DB2 UDB Premiers on AS/400

Late last month, the AS/400 became the first platform to implement IBM’s new industry standard Universal Database when DB2 UDB for AS/400 Version 4.4 was released with V4R4. Now other platforms are following suit, as IBM announced DB2 Universal Database 6.1 will soon be available for OS/2, Linux, Unix, Windows NT, Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows 98.

Similarly, IBM has plans to release DB2 UDB 6.0 for the OS/390 platform as well as two new software additions to its DB2 family -- Satellite Edition and DB2 Everywhere -- this summer.

DB2 UDB for AS/400 4.4 adheres to IBM’s industry blueprint -- DB2 Universal Database. This blueprint calls for DB2 standards in the following areas: application support, accessibility, extensibility, scalability and reliability.

According to Van Symons, IBM AS/400 business intelligence executive, the decision to implement a Universal Database system came about to ensure all IBM customers are getting "top-of-the-line products" and provide consistency in DB2 across all platforms.

Released May 21, DB2 UDB for AS/400 4.4 is compatible with V4R4 exclusively. Created with the continued growth of e-business in mind, DB2 UDB 4.4 is designed to support sophisticated business intelligence solutions and links corporate information to the Web.

DB2 UDB 4.4 features several major improvements. One is scalability -- as DB2 UDB 4.4 has parallel back-up and restore, a feature that allows AS/400 customers to back up a terabyte data warehouse in one-and-a-half hours. To put this in perspective, the same procedure could have taken up to 40 hours on DB2 4.3, according to Symons.

Another improvement comes in the area of data access options for Java applications and Web browsers. DB2 UDB 4.4 also offers improved query optimization through Encoded Vector Indexing (EVI), a tool that allows advanced index structures for query applications. Although DB2 4.3 included EVI, it was not as advanced as 4.4's version, according to Symons. "We had one customer with 1.3 terabyte files who implemented EVI and it improved performance dramatically, doing it in 10 minutes compared to six to eight hours on DB2 4.3," he says.

In the fourth quarter of 1999, IBM plans to add another feature to DB2 UDB 4.4, an extensibility function called Object Relational Support. This feature can be installed directly on DB2 UDB 4.4 and provides user-defined data types and functions. Symons says it was not released with the other features of DB2 UDB 4.4 in May because additional testing had to be done to ensure "top quality."

While DB2 UDB 4.4 will be valuable to AS/400 users for a variety of reasons, Symons says the strongest asset will be providing information integration for e-business, ERP, Domino and business intelligence. "You can take an e-business application, put it into an order application, pass the data into a business intelligence application for analysis and then share this analysis with the rest of the organization by putting it into a Domino application so all users can see it," he says.

Although the DB2 UDBs have many of the same features, there are some differences, depending on the platform, according to Hershel Harris, IBM's director of database technology. On the AS/400 platform, for example, DB2 has a level of integration with the operating system different from most other IBM platforms.

DB2 UDB 6.0 for OS/390 -- due June 25 -- is expected to feature performance improvements for utilities, faster application processing, better query performance, greater capacity, more built-in functions and improved management functions.

The new features of DB2 UDB 6.1 -- due July 30 -- are geared toward more powerful e-business solutions. Application development enhancements include a new graphic tool for building Java stored procedures, making it easier and faster to build and deploy business intelligence, ERP, CRM, e-commerce and integrated document applications.