IBM's Retooled DB2 8.2 Boasts Better BI

Revamped DB2 boasts improved BI, query optimization, and data warehousing features

IBM Corp. last week officially announced the next release of its DB2 Universal Database (UDB) version 8.2, formerly code-named “Stinger.”

As expected, DB2 8.2 boasts a number of performance and manageability improvements, along with several important additions on the BI front. What’s more, the new version of DB2 is designed to function as a lynchpin of IBM’s data and application integration strategy, facilitating greater interoperability between Big Blue’s DB2 Information Integrator offering—a product designed for the burgeoning enterprise information integration (EII) marketplace—and its WebSphere Business Integration (WBI) application integration product.

Jeff Jones, director of strategy for IBM’s data management solutions, says the revamped DB2 includes enhancements that make it easier for DBAs to deploy, configure, maintain, and optimize DB2 databases on the fly. Jones cites improvements in tools such as IBM’s DB2 Configuration Advisor, a wizard-based utility that customizes DB2 on the basis of a DBA’s response to questions about the kind of application and number of users they’ll be supporting.

Of more interest to BI departments, however, is the revamped Design Advisor; it exploits a wizard-based interface to help DBAs or BI professionals more easily configure and tune DB2 for applications such as data warehousing.

“As you build from small systems to one- or two-way systems, the Design Advisor allows the database administrator to very easily partition the database,” explained Paul Rivot, worldwide director of database servers for IBM, in May. “So in minutes, [Design Advisor] can help you spread the data out across the board. Usually, that seems to be the kind of [functionality] that’s a good fit for data warehousing applications.”

Elsewhere, DB2 8.2 features query optimization technology IBM developed for its LEarning Optimization (LEO) research and development project, called—appropriately enough—LEO. The new LEO built into DB2 8.2 helps to automate, simplify, and accelerate queries without requiring a DBA’s attention. The LEO technology also provides updated query statistics about database use, storage, and performance. Jones says IBM expects its LEO research efforts will pay dividends in the future.

“These are just the first fruits of it. What has emerged in Stinger is a way to completely automate the performance improvement over time of SQL statements coming in to the database,” he observes.

Query Patroller, a new tool that debuts with DB2 8.2, is designed to help DBAs identify and kill runaway queries.

“That’s good for a BI-type query, if all of the sudden it finds out that you have the … runaway query and it’s taking up all of the capabilities of the machine, it will stop the query from running,” explained Rivot.

DB2 8.2 also borrows Geodetic Extender technology from IBM’s Informix Dynamix Server (Big Blue acquired Informix in 2001), which lets it store three-dimensional geospatial data that is both location- and time-and-space-aware. Jones and other IBM officials say the new DB2 Geodetic Data Blade technology should appeal primarily to customers in government, defense, transportation, retail, and other verticals.

Finally, the revamped DB2 ships with an improved version of IBM’s DB2 Cube Views OLAP technology that promises superior query performance. DB2 Cube Views lets users define OLAP-centric metadata—e.g., including hierarchies, dimensions, attributes, and business rules or formulas—that is then stored as a transparent extension to DB2.

Where It All Begins

Big Blue is prepping another release of its DB2 Information Integrator EII product that should benefit from some of the new features included in DB2 8.2. For example, officials say, the forthcoming DB2 Information Integrator product (code-named Masala) will exploit tooling in DB2 8.2 to integrate with IBM’s WBI product. The result: near-real-time access to PeopleSoft, SAP, and Siebel application data, said Laura Haas, distinguished engineer and senior manager of IBM’s Information Integration Development effort, in an interview earlier this year.

“We are inheriting [an expanded set of application tooling] from Stinger, so we actually are exploiting our WebSphere Business Integration family of products. They have adapters to packaged applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft, and Siebel, and we’re making it possible to go through information integrator to those sources,” Haas indicates.

DB2 8.2 cements this integration, according to Haas. “The sort of real-time federated access to data sources … is more tightly tied [to Stinger] in that we do use the DB2 capabilities in the base.”

About the Author

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