DB2 upgrade unveiled

IBM Corp. says version 8 of DB2 is the most comprehensive upgrade to the database in more than a decade and that most of the features were built in Canada.

A development team based in Toronto, where IBM houses its third-largest R&D centre in Canada, created 80 per cent of the new version.

Bob Picciano, director of data development for the Toronto lab, said a major part of this version began as a research project in Toronto.

At the top of the list of new features to IBM’s DB2 universal database for Unix, Windows and Linux systems is a “self healing” function. This stems from IBM’s autonomic computing. It is a system which can configure, tune and repair itself, according to Picciano.

Another feature is the Health Center, which continually monitors the health of the database. When it locates a potential problem it notifies administrators through e-mail, pager or mobile devices. The database will also give advice on how to fix the problem.

“It asks the DBA (database administrator) to answer 15 questions. Out of the answers, the system decides some variables for the system,” Picciano said.

This Configuration Advisor can automatically configure a database for use, including tasks such as memory allocation, processor speed and user numbers.

Picciano said there is a new type of online reorganization included in DB2 upgrade as well. “Most of these will make you create a shadow of databases. That’s okay if you have a 300GB database, but what if you have 3TB? That takes a lot of time. This allows users to take a series of markers so no work is lost.”

DB2 version 8 also uses multi-dimensional clustering in its analysis tools, Picciano said. Each analytical choice presents an index, and DB2 dynamically creates multi-dimensional clusters when the data is loaded.

Lori Klein, team leader and database administrator for Oshkosh, Wis.-based OshKosh B’Gosh Inc., said in the past the analysis tools available for DB2 did not seem as sophisticated, but she likes that IBM seems to be moving to correct that with this version. “It will really help them to remain competitive,” Klein said.

That opinion is shard by Mike Schiff, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc. in Sterling, Calif., who said version 8 will give IBM some marketing muscle when competing with Oracle and Microsoft.

“IBM is taking a stand that says it’s making life easier for DBAs,” Schiff said. “That may help reset marketplace perceptions in a world where Microsoft has historically been considered as easy to manage, Oracle as requiring high DBA skills and IBM as being mainframe-centric.”

Picciano said version 8 is also trying for integration with other software tools. “I’m an all-IBM shop, all on DB2 – well, what about my e-mail or presentations? A company does not necessarily want all that information in one system, they want it federated.

“We want to create a platform where customers can integrate existing software and dataware.”

Picciano said the process for bringing all of this together has been a long one, spanning 18 months.

“These functions are great headlights in terms of where technology is heading,” he said.

-With files from IDG News Service