IBM bolstering mainframe DB2

In time for the upcoming 40th anniversary of the mainframe, IBM on Thursday plans to unveil what it calls the most significant release ever of its DB2 database for mainframes, featuring more than 100 new features in areas such as fault tolerance, business intelligence, security, and Java programming.

Set for availability on March 26, DB2 Universal Database for z/OS Version 8 for IBM's eServer zSeries mainframes helps businesses automate information flows throughout an enterprise, the company said.

While client-server and Web-based systems have grabbed a lot of attention in recent years, DB2 on the mainframe is still experiencing growth, said Jeff Jones, IBM director of strategy for DB2 information management solutions.

"We're doing just fine," said Jones, adding he could not share specific growth numbers.

With Version 8, IBM is making improvements such as database row-level security, Jones noted.

"It's the biggest release we put out in the history of DB2 on the mainframe" in terms of enhancements, he said.

Storage capacity in the database has been increased by taking advantage of 64-bit processing capabilities in zSeries mainframes. "We can address storage at the 16-exabyte (level), which is an absolutely enormous amount of information," Jones stressed.

To improve business intelligence support, the QMF (Query Management Facility) tools in the database can access DB2 Cube Views on versions of DB2 on Linux, Windows, and Unix systems. As a result, mainframe applications can make use of this function.

"These are automatically clustered data elements in DB2 which make it easier for high-speed analysis," Jones said.

Asked if Cube Views would be offered natively on the mainframe version of the database itself, Jones said, "We're working on that."

To reduce downtime, an online schema evolution function enables adjustments to be made to the database without taking it down. A point-in-time recovery function provides for fast recovery from outages by enabling the state of the database to be moved back to a specific point when an administrator knows the system was functioning properly.

"It's a faster, more granular recovery capability," said Jones.

A database consultant listed features of note in the new version, including schema evolution.

"I've got customers with billions of rows and tables" who need to add or rotate partitions, said Martin Hubel, consultant at MHC.

"The schema evolution will help with that," he said. "It means that you'll be able to add, change, delete partitions for very large tables."

IBM has fixed old errors such as mismatching data types that used to cause table scans, Hubel said. This problem resulted in not being able to use an index.

Increasing data storage in DB2 is necessary, with customers' data storage and memory requirements increasing, Hubel said. "(IBM has) to do it. It removes an awful lot of the artificial things they've had to do in the past" that stored additional data within memory, he said.

Also in DB2, a new tool for WebSphere users lets any Web browser become a zero-maintenance thin client for visual access to DB2 data, according to IBM. Additionally, changes have been made to the SQL language in the database to make it easier to write Java applications. Unicode support, for international language capabilities, has been enhanced to enable switching between alphabets.

Pricing of the database is subject to MIPS workload requirements, IBM said.

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