IBM Strengthens Commitment to Data Management

After a lull between releases, IBM Corp. will soon release its next generation in the DB2 line, version 7.1. Still in beta, and not expected to be released until June, IBM's DB2 Universal Database has made great strides in the company's commitment to data management. And in light of a new partnership with Hyperion Solutions Corp., IBM ( is seemingly resolved to be a strong supporter of OLAP services, as well.

IBM has taken a four pronged approach in its latest version of its RDBMS, says Jeff Jones senior program manager for IBM's data management group. This includes focusing on e-business, extending business intelligence (BI) through integration, enlisting partners to speed migration to DB2, and developing a new business model to accelerate the application service provider (ASP) market.

When developing the concept for DB2 7.1, IBM looked to its large customer base for input. "So many customers were telling us their databases need better search capabilities," Jones says. In response, IBM delivered a Net search extender that enables high-speed searches and is integrated with the database. DB2 will also come with an XML extender. Customers will be able to use this to put whole XML documents into DB2 and build XML documents from SQL query results.

Besides being able to use SQL query results, the new DB2 will be Windows 2000 certified, able to exploit some of its capabilities. For example, the database will be able to take advantage of the four-way failover capability and Kerberos security. In addition, the database now has a language for writing stored procedures. "This helps with migration. Before we did not have a SQL-stored procedure language, but now we do. It enables conversion of SQL to C or Java," Jones says.

In its desire to extend its leadership in the business intelligence arena, IBM made a bolder move toward OLAP. DB2 will be shipping with an IBM OLAP server and starter kit.

To further exemplify its commitment to extending its BI reach, IBM signed an agreement with Hyperion Solutions ( to ship Hyperion's Essbase OLAP server with every copy of DB2 7.1. "It’s a joint development with Hyperion: By integrating DB2 with Essbase you get both complete together, and compatible," Jones says. By including Essbase with its new database, IBM is giving its customers more OLAP options -- such as more sophisticated OLAP queries, customer relationship analysis, and management reporting -- and it also lets them decide whether they wish to store data in Essbase or DB2.

One of IBM's goals for this latest release was its desire to help the ASP market grow. Under a new pricing scheme, IBM will offer ASPs the database at pay-as-you-go rates, based on a per subscriber or per transaction model. "Instead of large up-front costs, the ASPs pay us more as they get more customers," Jones says. This will allow ASPs to obtain the databases right away and use them to build their business, rather than building their business and then buying the databases. "We are offering flexibility in terms for the new business models so they can take advantage of it," he says.

IBM plans for everyone to take advantage of its new database. The latest release makes it easier for customers to migrate from Oracle Corp. (, Microsoft Corp. (, and Informix Corp. ( databases.

Some analysts see this as a good thing. "By breaking down the barriers to universal access and management, IBM's DB2 UDB version 7 delivers the levels of efficiency, flexibility, and innovation necessary to compete in the Internet age," says Carl Olofson, research director of application development and deployment at IDC (