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New DB2 aimed at frugal IT managers

Undaunted by the ongoing IT spending freeze, IBM (http://www.ibm.com) launched the latest version of its DB2 Universal Database last week. The new Version 8.1 adds new self-managing and self-tuning functions designed to lower the cost and time of managing database systems. Company officials contend that the new DB2 is ''the next stage in the evolution of relational database[s].''

This latest incarnation of Big Blue's venerable database software comes with new so-called SMART (self-managing and resource tuning) automation capabilities, which the company has been pushing as part of its on-demand computing strategy. These include self-configuring, self-healing, self-optimizing and self-protecting functions.

It also comes with enhanced business intelligence capabilities, which IBM has dubbed ''multi-dimensional clustering.'' Clustering data allows users to reorganize stored information for faster performance and more insightful queries -- nearly 100% faster, company officials claim. The company said the new version's federated data management capabilities can allow users to access, manage and analyze data wherever it resides in the enterprise. This feature is also said to make it possible for users to access data and consolidate Web Services queries through a single SQL statement.

A new XML Extender (available in the ESE beta download) is designed to provide data types to store XML documents in DB2 databases, and new functions to work with these structured documents. According to the company, these XML documents are stored as character data or external files and are managed by DB2. Users can retrieve complete documents or individual elements.

New administration tools provide support on a number of platforms, including OS/390 and z/OS server. The z/OS DB2 Administration Server (DAS) provides the functionality for running commands and making API calls on the OS/390 and z/OS server.

The product's launch comes during especially tough times for software vendors. Analysts at International Data Corp. (http://www.idc.com), a Framingham, Mass.-based research firm, are calling 2002 the worst year in the history of the IT industry, with revenues declining by 2.3 percent. Next year looks brighter, according to IDC, which is predicting a 5.8 percent increase in worldwide IT spending for 2003 -- unless the U.S. goes to war with Iraq. Such a conflict could drive down IDC's growth projections by two percent, say IDC analysts.

Job cuts may make IBM's autonomic computing features particularly appealing in organizations where qualified IT administrators are in short supply, observers said.

Tighter IT budgets motivated IBM to revamp the product's pricing scheme, a company insider told e-ADT. IBM's Workgroup Unlimited Server Edition starts at $7,500 per processor and the DB2 Enterprise Server Edition starts at $25,000 per processor.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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