DB2 Upgrade Propels IBM Automation Efforts

'Stinger' includes 200 new features that push the autonomic computing envelope.

In an effort to accelerate application development and enhance administrator productivity, IBM is rolling out new automation features with links to development technologies in a forthcoming DB2 Universal Database upgrade.

The upgrade, which is code-named Stinger and will be released to open beta this week, includes 200 new features that enhance the softwares ability to maintain itself and provide its own administration functionality.

The software pushes the autonomic computing envelope through new features such as DB2 Design Advisor, which enables fine-tuning of the database as workload fluctuates, according to IBM officials in Armonk, N.Y. Design Advisor suggests changes to indexes and materialized query tables, and it performs memory allocation, backup and restore, and online utility throttling.

Stinger also incorporates IBMs newly developed learning optimizer technology, which enables DB2 to automate and accelerate queries without human intervention by updating statistics as tasks are performed. Some DB2 users said they could envision the potential benefits of on-the-fly database optimization.

"If youre using [DB2] for enterprise applications, I would see where that would really make a difference if you want to automatically tune the system where no application gets held up. ... Thats significant," said Sam Trepper, DB2 unit supervisor for the state of California, in Sacramento.

To make DB2 more attractive to developers, Stinger will offer plug-ins to Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio and .Net frameworks. The updated database, which sources said will be generally available in the fall, features SQL enhancements allowing writing of stored procedures using .Net languages such as Visual Basic and C++.

Even with the enhancements, IBM will still get help filling out its development story from partners. Quest Software Inc., of Irvine, Calif., is readying a version of its Toad database development tool for Stinger. The tool will offer SQL editing, SQL procedure debugging and SQL tuning features to work in tandem with Stinger, Quest officials said.

Beta tester Tim Kuchlein said Stingers support for the Linux 2.6 kernel will improve performance and speed of the DB2 database.

"It raises the ceiling of the hardware, and the expectation is it should be faster, but we should also have a higher capacity," said Kuchlein, director of IS for Clarity Payment Solutions Inc., in New York.

Nevertheless, Kuchlein said IBM still must fine-tune DB2s basic features, such as the time-consuming GUI and command-line prompting issues, to run more smoothly.

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