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IBM Database Adds a New Coil in The Market

IBM next month will release the next version of its DB2 Universal Database, a software server loaded with the ability to process XML data.

IBM and Oracle have been leapfrogging each other with new technological capabilities every two years or so in the multi-billion-dollar market for managing data. But IBM believes the DB2 9 will stay ahead of Oracle Database 10g, the last offering from the top database maker.

Now all Big Blue needs is for customers to prove the product's worth by buying it when it hits the market.

Code-named Viper, DB2 9 is tuned for a service-oriented architecture (SOA) distributed computing approach, helping the usually static rows and columns of data process Web pages, documents, pictures and audio and video files.

The software includes pureXML technology, which allows clients to manage traditional relational data and XML data without requiring the XML data to be reformatted, said Bob Picciano, vice president of data servers at IBM.

Instead of storing XML as a file or a blob in a cell in a database, admins can store and navigate among XML in its structure, allowing them to run analyses against the XML data similar to the way they could analyze columns and rows of relational data.

This technology includes support for XQuery, a standard language that is designed for processing XML data. Application developers can use one or all of XQuery, XPath and standard SQL to retrieve data from XML and relational storage formats.

IBM expects adding the ability to process relational and XML data will help customers improve the speed at which they pull information from the server.

"There are some estimates that say 40 percent of the world's information already exists, either in an interchange format or a persistent format, in XML today," Picciano said.

"Because there is such a large demand out there, we think we're at the cusp of something that is really tremendous in terms of opportunity."

DB2 9 has the potential to do well in the next couple years. Thanks to compliance regulations, the market is hungry for new data management technologies and is clearly growing.

Gartner said database software revenue totaled $13.8 billion in 2005, an 8.3 percent spike from 2004 revenue.

The research firm said Oracle's database share grew 7.8 percent to 48.6 percent from 2004 to 2005, with IBM coming in at a distant second at 22 percent on 6.3 percent year-over-year growth.

Microsoft tallied 15 percent of the market in 2005, but boasted a 16.6 growth rate, thanks to pent-up demand for SQL Server 2005.

IBM is banking on the new features to help it gain market share versus Oracle.

DB2 9 will also feature Venom, a storage compression utility that allows database administrators to use row compression to compress data.

Picciano said this approach, which IBM adapted from its mainframe machines, will result in disk, I/O and memory savings for large tables with repetitive data patterns.

DB2 9 will also boast security enhancements, including Label Based Access Control (LBAC). LBAC allows users to set up policies for controlling access to sensitive data stored on rows and columns in the server.

Also, security administrator authority level (SECADM) collects security privileges under one user, providing more control over who can access certain information.

Disaster recovery features in the server include the ability to restart interrupted recovery operations; better support for performing redirected restore operations with scripts that are automatically generated from existing backup images; and the ability to rebuild databases from table space backup images.

The software will also pull data from Oracle and MySQL databases and support Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005.

DB2 9 will begin shipping July 28 in three different packages, each with a year of maintenance support from IBM.

DB2 Enterprise Edition will be $938 per user (minimum 25 users) or $36,400 per processor; DB2 WorkGroup Edition will be $350 per user (minimum 25 users) or $10,000 per processor; and DB2 Express Edition will cost $165 per user (minimum 25 users) or $4,874 per processor.