CA Announces Free DBMS Management Tool

CA's new all-in-one DBMS administration console can manage distributed and mainframe databases. The price is right, too: it's free.

Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) last week took its cue from car dealers everywhere and announced plans to let DBAs take a test drive—on a more or less permanent basis, at that—of its database management console.

CA says it plans to make its Unicenter Database Command Center (Unicenter DCC) available at no charge to DBAs. The idea, officials acknowledge, is to whet their appetite by giving them first-hand experience with CA’s cross-platform RDBMS management tool. DCC is the management interface—the central console—for CA’s cross-platform database management products.

The initiative lets DBAs get a feel for the kinds of administrative tasks they can perform across a trio of prominent RDBMS platforms: DB2 UDB for distributed systems and DB2 for z/OS; Oracle; and Ingres. CA’s management stack also supports non-relational data sources (such as mainframe IMS repositories), but DCC is—at this point, anyway—a relational-only play. Its central UI is a Web browser, so it doesn’t require DBAs to install client software to use it.

CA officials say that large enterprises usually have several database platforms (of both relational and non-relational provenance) in house. They cite research from Forrester senior analyst Noel Yuhanna, who says that very large enterprises sometimes have as many as 10,000 [databases], which collectively require more than 300 DBAs to effectively manage.

What’s needed, they argue, is a one-stop shop for RDBMS administration. “IT organizations are being asked to deliver higher levels of service in increasingly complex database environments, without being given proportional increases in their budgets,” said David Schipper, vice president of product management at CA, in a statement. “By unifying and simplifying the management of these multiple [RDBMSes], CA is significantly improving the productivity of database administrators and enabling them to … overcome their resource limitations.”

This isn’t exactly a radical idea. BMC Software Corp., for example, arguably originated the idea with its SmartDBA Cockpit product, an all-in-one console that enables DBAs to manage DB2 UDB, Oracle, SQL Server, or Sybase databases from a single console, regardless of their expertise on a given platform. The idea, BMC officials say, is that a DB2 DBA, for example, can tap SmartDBA to perform some administrative tasks on Oracle or Sybase, for example.

BMC doesn’t give SmartDBA Cockpit away for free, however. The company might reasonably counter that there isn’t any real reason for it to do so; after all, customers must first deploy SmartDBA Cockpit in tandem with BMC’s other, database-specific management tools if they’re to realize the breadth of its all-in-one administrative genius. The same might reasonably be asked about Unicenter DCC. In other words, to what extent do its management capabilities depend on functionality that’s actually native to CA’s database-specific product offerings?

Officials say Unicenter DCC can perform several native tasks, including centralized schema management (so that DBAs can create, alter, and rename objects in a way that’s consistent with the idiosyncrasies of each database) and unified cross-platform account management tools, so that DBAs can grant or revoke access privileges and assign user roles. Elsewhere, Unicenter DCC provides data unload and reorg functionality for Ingres r3, CA officials say. Its real strengths, of course, are realized in tandem with other CA database management products, such as Unicenter Fast Unload for DB2 UDB Linux, Unix, and Windows, or Unicenter TSreorg for Oracle. CA officials acknowledge as much. The hope, Schipper and others say, is that customers will like what they see and buy into the rest of CA’s DBMS management vision.

About the Author

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