IBM Readies T Rex Version of DB2

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2003-05-13

IBM Readies T Rex Version of DB2

IBM is launching a beta program for a T Rex version of its DB2 8 database that will run mainframe applications faster, explosively grow potential address storage and revolutionize the alteration of databases.

The Somers, N.Y., company on Tuesday announced T Rex, its next-generation mainframe. Starting with 32 chips, the eServer z990 will grow to 64 chips by 2004.

The T Rex version of DB2 includes 100 new or enhanced features that focus on improved performance, scalability, continuous availability, application porting and security, all geared to exploit the new z/OS and zSeries architecture, officials said. Officials also said that this is the first IBM product to engineer an exclusive 64-bit solution for the mainframe.

Potential address storage space will jump from 2 gigabytes to 16 exabytes. Virtual storage under 64-bit will enable one, large, virtual space, rather than a number of smaller hyperspaces and data spaces in addition to the address space. Limits for storage use have been lifted so that customers can scale farther with more memory and more effectively. Outages are also expected to be reduced, and monitoring is expected to be simplified.

All this works out to less housekeeping for the DB2 application, freeing it up to do a "lot more real data management, instead of maintenance of spaces and back-and-forthing to the disk," said Jeff Jones, IBMs director of strategy, Data Management Solutions.

"Longer table names, longer SQL statement lengths, longer key sizes, longer character strings—a whole bunch of things have grown immensely," said Jones. Inflating these features means DB2 will be able to bite into gargantuan databases, he said. "Much more can be done in memory in one, big step: difficult queries, large databases can be processed much, much faster."

In addition, in this upgrade DB2 acquires Online Schema Evolution, which enables DBAs (database administrators) to alter databases on the fly without bringing them down. Thats a boon for big databases that would otherwise take days to change, as DBAs stop the system, copy data out, change the structure of the database to reflect whatever changes are being done to partitions and, finally, reload the database, Jones said. This new feature can handle schema changes such as adding columns, adding partitions and managing multiple versions of an object in the database at the same time.

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It cant handle every schema change, Jones said, but should eliminate a "significant" amount of downtime. Depending on the situation, that can mean minutes as opposed to days.

DB2 is also picking up built-in data encryption and decryption. Also new is multilevel security by row that allows for the creation of profiles. Such profiles allow for the creation of security level definitions for groups or individual users that can then be assigned to a given row.

The upgrade also includes enhancements in SQL for OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) applications that enable popular Unix and Windows applications to be more easily ported to DB2 on the mainframe. Also, better DB2 for z/OS support for popular languages such as XML, SQL and Java are designed to make the mainframe database environment more conducive for use with diverse applications. The XML support includes the implementation of XML publishing functions, known as SQL XML or SQLX. Also, query enhancements should deliver responses 10 to 100 times faster, officials said.

Martin Hubel, an independent database specialist, said that the 64-bit news is an eyeball-grabber for DB2 users, both in terms of the capabilities it promises and the hardware upgrades it dictates. "Customers have to plan to take their existing machines and get to 64-bit before they use this new operating system and all the other stuff," said Hubel, in Thornhill, Ontario. "Thats the biggest thing that will affect customers: new hardware, new operating systems. To be able to use it at all, youll have to be on the new architecture. That means existing 32-bit machines are going to be outdated."

But regardless of how much theyve invested in 32-bit architecture, customers will absolutely gobble up 64-bit, Hubel said, given the growth rate of storage. "In 1985, we had a 24-bit operating system. We had no requirement for extended addressing—31-bit—until we installed DB2. As soon as we did, we had the requirement in spades," he said.

Online Schema Evolution is another earth-shaker, Hubel said. "Thats a big thing," he said. "[IBM has] customers that want to create one partition per day for up to 10 years. Thats something like 3,700 partitions. "Online Schema Evolution allows people to add partitions, to rotate partitions on, say, a monthly basis"—all done far more simply and with less downtime, he said.

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