IBM to Supercharge DB2 for z/OS in Version 8 Upgrade

Company says DB2 version 8 will deliver the biggest feature and functionality update in the database’s history.

Later this month, IBM Corp. plans to unveil a major update of its DB2 relational database for mainframe systems that includes over 100 new features. Among the highlights of DB2 version 8 are high availability, business intelligence (BI), and security enhancements.

“It is the most significant release of any DB2 version ever in terms of functions and features that have been added,” says Jeff Jones, director of strategy for data management with IBM.

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For starters, Big Blue is finally bringing full 64-bit support to DB2. Although DB2 7 supported 64-bit processing on some zSeries systems, Jones says, the version 8 release of DB2 will support a much wider range of z/OS platforms. “What this means is the ability to manage storage of up to 16 exabytes, so up to 16 million terabytes of storage can be managed by the mainframe system,” he confirms, deadpanning, “We don’t see them pushing those limits right away.”

Jones says IBM has smoothed out some of the more “mainframish limits” in DB2 version 7, such as short, truncated column names and short table limits, which, he says, become problematic for ISVs' IT organizations. “If you have one platform that uses short names for something and you’re using long names [on another platform], you’ve got lots of manual effort to make sure that you’re not lopping things off” when an organization transfers data from one platform to another, Jones explains. “To ease that deployment process for people who develop on one platform and deploy on another, we’ve increased column name sizes and table name sizes.”

Also new is a point-in-time recovery process that Jones says lets IT organizations quickly restore DB2 data in the event of failure or data loss. “This allows for very granular and very quick recovery after a failure, so you can get back to where you deem a safe point in time much more rapidly, minimizing data loss and minimizing downtime,” he notes.

Another new availability feature is what Jones describes as “online schema enhancement,” which essentially allows DBAs to make structural changes to a DB2 database without actually taking the database offline. “We’ve made it possible to do a number of different things to DB2 tables, to change the way they are, change or add columns, without forcing you to take users offline."

IBM has also incorporated BI technologies into DB2 8 for z/OS, including a revamped Query Management Facility (QMF) that lets mainframe applications exploit its DB2 Cube Views running in instances of DB2 on Linux. “The notion of Cube Views is providing automation around two dimensions that make cubes easier to manage, [the] materialized query table and multidimensional clusters,” Jones explains.

Although IBM has disclosed plans to support DB2 Cube Views natively on DB2 for z/OS, Jones couldn’t offer a timetable for delivery.

Other new enhancements include Unicode support, along with security improvements, including, Jones says, a new security feature that provides much more granular control over data. “It provides a fine-grained security capability that allows you to secure data and provide granular access down to the row-level. This is significant not just for high secrecy type environments, but is generally applicable for people who have a need to segregate information and control its access.”

Jones notes that while the mainframe is gearing up for its 40th birthday celebration this April, DB2 itself will celebrate its 21st or 22nd birthday this year—depending on when you start counting. “The oldest, ironically, is the database manager that has evolved into DB2 on iSeries [which IBM introduced in 1982],” he comments, noting that IBM also introduced a relational database, called SQL/DS, for VM and VSE systems in 1982. DB2 for MVS first debuted in 1983 and was followed a decade later by DB2 for Unix, OS/2, and Windows.

Will DB2 version 8 deliver the biggest feature and functionality update in that database’s history, as the company claims? We won't have much longer to wait—general availability is slated for March 26.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.