DB2 Universal Database Hits Open Beta

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2002-07-22

DB2 Universal Database Hits Open Beta

IBM on Tuesday will begin an open beta for the next version of its DB2 Universal Database, a release focused on new self-management capabilities, additional integration of data and faster analytical queries.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., has already been conducting a beta with about 40 customers and partners, but the open beta will allow any user to download the early release of DB2 Version 8 from the Web. General availability should follow in the next six to nine months, said Janet Perna, IBMs general manager of data management.

"This is the most significant version we have shipped since UDB became available in 1995," Perna said.

It also comes after IBM topped Oracle for 2001 overall database market share, calculated for both mainframe and distributed systems, in a Gartner Dataquest survey released in May. In other surveys, such as a competing one by IDC, IBM remained second but gained share compared to Oracle.

With the latest DB2 release for Unix, Linux and Windows, IBM is trying to strengthen its autonomic computing initiative with more self-management and self-tuning capabilities for the database. These include two features called the Health Center and Configuration Advisor.

The Health Center not only monitors the database and automatically reports problems--such as performance degradations, memory to database administrators by e-mail, pager or a PDA--but also offers suggested fixes.

The Configuration Advisor is supposed to simplify the set up of a database, which often involves manual tuning of performance-type parameters. DBAs traditionally must map hundreds of parameters, such as buffer pool size or size of memory, to variables such as the number of users or the amount of memory on a machine. With automated configuration, done with DBAs answering a series of questions, the setup process that often took about two weeks can be reduced to about 20 minutes, Perna said.

"IBM is committed to providing the most cost of ownership of database products and committed to accelerating time to value," Perna said. "Autonomic computing is one way we are doing that."

DB2 Universal Database Hits

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Self-tuning features are critical to Tim Kuchlein, director of information systems at Clarity Incentive Systems, in New York. He has been beta testing DB2 Version 8 and said that the ability to conduct more tuning in run time without having any database downtime means fewer chances of disrupting customers, who rely on the companys IBM DB2-based database for issuing and processing debit cards.

"Were a 24-by-7 shop so stopping the database needs planned and managed, and the less of that we can get the better," Kuchlein said.

He expects features like the Health Center to be helpful for DBAs diagnosing problems but also is taking a wait-and-see attitude about relying exclusively on the automated advice from DB2 over that of experienced DBAs.

"I would imagine 90 percent of the time it would be right on, but until I run it for a while I wont be overly keen to hand over control of the database engine," he said.

Along with the autonomic computing focus, IBM also is expanding one of its most touted features of DB2 UDB—federation. Version 8 will expand on the databases ability to tie together data sources that are outside DB2, such as other vendors database systems, by adding support for integrating information from Web services.

The capability will allow, for example, a user to join data from a SOAP-based Web service, like a stock feed, with data from other databases and DB2, like customer information, to perform a function, Perna said.

"Now DB2 through SQL can evoke data through Web services and federate it," she said.

As with most every new database release, IBM also is focusing on beefing up performance and availability. On the performance front, Version 8 offers faster queries for analytical applications. A feature called Multidimensional Clustering allows users to cluster information physically on disk. If an analytical application requires a set of queries they can tell DB2 when they create tables to cluster specific data on disk, which reduces the database I/O overhead during a query. DB2 Version 8 can perform these queries 100 percent faster, Perna said. The feature particularly benefits front-end analytical tools vendors or users who have written their own analytical applications.

To improve availability, Version 8 offers additional online reorganization capabilities. The Online Table Reorganization with Data in Place feature keeps data in place during reorganization, rather than moving it to multiple sets of disk, making the table available. The features is making use of capabilities already on IBM DB2 for the OS/390, Perna said.

Users interested in the open beta of DB2 Version 8 should go to www.ibm.com/db2/v8beta beginning Tuesday.

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