshold for deadlock rate across all databases on an instance as well as execute scripts or tasks to resolve a problem when a threshold had been reached.

Next page: Recommendation Advisor.


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