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IBM's New 'Stinger' Database to Zap Pain Points

After months of unveiling features by the piece for its next-generation database, IBM is planning to launch the finished product in late April or early May, according to a source familiar with the company's plans.

Janet Perna, general manager of IBM Software's Data Management group, will unveil DB2 Universal Database 9.0 during an event at Big Blue's Toronto lab, according to an industry source. The database software is expected to offer enhanced support for Microsoft .NET, Linux and cluster computing.

Charles Garry, senior program director of infrastructure service at research firm Meta Group, said much of the next release has been previewed at events such as LinuxWorld, MS Developers Conference and EclipseCON.

Much of this has to do with support for the .NET development framework, including its Visual Studio and common language runtime , he said. Other areas of support include the Linux 2.6 kernel, Garry told internetnews.com. "They have also added some additional autonomic tools like partition adviser and configuration advisor to help eliminate human error when configuring and tuning the DB2 database."

IBM began offering developers sneak previews of Stinger at Microsoft's Professional Developer's Conference in Los Angeles last October. The Armonk, N.Y.-based Big Blue company demonstrated how the pending DB2 would work with Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET. in order to help applications scale and make them more manageable.

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).

Stinger also will make it easier to distribute and install applications, benefiting ISVs and administrators engaged in distribution and installation of DB2 applications. The software is expected to draw even more from the company's deep pool of self-healing, self-managing and self-configuring autonomic computing features.

For example, IBM introduced the DB2 Partition Advisor, an autonomic computing tool that can be used to split up and boost the performance of databases over many servers in minutes instead of weeks, at LinuxWorld in January.

The feature is in keeping with Big Blue's goal to improve clustering capabilities in its database. IBM said Stinger will support version 2.6 of the Linux kernel, which is expected to improve scale and speed in IBM's database clusters; IBM officials have also said DB2 would interoperate with .NET tools and boost DB2's Java support.

The company also elevated support in DB2 for Eclipse by unveiling a slew of visual tools and wizards to make it easier for programmers to create database tables, indexes and views.

If it has done nothing else, IBM's piecemeal unveiling of Stinger more than a year after DB2 7 is a play to whet the public's appetite for what is to come soon. The theme that IBM wants developers to take away from the gradual unveiling of features is that Stinger will provide more flexibility than any DB2 developer has had before.

Flexibility is key in a competitive database software market where companies vie for real estate based on speed, availability, uptime and functionality.

As has been the case for years, the DB2 refresh is geared to compete with Oracle's 10g database brand, updated last year, and Microsoft's SQL Server, code-named Yukon, which is expected to appear in 2005 and feature greater integration with other Microsoft products, including the forthcoming Longhorn next-generation operating system.