Earlier this month, I spent a day at IBMs Toronto development center (home to most of the development team for DB2 on Windows and Unix) getting briefed on the DB2 development road map.
Data integration is the big story. IBM already does a better job than anyone else of making it easy to connect external data sources, such as other databases, Web services, Microsoft Excel files, IBMs MQSeries messaging server and XML data files.
Much more is in store along these lines, according to Pat Selinger, IBMs vice president for data management architecture and technology. DB2 will be able to directly query Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange e-mail servers through an upcoming gateway, as well as incorporate major XML-driven changes into a release of DB2 after the DB2 8.1 release, which is due to ship this fall.
DB2s strategic direction is leaving "foreign" data in its native storage system and using distributed query technology to make it look like DB2 data; in contrast, Oracle emphasizes importing that data directly into its database, while Microsoft is moving toward merging significant database functionality into its file system.