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Amid PDC Buzz, IBM Unleashes Stinger

IBM plans to preview enhancements to its DB2 database software to help programmers simplify and automate the development of Microsoft .NET applications.

The Armonk, N.Y., computing giant disclosed the fruits of its labor, code-named "Stinger," ahead of Microsoft's Professional Developer's Conference in Los Angeles but those interested may sample the tools Monday when the show kicks off.

The term "Stinger" is somewhat ironic here: the software upgrades are actually geared to ease the pain of developers using VS .NET. The tools, which will be added to future iterations of DB2, will help applications scale up and make them more manageable and deliver better integration with IBM's Rational line of development tools.

The features are the first evidence of the enhancements IBM has for the next generation of its flagship database, which is significantly upgraded every 18 months or so. Paul Rivot, director of database servers for IBM, told internetnews.com the public can expect the finished Stinger product to appear sometime in 2004 but would not be more specific

The news also comes as IBM's Rational and other makers of software tools, especially Borland, have been taking great care to make sure their products are compatible for the .NET platform. While IBM hangs its development efforts largely on Java, it is careful not to ignore the other significant development environment.

Rivot said IBM is working on using DB2 add-ins for VS .NET and Rational XDE Developer visual data modeling tools to help developers design applications and databases. Stinger also aims to help programmers craft .NET applications with the native .NET Data Provider, which provides high connectivity between databases and applications.

"We're trying to leverage the skills within DB2 for more in-depth development with .NET," Rivot said. "We want [Stinger] to look like a plug-in to for the development of Visual Basic applications." Rivot also said Stinger also looks to help programmers build client and DB2-facing intelligence using .NET and Microsoft's C#, courtesy of IBM's ability to host the Microsoft Common Language Runtime (CLR).

IBM Monday also plans to join AMD on showing the public how a 64-bit DB2 server can run on Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems.

While IBM's DB2 product competes with Microsoft's SQL Server database, the company recognizes the importance of making its software compatible with the Visual Studio .NET Environment. That's why these improvements were made by IBM and Microsoft under the auspices of the Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) program in a bit of cooperative competition.

The news also reinforces IBM's promise that its relationship with Microsoft would not be affected by the acquisition of Rational Software, which analysts thought might pose a problem when the deal was announced last year.

Microsoft itself will be unveiling the next-generation of SQL server, code-named Yukon, at its event next week. The Redmond, Wash. software giant is also in the midst of planning its Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS) Community Summit in Seattle from November 11 from 14th, which is the largest user event for SQL Server.

Rivot maintained that IBM and Microsoft are very much still competitors when it comes to the actual database products in head-to-head competition. He indicated IBM was not threatened by what it has seen coming out of the Yukon development camp, which he said includes, for the first time in SQL Server, the ability to handle mission-critical applications and embedded XML capabilities -- something IBM and Oracle have been doing for some time.

He promised Stinger will be farther along than Yukon is when it finally arrives. The current Stinger features may be viewed here.