DB2 9.7 Focuses on Costs, Simpler Management

IBM has announced, a bit earlier than originally planned, DB2 9.7 as well as InfoSphere Warehouse 9.7 (we’ll cover the latter in another post). A steady 3rd place in the DBMS market behind Oracle and Microsoft, DB2 nonetheless continues to make gains. IBM claims that its non-mainframe (IBM calls it “distributed”) DB2 revenue grew at a compounded 14% rate for the last 12 quarters. And in the face of a very difficult economic environment, IBM claims 30% growth for distributed DB2 in Q408.

Positioning continues to be around cost effectiveness, the IBM brand’s reputation for reliability, and ever-simpler and more autonomic management (itself a cost issue: DB2 is “cheaper to manage.”) Green, of course, is the new big Blue, and continues to be a theme.

One key claim is lower storage costs. SunTrust Bank claims they are seeing data compression rates of up to 83%, with projected savings in the millions of dollars. IBM has tackled some interesting technical opportunities such as temp table compression, and applied compression to the increasingly important XML data its customers are adding at a frightening clip. Yes, we heard yet another series of statistics about how fast the volume of data is growing.  One wished for John McCain to stand up and rail against the waste of money spent researching the obvious, but this is not government work. However, perhaps academia could take note: Professor, we know. Data is growing. Thanks. No more studies for a while.

Lower costs for database administration are facilitated by moving IBM’s expertise in workload management (long a hallmark of the System z) into the DBMS engine and supporting it on the distributed platforms. Business priorities can be used to govern resource allocation with more automation than ever before. Schemas, columns and partitions are more easily changed without downtime. Unused partitions can be rolled out for archiving without affecting the ones in use – a boon in time-partitioned use cases.

As in other recent announcements, IBM made the increased leverage of other software group (SWG) brands like Rational, and acquisitions like Optim (formerly Princeton Softech) visible in programmer-oriented features designed to cut database development costs. Data Architect and Data Studio got attention: architects and developers can work with major platforms including Informix, SQL Server and Oracle (now, with the new native DB2 support for PL/SQL, the developer already has tools to use with the latter.) DB2 also is now providing more support for weak data typing, to allow programmers using Perl, Ruby, and PHP an easier road to use of DB2.

What’s next? IT Market Strategy expects more cloud support – IBM has been aggressive here in other divisions as well. The hardware side is weighing in with more cost- and power-effective data center technologies. The Tivoli team is likely to make more announcements soon. Licensing is a key competitive weapon, and IBM continues to add flexibility into the model. And continuing aggressive support for, and partnership with, SAP will be a weapon in the battle with Oracle. And who knows where that could go, with Oracle’s acquisition of Sun changing the landscape, as Joshua Greenbaum speculates here.

Published by Merv Adrian

Independent information technology market analyst and consultant, 40 years of industry experience, covering software in and around the data management space.

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