Big Blue launches Stinger into database management

IBM Corp. announced that it will release the latest version of its DB2 software this month. The DB2 Universal Database version 8.2 software, code-named Stinger, offers a host of automation tools IBM hopes will provide an edge in the ongoing database management marketplace.

DB2 version 8.2 will be available Sept. 17, IBM said.

IBM has been touting its autonomic computing initiative – referring to systems that are self-configured and salfe managed – as a key component of the Armonk, N.Y. firm’s product strategy. DB2 version 8.2 is a significant update of the DB2 database, Jeff Jones, strategy director for information management (IBM Data Management Solutions) told ITWorld Canada.

The “self-tuning” technology is designed to allow systems to manage themselves and to dynamically adapt to evolving business policies and objectives.

Jones said the autonomic features are designed to offer faster retrieval and management of information such as customer history, product pricing, and product availability. For example, in theory the system would automatically troubleshoot potential issues and act accordingly, rather than waiting for IT professionals to initiate the process. This allows the technology to manage a range of more mundane operations, IBM said.

According to IBM, Linux clustering within Stinger enables automatic partitioning and optimization of large databases on many servers in minutes instead of hours. Stinger supports 64-bit Linux on the iSeries, formerly AS/400, and pSeries, formerly the RS/6000, hardware platforms. The new functionality is also intended to improve DB2 performance within Linux environments.

Beta tester Wayne King noted that Stinger should help database administrators cut down on optimization tasks and manual backup. King, president of knowledge and information management solutions provider Knowledge Genus Corp. in Ottawa, said the firm is using Stinger as a repository for data and metadata at the back end for its Lotus applications.

Knowledge Genus operates within a multi-platform environment, King said. So far, Stinger’s performance appears to be the same across the board whether it is running on Windows, Linux or AIX, he added.

As opposed to previous versions of DB2, “it’s basically the same interface, same commands and same set up so you don’t have to learn two different interfaces,” King said. The firm deals with a lot of integration projects, which is where the new autonomic features will come in handy, he added. “If the database is doing a lot of work itself or at least notifying users, we don’t have to spend as many hours tuning the database.”

Another key Stinger feature is the IBM Learning Optimizer, which speeds up command execution by allowing to database to learn from past actions and optimize access to critical business data, IBM said. The software can be deployed via Microsoft .Net and Java; IBM has also embedded Web services functionality by embedding the application server within the database.

Other features include the Design Advisor tool, which automatically optimizes the database structure, handling administration functions including data backups and table maintenance. In addition, IBM has incorporated autonomic and disaster recovery tools for server-clustered environments. IBM claims the autonomic capabilities enable enterprises to lower database operating costs and cut down the time spent on administrative duties by 65 per cent.

The Stinger upgrade faces competition from rival vendors, including Oracle Corp., which unveiled its second-generation 10g database software earlier this year. By providing cross-platform support for Stinger, IBM hopes to gain an edge over Oracle and Microsoft Corp. Microsoft recently announced that SQL Server 2005, code-named Yukon, is currently in the second beta release and is slated to be available in the first half of next year.

Pricing starts at US$500 for the small and midsize business version and US$25,000 for the DB2 Enterprise edition.

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