IBM hails automation in database upgrade

IBM on September 17 will ship the first major upgrade to its DB2 Universal Database data management platform in nearly two years, focusing on functional automation, advanced clustering, and Web services deployment.

Version 8.2 of the database, code named Stinger, features "autonomic" capabilities for self-managing and tuning, reducing the time required for administration by as much as 65 percent, according to the company. IBM Learning Optimizer, which allows the database to "learn" from past experiences and accelerates searches by uncovering the fastest route to information, is featured as part of IBM's autonomic efforts.

Another tool in the database, DB2 Design Advisor, automatically designs and optimizes databases. With the tool, query jobs in Version 8.2 can be completed nearly seven times faster than if done manually, the vendor said.

"It's a major release focusing on automation and cost savings," said Jeff Jones, IBM director of strategy for DB2 information management software. IBM's last release of DB2 Universal Database, Version 8.1, shipped in November 2002. Version 8.2 is being officially announced on Thursday.

The autonomic features will enable faster retrieval and management of information such as customer history, product pricing, and product availability, according to IBM. Additionally, automated maintenance within the database performs administration and maintenance such as table maintenance or data backups.

"I am excited about the DB2 [Design] Advisor enhancements," said DB2 user Bruce Moore, director of business intelligence at the Credit Union of Texas. "We've got one table that has 42 indexes on it and it takes five hours to build the indexes as part of our month-end data load.

"I'm fairly certain that some of those indexes are redundant, but I don’t know which ones. The enhancements in DB2 Design Advisor I think will allow me to get rid of some of those indexes and come up with an appropriate design for multidimensional clustering and perhaps even some summary tables," Moore said.

With Stinger, IBM is continuing its feature war with Oracle, said analyst Donald Feinberg, vice president at Gartner. "I think IBM with Stinger is making a great stride forward with reducing the amount of database administration time," Feinberg added.

For clustered environments, the new release offers Automatic High-Availability Disaster Recovery, with automatic client reroute. "It provides automatic failover and rerouting of applications to a backup DB2 [database] in the event of a problem with the primary, so this is an automated way to keep systems up and running," Jones said.

When used with the Tivoli system automation platform and Linux OS, DB2 will transfer information to a backup server within 20 seconds of the initial system shutting down. The database also supports clustering on 1,000 nodes.

Web services functionality enabling the database to act as a Web services consumer and provider is incorporated into the database, although it must be supplemented with IBM's WebSphere application server. Users can, for example, utilize the Web services capabilities for applications such as comparative shopping. Scaling and performance improvements in Version 8.2, meanwhile, make it easier to build data grids, Jones said.

A new DB2 Geodetic Extender allows for easier building of spatially enabled applications for land management, asset management, or businesses processes that have geographical data requirements.

IBM with Version 8.2 is maintaining the same prices as the prior release, Jones said. The DB2 Express product, for small workgroups or small- to medium-sized businesses, starts at US$500 while the DB2 Enterprise edition, for thousands of users, costs US$25,000 per processor. The database runs on Windows, Unix, and Linux operating systems.