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IBM Aims New DB2 at Rivals

IBM announced its first major database refresh in almost two years with new features from the company's autonomic computing vault.

Fresh out of beta testing, DB2 Universal Database 8.2 is loaded with automatic self-managing and self-tuning features that promise to go beyond what rivals Oracle and Microsoft currently provide in their database products.

According to Jeff Jones, director of strategy DB2 Information Management Software, DB2 8.2 should be attractive to customers because of the wealth of new features in the finished product that allow database administrators to attend to other tasks in the data center.

Autonomic computing, the company's technology for helping computer systems self-manage and regulate themselves, is at the forefront of the new technologies in the product, formerly code-named Stinger.

Jones said DB2 8.2, which runs on Windows, Unix, and Linux, marks the one-hundredth IBM product release with autonomic computing technologies, of which the concern has 415 total features in 50 products.

While that might not mean much for the industry on the whole, it means a lot to IBM, which is using autonomic computing as a way to become a major force in the on-demand computing market.

Self-managing features play a big part in on-demand computing, which calls for less hands-on activity from technical administrators and more automated software functions to keep infrastructure running in tip-top shape.

"Everything must be a whole lot easier to administer and easier to integrate with other middleware components," Jones told internetnews.com. "You need this automation to make middleware something that sticks together and requires less attention from the customers. This is what the on-demand operating environment is about and where DB2 fits."

Two autonomic highpoints in DB2 8.2 are the IBM Learning Optimizer (LEO), which Jones said allows the database to "learn" from past experiences and accelerate searches by uncovering the fastest route to information, and DB2 Design Advisor, a tool that automatically designs and optimizes the database.

LEO also continually updates query statistics about the database's performance and how it is being used. Moreover, searches that once took days to complete can be done in seconds with LEO, a more intuitive software program than other search tools.

As for competing tuning technologies from Oracle and Microsoft, Jones asserted that those databases force administrators to constantly tell the database how to optimize queries. LEO and Design Advisor tune the database on demand as the workload fluctuates.

This frees up database administrators to complete query jobs nearly seven times faster than they can be done manually. The new version also performs automatic maintenance updates, including data back-ups.

New research from Meta Group notes that autonomic software can help reduce time-consuming tasks by up to 80 percent. This is crucial at a time when manpower in IT departments is lower than it has been in the last several years.

DB2 8.2 will be generally available September 17 and will start at $500 per processor for the DB2 Express version and $25,000 per processor for DB2 Enterprise edition.