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Express Your Business with IBM DB2

A relational database is a collection of information organized as a set of formally described tables from which data can be accessed or reassembled in many different ways without having to reorganize the database tables. A relational database management system (RDBMS) is a program that lets you create, update, and administer a relational database.

A RDBMS takes Structured Query Language (SQL) statements entered by a user or contained in an application and creates, updates, or provides access to the database. Some of the best-known management systems include Oracle's 9i, Microsoft's SQL Server 2000 and IBM's DB2. The majority of new enterprise-class databases are being created for use with these systems. But IBM has just priced its DB2 database management system in line with small business budgets.

Dubbed DB2 Universal Database Express, IBM's new full-function database for the mid-market is designed to install itself with no mouse clicks required and is priced 30 percent less than other database management systems.

According to a January 2003 Market Magic Research study that compared five-year total ownership costs of DB2, Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and Oracle 9i for off-the-shelf applications, IBM DB2 is two-thirds the cost of Microsoft and one-third the cost of Oracle.

IBM's DB2 Express edition for Linux and Windows Version 8.1 is now available worldwide and is priced at $499 for a base server package, with an additional licensing cost of $99 per user. For a small business with 50 users, DB2 Express costs $5,449 — compared to $7,967 for Microsoft SQL Server 2000.

Paul Rivot, IBM worldwide director of database servers, said DB2 Express even gives open-source database management systems a run for their money.

"With open-source solutions like MySQL, small businesses invest more time and money in integration and developing technical skills," Rivot said. "Add this all together over time and open-source software is not necessarily a less expensive solution."

But then again, IBM's DB2 Express is not meant to be a do-it-yourself solution for smaller businesses. In order for IBM to make its DB2 solutions available to smaller businesses, IBM has to make it easy for its business partners to deliver the final product. To that end, IBM DB2 UDB Express comes with numerous tools for automating and simplifying database functions. It provides technology for monitoring the system's health, automatically supplies expert advice, and offers wizards to walk users through various tasks, such as expanding the system's capabilities — which can be done without changing a single line of programming code.

In order to encourage independent software developers (ISVs) to provide DB2-based solutions for small businesses, IBM has also introduced a new partner license program. IBM's OEM Agreement for Software reduces the initial costs of licensing DB2 Express programming to ISVs. There are no up-font revenue commitments or prepayment involved for entry-level participants.

DB2 has also been added to IBM's online Express Enablement Program, which offers education and technical assistance to business partners developing applications running on IBM Express products. Since IBM began offering Express products last fall, 600 Business Partners have signed up for the program, and more than 250 applications have been enabled to run on IBM Express software.

"With today's announcement of DB2 Express, our Partners can now tell small and medium sized business customers that there is a database alternative that costs less to own, is easy to use, offers better support, and co-exists with a variety of computing platforms," said Janet Perna, general manager, data management solutions, IBM Software Group.

For the sake of flexibility, IBM's DB2 UDB Express supports XML, Web services, Java and Microsoft .Net. Further demonstrating support for Windows, DB2 UDB Express simplifies development of .NET applications by delivering new tools that integrate seamlessly into Visual Studio .NET. DB2 UDB fully supports the Windows Server 2003 platform and has achieved 17 certifications, including two for DB2 UDB Express.

Because DB2 Express on both Windows and Linux platforms and is available in all major languages, IBM's business partners can offer small businesses the convenience of embedded DB2 Express technology in their day-to-day business applications. Pre-configured solutions are already available in key vertical markets such as health care, retail, manufacturing and banking.

Ascendant Technology is an IBM business partner that provides an application integration service to medical practices and professional services markets. Its Patient Authorization and Sign-In System (PASS) for Medical Practices resolves many of the acute business concerns faced by small and medium sized healthcare facilities.

Sam Fatigato, Ascendant Technology president, said the company has built its PASS solutions on IBM technology.

"The low-cost pricing of DB2 UDB Express allows smaller healthcare practices to receive market-leading information management technology at an affordable price," Fatigato said. "The ease of installation and self-managing features further accelerate time to value by reducing the need for customers to maintain expensive onsite technical support staff."

Blair Hankins, Ascendant Technology chief technical officer, said for its customers, having IBM at the heart of the technology provides them with a sense of security.

"Our customers get a sense of security knowing their systems are running on an Ascendant solution supported by IBM technology," Hankins said. "DB2 UDB Express will help our customers save time and money — allowing them to focus their resources on providing superior care to their patients."

But let's face it — the best thing about IBM's DB2 Express push into the small- to mid-size business is market what you don't see. A robust, well-managed database should really be invisible to the end user, but versatile enough to provide small businesses with the critical data they need to know to profit in today's economy. To that end, IBM's DB2 Express is a small business computing solution that's ready to get to work.

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