IBM to ship DB2 upgrade in November

IBM Corp. Tuesday announced it will release on Nov. 21 the next update to its DB2 Universal Database 8.0, and touted new features aimed at easing installation and administration and improving the performance of business intelligence applications.

Big Blue also disclosed new pricing and packaging for the product. It currently offers an enterprise edition for US$20,000 per CPU, and an extended enterprise edition, which includes clustering capabilities, for US$25,000 per CPU.

With the release of DB2 Version 8, IBM will offer a single enterprise edition for US$20,000 per CPU, with clustering available as an add-on option for US$7,500 per CPU.

“There’s a little bump in price for the enterprise version, but we added 432 new features to this release. This is a major, major upgrade for us,” said Jeff Jones, director of strategy at IBM’s data management solutions unit.

New to Version 8 is what the company calls “multi-dimensional clustering,” intended to boost the performance of business intelligence applications. Data from various parts of the database related to a single application or query can be stored together on a disk inside DB2, making analytical queries run faster, Jones said.

“The DBA and the application crew define what columns and data are part of the multidimensional cluster,” he said.

Extending its “federation” capabilities, IBM also made it possible to gather data stored across multiple databases that relates to a single application and to store that data locally for faster access. The existing version of DB2 could do this for multiple DB2 databases but not for competitor products from the likes of Oracle and Microsoft. Version 8 will make it possible to federate data from its rivals’ databases, Jones said.

In addition to publishing Web services information as the current DB2 release can do, Version 8 will also be able to consume Web services data for use by applications, Jones said. For example, DB2 Version 8 will be able to run a financial query that makes use of a stock quote offered over the Web as a real-time Web services feed, he said.

Version 8 will not, however, support the emerging XQuery specification, which is being backed by most major database vendors and should allow databases to manipulate XML data as if it were relational data. IBM has been showing off DB2’s XQuery capabilities since around June in an online demonstration, but support for the language will not be included in a commercial release just yet.

“XQuery is a very large project and it will take a few more versions [of DB2] to get that in,” he said.

Instead, IBM extended SQL in various ways to boost its ability to handle XML data, allowing for such functions as schema validation and style transformation, he said.

IBM’s goal with Version 8 was partly to attract more small- and mid-sized businesses, and the new pricing and packaging also reaches that market. For smaller companies or for departments within large enterprises, IBM will offer a workgroup edition of DB2 Version 8 for US$7,500 per CPU, down from US$14,000 for the current version. And it introduced a per-user option, priced at US$969 per server plus US$249 per named user, Jones said.

One discovery IBM has made during the beta program is that testers are not yet ready to yield control to self-managing databases, which take corrective actions without human intervention based on pre-set parameters – at least not yet. “The DBA is not quite ready for the database to correct itself,” Jones said.

“They believe DB2 will correct itself [eventually] but they want [for now] to see what DB2 is suggesting” as far as actions to improve performance, said Jones. DB2 can suggest changes such as in how data is organized on the disk or buffer pool changes.

DB2 Version 8 has been in public beta since July. It will be generally available in November for HP-UX, AIX, Linux, and all Windows platforms. The release date for IBM’s OS/390 operating system has not been set.