IBM has rebranded its content management software under the DB2 name as it looks to use its database, along with emerging XML standards, to merge relational data and unstructured content more easily.
At an event here last week, IBM released Version 8.2 of Content Manager, now known as DB2 Content Manager, featuring faster search and retrieval capabilities, thanks to tighter links between the DB2 databases object layer and DB2 Content Managers metadata repository.
Combining structured and unstructured data is possible now, but the technology is still fairly immature and awaits development of a standard for how structured and unstructured data result sets would be fused, said Jim Reimer, an IBM Distinguished Engineer and the research and development expert for Content Manager.
"The need is clear for at least the concept, in places like [customer relationship management], where you have both relational databases and documents, and seeing the structured and unstructured data together is important," Reimer said. "Increasingly, using that data together will be important."
IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., supports emerging standards XML Query, XML Path Language and Java Specification Request 170. Reimer said, however, it will take more than a year before any of those standards become widely accepted.
DB2 isnt the only piece of IBM software that is drawing closer to Content Manager. Version 8.2 also supports tighter integration with IBMs WebSphere Portal Server for content publishing. And, as collaboration applications from IBMs Lotus Software division become available as Java-based Web services, those applications will be available from within Content Manager, rather than as separate services running outside the application, officials said.
"We provide access to the information, and Lotus provides the user experience," said Janet Perna, general manager of the Data Management Software Group at IBM, who is overseeing the database/content management integration effort. "Whether we brand that as Content Manager or keep the Lotus brand hasnt been decided yet."
Some users hope that IBMs infusion of DB2 throughout the rest of its information management portfolio wont stop at the brand.
"I assume someday theyll all be one product," said Jim Glavan, director of IS at Acuity Inc., a Sheboygan, Wis., insurance company that uses DB2, DB2 Content Manager and DB2 Content Manager OnDemand. "I would expect them to merge all three of those products together."
Acuity uses Content Manager and Content Manager OnDemand to store documents and images electronically and run federated searches of those and other repositories from IBMs Enterprise Information Portal product.
Merging DB2, DB2 Content Manager and DB2 Content Manager OnDemand would bring licensing benefits to Acuity, Glavan said. It should also make application management easier. "Its a lot easier to focus on the function of one product rather than three different products," he said. "Id rather have to worry about that than worry about separate things on each product."
IBM officials said that Content Manager and Content Manager OnDemand will likely be merged into a single product, but that it is too early to tell if that product would be merged into DB2.
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