Big Blue pumps up DB2 lineup

IBM is working to expand the adoption of its DB2 database server, giving users three new options: a specialty processor designed to handle data-intensive workloads on the mainframe, an upgrade of DB2 for z/OS and a free version of DB2.

According to Cindy Taylor, data management executive for IBM Canada Ltd. in Markham, Ont., the vendor is currently shifting its database business towards a more inclusive information management strategy.

“Databases are becoming a commonplace standard, and now it’s what you do with that information that matters,” Taylor said. Last month IBM rolled out a specialty engine for its System z9 mainframe that lets companies support DB2 workloads on the mainframe more cost-effectively.

The processing engine is called the System z9 Integrated Information Processor (zIIP).

With it, users can free up general-computing capacity by offloading certain data-intensive workloads — business intelligence, ERP and CRM — to zIIP engines, instead of running them on the main z9 processors. IBM’s mainframe operating system, z/OS, will direct the work between the general processor and the zIIP.

According to Taylor, users will be able to dispatch workloads to the zIIP without making changes to their applications.

”zIIP allows (users) to do some substantial workload management and load balancing on larger applications,” Taylor said.

Big Blue also says it won’t impose software charges on zIIP capacity. Users will be able to cut back on primary z/OS processing capacity in favor of lower-cost processing engines, according to analysts.

“IBM’s zIIP architecture will allow DB2 processing to be done on idle mainframe processors, thus allowing new workloads to be driven on the mainframe,” said Jerald Murphy, a vice-president and service director at Robert Frances Group, in a statement.

“It’s not just about adding more processors to a resource pool,” added Mike Kahn, managing director at The Clipper Group. “It is, more importantly, about the ability to get more complicated, interrelated business processing done when it needs to be done, and at an incrementally lower cost.”

IBM envisions the z9 mainframe, equipped with a zIIP engine, as a data hub for corporations. The idea is that companies can centralize the data that distributed ERP, CRM and business intelligence applications need to access, and eliminate the need to duplicate and maintain multiple data stores associated with each business application.

The z9, which began shipping last September, lets customers consolidate workloads onto a single machine that can process a billion transactions a day.

In addition, IBM announced a free version of its DB2 database aimed at attracting application developers who might have opted for open source alternatives.

IBM’s Taylor said the DB2 Express-C is available to customers and developers as a free download. DB2 Express-C provides the same core DB2 data server in a smaller package specifically designed for use in software development, deployment, redistribution and embedding within applications.

IBM hasn’t set any limits on the number of users or the number of connections a user may have with DB2 Express-C, and it places no limits on database size.

“It’s an answer to open source, (but) with a migration path,” Taylor said .

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