IBMs On-Demand Conversation Getting Stale

Opinion: Analyst Charles Barouch finds IBM's Information on Demand 2007 a little smarter and sophisticated, but it sounds an awful lot like IOD 2006 Redux.

When I stepped onto the exhibition floor of the IBM Information On Demand show for 2007, I expected to be surrounded by people talking about new things. I eventually found those people, but mostly what I saw was IOD 2006 redux.

The answers were smarter, the approaches were more sophisticated, and the software was more evolved, but the 2007 felt like the continuation of a conversation I had last year. This isnt a bad thing; it speaks to the maturity of certain market segments, but it wasnt the sea of new ideas I had expected.

DB2 Express-C, which was launched shortly before last years show, has evolved into something that should be on a lot of developers radar.

Unlike many of the free offerings in the database arena, The Express-C version of DB2 has no deployment limitations. IBM will actually allow you to deploy commercial applications on their free release.

I spoke to Leon Katsnelson, program director for data servers at IBM, about this and he told me that if you choose to pay a support license, you can deploy smart replication with filtering and aggregation and clustering, and even HADR (High Availability and Disaster Recovery), with your application. However, if you dont require those features, you have no obligation whatsoever.

Perhaps the most interesting news on this product is that it is going to be beta released on the Mac later this month. IBM intends to support this Express-C version in lock step with the other editions of DB2. The company was emphatic that this wont be a one-shot, rapidly aging experiment, and it intends to keep the free offering up to date.

This insist that DB2 code will work on Express-C without modification and that Express-C code will work on DB2. This means that you could develop on an Apple MacBook Pro and deploy on Linux or AIX.

Talking to Leon led me to talk to Zend, the PHP folks, who are now using this new set of rules to distribute DB2 Express-C embedded in Zend Core 2.5. They are making related moves with a number of other technology houses, but since this was an IBM show, they were somewhat circumspect. Zen Core 2.5 is available and represents the newest version of their PHP stack.

Once I spoke to the Zend folks, I was shown the IBM mashup starter kit, which is an IBM deployment of Zend and DB2 Express-C, designed to facilitate mashups (database applications with wildly disparate sources). Info 2.0, the IBM initiative which has brought the mashup kit into the light of day, is being actively evangelized.

Within a few minutes of showing interest, I found myself talking to Anant Jhingran, chief technology officer for the information management division of IBM. He was quick to point out that mashups are an application of Info 2.0, but certainly not the whole story. His vision encompasses everything from wikis and RSS feeds to social networks and quantum shifts in how data is managed. When I said the words user ownership of data he smiled encouragingly.

Thinking about mashups made me think about data security and quality of information, so I went to Neons booth and spent some time with Craig Mullins, who offered a different view of data.

Neon has added a new focus to their portfolio. They want to take data controls within the company to a new level. Titan Archive is their reinvention of the data warehouse as a compliance engine. It allows for digitally signed data, with read-only permissions and built-in compliance with over 160 government regulations, going beyond the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to EU issues and other initiatives from around the world.

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