IBM and Microsoft Corp. are aggressively pushing their database offerings toward a cohesive information management framework, with special emphasis on integration, simplified failover and lowered cost.
Less than six months after the release of its revamped DB2 Universal Database, code-named Stinger, IBM is upgrading its federated WebSphere Information Integrator middleware to more easily mine and access data from non-IBM sources and to discover relationships within metadata content, said Nelson Mattos, an IBM distinguished engineer and vice president of information integration, in an interview last week.
IBM will focus this year on enabling Information Integrator to provide customers better ways of understanding information assets they possess within their IT enterprise.
Information Integrators OmniFind technology will be used to open up direct search interfaces from IBM to partners and customers, leading toward the creation of new applications capable of gleaning information and real-time analysis more quickly across systems and documents, Mattos said.
The enhanced integration reach of the product will create “actionable search” to manage records more effectively, he said.
Microsoft, meanwhile, last week unveiled pricing and packaging details for its SQL Server 2005 lineup, due to be released this summer.
The long-delayed database portfolio is buoyed by the introduction of SQL Server Workgroup Edition.
The new entry-level database is geared toward small and midsize businesses or MSDE 2000 (Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine) users wary of jumping to the business intelligence-enhanced SQL Server Standard Edition, said Tom Rizzo, director of product management for SQL Server at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash.
Workgroup Edition is limited to two processors and 3GB of RAM; offers unlimited database size and backup log shipping; and features Enterprise Manager, to manage different SQL Server editions.
The new offering costs $3,899 per processor and $739 per server with five users, compared with Standard Editions price of $5,999 per processor and $2,799 per server with 10 users.
Microsoft partners up
Microsoft will partner with Dell Inc. as an OEM for SQL Server Workgroup and Standard editions. Analysts paint the move as an effort by Microsoft to fend off open-source database vendors.
Rizzo said Microsoft took care to offer customers what they wanted most in the SQL Server database—rich XML and Web services support and deep integration with .Net. Some of the enhancements proved to be addition by subtraction.
For instance, Microsoft removed the Workload Governor feature in the low-end SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, with officials admitting that the tool had been too difficult for customers to grasp.
Within its SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition, Microsoft incorporated new features including unlimited RAM; a new version of Reporting Server; and database mirroring capabilities, which create the need for a new license by turning a passive server into an active server, enabling customers to use a database snapshot at a failover site.
“I love it when Oracle [Corp.] and IBM underestimate us. Were coming in guns blazing,” said Rizzo.
“They can charge high prices for their software and for all these add-ons, but customers want value. High-priced database software is coming to an end.”
Damien Georges, manager of database applications for private equity company Summit Partners LP, in Boston, said he is eager to get his hands on SQL Servers mirroring.
“Wed like to use mirroring and the redundancy of an offline SQL Server,” said Georges. “We have an office in Palo Alto [Calif.], and were thinking of using [the feature] as part of our disaster recovery plan.”
Georges said he anticipates some users may not be prepared for the advanced controls and features of the revamped SQL Server 2005 line.
“There will be a big learning curve,” he said. “Its going to scare some [database administrators] to death, and I think theyll have some push-back. Thats inevitable.”
Other features Summit Partners is finding advantageous within its SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition production deployment is the ability to more easily create business intelligence and analysis services, tighter integration with Microsofts Visual Studio development tool, as well as being able to consume Web services directly from the SQL Server database.