DB2 to Widen Reach Again

IBM's Universal Database 8.0 aims to improve ease of use, adds self-management capabilities.

The next version of IBMs DB2 Universal Database continues its evolution as a data management system that performs beyond the bounds of a traditional relational database.

DB2 UDB Version 8, which will begin a limited beta test in May, will deliver improved ease of use and manageability features, officials said. These include new self-management capabilities as part of IBMs Self Managing and Resource Tuning initiative,which is part of a companywide push toward autonomic computing, officials said.

As with other releases, Version 8 will include enhancements around performance and availability as well, according to Janet Perna, IBMs general manager of data management.

"[Well] evolve it to be the content manager and information server, and DB2 really is the core of the information infrastructure," Perna said in an interview with eWeek. "DB2 is not only the relational store. DB2 is being evolved to manage all forms of information and to serve all forms of information."

The current release of DB2 UDB, Version 7.2, already stretches the boundary of a typical relational database by incorporating what IBM calls a "federated" approach. This allows the UDB administrator to manage data in other databases, such as those from competitors like Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp., as well as e-mail, documents and multimedia files.

Full beta testing and general release of DB2 UDB Version 8 are slated for the second half of this year.

Beyond Version 8, the Armonk, N.Y., developer is focusing on incorporating further XML support within DB2 as part of its Xperanto initiative. Perna said such support will come in the form of native XML support within the database engine as well as support for XQuery, a proposed standard for searching XML documents. Such Xperanto-related additions to DB2 are expected within nine to 12 months, Perna added.

New manageability features are important to prevent the need for hiring large numbers of additional database administrators as the amount of data needing to be managed increases, said Robert Catterall, director of strategic technology at CheckFree Corp. Catterall would like the next version of DB2 to include features to automate more mundane tasks, such as backing up data, reorganizing data and gathering statistics on data.

"Not only are we looking to do more work with the same number of people, [but] at the same time we want to exploit the skills of DBAs," said Catterall, in Norcross, Ga. "These folks would rather get into the analysis of complex performance issues or analysis of the database or application design."