Monday, July 31, 2006

Viper – no snake in the grass

Although pre-announced months ago, and officially announced in June, IBM’s DB2 Version 9.0, code-named Viper, was globally released on the 28th July. So what’s all the excitement about? Well, there are improvements in security, ie much better control over which parts of the database are accessible to whom. There’s an updated set of developer tools. There are improvements in compression, ie smaller packets of data can be transferred resulting in better response times. The real “biggy” is DB2’s ability to work natively with XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language) files. The way this works is, DB2 stores XML files and searches them using XQuery. What’s Xquery, you say? It’s meant to be an SQL-like query language that works on XML documents. In effect, DB2 9 is able to store structured data and, importantly, unstructured data in their native formats. The alternative is to store unstructured data as a pseudo-structured record (eg a Character Large Objects – CLOBs). This results in a hybrid data server that stores structured data in rows and columns, and unstructured data in a hierarchical XML format. The new DB2 Developer Workbench (DWB) is based on the Eclipse framework (another example of IBM embracing the Open System world), which provides the environment in which users can create SQL scripts, stored procedures, XML queries, XML schema documents, and user-defined queries. It’s here that the XQueries can be generated. Additionally, for sites needing to integrate DB2 with .NET applications, there is an updated DB2 data provider plus add-ins for the Visual Studio.NET design environment. Interestingly, Viper includes self-tuning memory settings that can determine the best configuration automatically based on server usage patterns. IBM has decided to ship four versions of DB2 9 – Express, Workgroup, and Enterprise, and Express-C. Express-C is free. IBM is hoping that DB2 9 will have leapfrogged ahead of other database vendors in terms of its capabilities. I’m sure Oracle, Microsoft’s SQL Server, MySQL, and those other vendors will be responding shortly! All the latest DB2 news is published each month in DB2 Update from Xephon (www.xephonusa.com).

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