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RealTime IT News

IBM Extends Autonomic Chops with New DB2

Seeking to pry market share from rivals Microsoft and Oracle , IBM Thursday launched a new version of its database software that bundles more of the autonomic capabilities the Armonk, N.Y. firm has been touting as a differentiator from the competition.

IBM has tied the DB2 v8.1 news to the mast of its on-demand computing strategy. In this case, the goal is to help companies simplify and automate many of the tasks associated with maintaining their database systems.

DB2 version 8.1 database software features new self-managing and self-tuning capabilities to help companies reduce the time and cost associated with managing their database systems.

According to Paul Rivot, worldwide marketing manager for DB2, DB2 v8.1 is fitted with more Web services capabilities to meet customer demand. Through a single SQL query, DB2 can access and consolidate information from Web Services providers, eliminating the need of parsing applications. This can ultimately speed up integration projects for developers.

Rivot said a new Health Center feature automatically updates database administrators (DBAs) on system performance, as well as offers advice on problems within the database or corresponding applications and alerts them that a fix that has been generated via e-mail, pager or PDA. This, Rivot told internetnews.com, effectively quintuples the number of systems that they could treat before.

Rivot said the new Configuration Advisor feature's "autonomic and smart" approach allows DBAs to tune database software that would usually take as long as two to three days in as a little as 15 to 20 minutes. DB2 v8.1 can now set more than 100 parameters based on a few questions.

It is these tuning features, which help business cut down on manpower, and ultimately costs, that should make DB2 v8.1 so attractive for enterprise customers, said Giga Information Group Senior Industry Analyst Keith Gile.

"This helps to show IBM's strength in managing the data environment," Gile said. "Talk to Oracle, and they will tell you it takes a lot of manpower for managing their database. What IBM is doing is further distancing themselves between Oracle in efficiency. IBM has a good handle on helping IT to cut costs. I'm not sure that Oracle has that same philosophy."

Gile said IBM's smart approach to the database to correct problems before they turn into catastrophes is something Oracle lacks. To that end, Gile said he would like to see Oracle answer the bell by committing to smart computing features for its 9i Database.

Moving along, V8.1 comes strapped with new data federation capabilities to help companies integrate and manage different information sources residing in various computer systems and in different locations. V8.1 also features Multidimensional Data Clustering, which improves the performance of complex business intelligence queries by as much as 90 percent in some cases.

To be clear, IBM is not running laps around Oracle. Gile said IBM's new multidimensional clustering capabilities in DB2 v8.1 that better bundle operations between the front end to the back are old hat for Oracle.

"IBM is certainly trying to close the gap between itself and Oracle [in data clustering]," Gile said.

Why the intense focus on autonomic computing? Surely IT staffs feature capable DBAs to handle such tasks. Not necessarily so, said IBM's Rivot.

Due to job cuts and a dearth of qualified professionals, Rivot claims these features are necessary because there "are not enough skilled people out there" to perform the demanding tasks companies need completed. The flipside, arguably, is that there is not enough money in contrained IT budgets to pay those who are qualified for adminstration tasks.

With this release, Big Blue is making overtures to small- and medium-sized businesses with its restructured pricing plan. IBM will offer the Workgroup Server Unlimited Edition, starting at $7,500 per processor.

The DB2 Enterprise Server Edition, which includes data warehousing, advanced clustering capabilities and 64-bit support, is available starting at $25,000 per processor.

IBM's news, interestingly, comes a day after Microsoft boasted about the 10-year anniversary of its competing SQL server as well as its current iterations, which have been released for beta testing.