IBM to Release ‘Express’ Database for SMBs

On the heels of several software announcements centered on data management,
IBM is set to release in June DB2 Express,
a smaller version of its flagship database targeted to the small- and
medium-sized business market, internetnews.com has learned.


Sources close to the company said the product will feature automation and
silent install at a price point geared to cost-conscious customers. Express
is aimed at small companies (no more than 1,000 employees) running their
databases on one or two processors. It is preconfigured by business partners
for retail, manufacturing and banking markets.


“Basically, Express will be attractive to those that don’t need all the
features in DB2 Universal Database Version 8.1 — such as high-volume
transactions, full data warehousing capabilities and massive
scalability,” a source familiar with the product told
internetnews.com.


The news comes at a time when some analysts say open-source databases, such
as MySQl, are gaining traction in the low end of the market, which is
traditionally dominated by Microsoft SQL. Oracle targets its 9i Standard
Edition database for the same segment.


In keeping with IBM’s autonomic computing custom, a key facet of its
on-demand e-business initiative, DB2 Express provides self-tuning and
self-configuring characteristics to help database administrators cut back on
management chores. DB2 Express will also have better support for Web
Services and scale easier to other members of the DB2 family that are
tailored to larger enterprises.


IBM DB2 Express will be sold at an entry price of under $1,000, the source said. The
offering, which will run on Linux and Windows, has been in beta testing with
specific customers since it was announced
in February, along with Express packages for IBM’s Lotus and Tivoli brands.


The new Express offerings come on the heels of the company’s WebSphere
Express debut last
November
, and the success of that is responsible for the new products,
according to IBM.


With DB2 Express, IBM is addressing a lower end of a market where
open-source databases — MySQL, PostGreSQL, Firebird and SAP-DB — are
sliding in to tempt corporate and government customers to what they claim
are easier-to-use and more cost-effective options.


While open-source databases don’t boast the same breadth or depth of
features and scalability found in their proprietary counterparts, analysts such as Meta Groups’ Charlie Garry say that’s just fine.


“The beauty of open-source databases is that it ends that cycle we often see
among commercial vendors where they continue to add feature functions to
trump that other guy,” Garry told internetnews.com. “Open-source DBs
are forcing users to think ‘what is important to me?’, and they think about
right-sizing.”


Garry said commercial databases from Oracle and IBM contain some features
that customers won’t even use — or need. He said he expects open source players to lure new government customers who don’t require vast levels of functionality and are looking for an alternative to larger, more costly commercial systems like IBM DB2 or Oracle 9i.


Still, open source DBs are largely applied to smaller projects. But the future is fair game for change, analysts noted. Whatever the sector portends and however it shakes out over the next year, the database market could use some good fortune. Tech research firm Gartner announced this week that database vendors experienced the sting of stingy spending
last year as revenues for new database licensing dipped by 7 percent to $6.6 billion from $7.1 billion in 2001.


For the first time, IBM led the vendor pack with its DB2 database, which accounted for 36.2 percent of new license revenue for the RDBMS market in 2002 on the strength of its zSeries mainframe sales for DB2. Oracle followed with 33.8 percent of the market and Microsoft came in third with an 18 percent share.

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