DB2 Update Frees DBAs From Mundane Tasks

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2002-07-29

IBM is aiming to ease the lives of database administrators with Version 8 of its DB2 Universal Database that includes new, automated management features.

The upgrade, which went into beta testing last week, taps the Armonk, N.Y., companys autonomic computing project to enable the database to manage and tune itself, as well as adds integration capabilities for Web services and performance improvements for analytical applications.

To tackle management and tuning, the beta includes two key features— Health Center and Configuration Advisor. Health Center not only monitors the database and automatically reports problems, such as performance degradations, to database administrators by e-mail, pager or personal digital assistant but also suggests fixes.

Beta tester Tim Kuchlein said the capability in Version 8 to conduct more tuning in run-time means fewer chances of disrupting customers. Kuchlein, director of IS at Clarity Incentive Systems Inc., relies on DB2 for issuing and processing debit card information. "Were a 24-by-7 shop, so stopping the database needs to be planned and managed, and the less of that we can get, the better," said Kuchlein, in New York.

However, DBAs said IBM still has gaps to fill in helping users avoid database downtime. Version 8 has made strides in cutting out the need for planned downtime, but IBM next must reduce or prevent unplanned downtime as it has done for mainframe databases, said Martin Hubel, an independent consultant in Thornhill, Ontario.

"It means not only being informed [of outages], but can the software disguise the outage and make sure that there doesnt appear to be an outage [to users]?" Hubel asked.

Configuration Advisor automates the setup of a database, which often requires DBAs to map parameters such as buffer pool size or size of memory and variables such as the number of users and the amount of memory on a machine. IBMs configurator asks a DBA a series of questions. As a result, a setup process that often took about two weeks can be reduced to about 20 minutes, said Janet Perna, IBMs general manager of data management.

Version 8 adds support for integrating Web services information, such as a stock feed or other real-time information, Perna said.

In addition, the upgrade performs some queries up to 100 percent faster through its multidimensional clustering feature, which allows users to cluster information physically on disk, helping to reduce the database I/O overhead during a query, officials said.

Multidimensional clustering differentiates DB2 from its competitors, said David Beulke, president-elect of the International DB2 Users Group and a consultant at Pragmatic Solutions Inc. "The way it does space management for the database and the way it clusters data is breakthrough technology," said Beulke, in Alexandria, Va.

Version 8 will be generally available within six to nine months, Perna said.

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