In an effort to give customers more focused control over internal and non-IBM external enterprise data stores, IBM is planning to add native XML support to its relational DB2 Universal Database wrapped around new indexing capabilities.
An expanded beta test for the enhanced DB2 technology, which is currently available in alpha format for a few select IBM customers, is planned for the first half of this year. No official timetable has been set for general release of the new technology—which may be offered as part of an integrated DB2 upgrade or as a stand-alone product, according to Janet Perna, general manager of data management solutions at IBM Software Group, in Armonk, N.Y.
As the proliferation of SOAs (service-oriented architectures) continues, XML will play a prime role in business process operations due to its ties to content management, analytics, information integration and Web services. As more XML is created and its flexibility requirements grow, Perna said, IBMs new DB2 tools will let users mix and match patterns and data with native relational and stored native XML. As a result, queries will be able to encompass both of those data types across applications in the same database.
"We dont believe that all information will ever be in one place, and whats going to be important is providing companies with the ability to hide the complexity of information and where it is with integration middleware," said Perna. "We want IBM databases to be the natural choice for all these new XML applications that are going to be written."
To achieve maximum XML performance, bolstered indexing attributes in the technology will enable advanced search functions and a higher degree of filtering. IBM is also adding support for XPath and XQuery data models. This will allow users to create views that involve SQL and XQuery by sending the protocol through DB2s query optimizer for a unified query plan.
Dave Richards, chief technology officer for The Research Libraries Group Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., said his organization uses XML to store bibliographic data, which requires a great deal of auxiliary table construction to search and access records. Richards said the native XML support improvements for DB2 will allow digital records to be stored in a preparsed form, enabling streamlined and more efficient searches.
"We wanted to be able to support queries that just were based on information in the e-records that had not been indexed. The way we have to do that at the moment is not terribly efficient," said Richards. "[Native XML support] is going to enable us to store things more compactly and access them easier ... and make it easy for us to be able to ingest and then export data in XML when were able to migrate to that version of DB2."
Richards said RLG is implementing a 1.5TB database featuring 140 million records representing books, serials, maps, films and music scores.