IBM today announced new software designed to help customers simplify and automate many of the tasks associated with maintaining database management systems. As a result, organizations can slash development time when building next-generation applications, increase efficiencies and focus more on aligning their technology to support strategic business initiatives.

With today’s announcement, IBM is delivering the open beta of the next version of its DB2 Universal Database, code-named Stinger. The new software delivers 200 new features that ease database administration, broaden support for popular application development environments and boost system performance.

Highlights of today’s news include the following features:

*Breakthrough autonomic computing features for automatically deploying, configuring, maintaining and optimizing DB2 on the fly. This will make it possible for database administrators (DBAs) to complete complex jobs 6.5 times faster than if done manually.

*Support for three-dimensional geospatial data that is “location” and “time-and-space” aware that enables customers in industries such as government, defense, and transportation to build next-generation spatial
applications.   Restaurant chains or retailers, which sometimes use spatial
data to identify new business opportunities, can also benefit from the new technology.

*Extension of IBM’s Linux clustering leadership with new features that automatically partition and optimize large databases on many servers in just a few minutes instead of hours.

Ease of Use
Building on IBM’s momentum and experience in helping customers reduce the complexity of maintaining database systems, IBM is delivering breakthrough autonomic computing features designed to simplify, automate or even eliminate many tasks traditionally associated with maintaining enterprise-class database systems.

Benefits of the autonomic features in Stinger animate a trend identified by META Group in two recent reports, which state that autonomic databases can reduce the labor-intensive, mundane tasks traditionally performed by DBAs, such as problem solving, monitoring and tuning, by 80 percent. Therefore, self-managing databases can and should enable DBAs to focus on more strategic activities, such as data analysis, Web Services, integration, information lifecycle management and aligning technology to support business goals.

With today’s announcement, involvement by a database administrator is no longer required to periodically refresh DB2’s understanding of the data it is managing. DB2 now learns about changes in the data organization and adjusts its optimization strategies accordingly. Competing databases do not offer this level of sophistication and automation; they force DBAs to constantly tell the database how to optimize queries.

To that end, IBM is introducing DB2 Design Advisor that automatically maintains, configures, deploys and optimizes the database—making it possible to complete jobs 6.5 times faster than if done manually. Design Advisor also tunes the database on demand as the workload fluctuates, automating any changes to the database structure, as well as backups and restores. The DB2 Design Advisor also suggests to DBAs how complex queries can be accelerated, providing the shortest path to the requested information. It does this by learning from the performance of previous information searches, and by collecting, pre-computing and keeping commonly used information at the ready.

Stinger is also the first deployment of new query optimization technology from IBM’s LEO (learning optimizer) research and development project. LEO is the next generation of IBM’s query optimizer technology, in which the database automates, simplifies and accelerates queries without human intervention. With LEO, DB2 will now automatically and continually update query statistics about how the database is being used, where it keeps information and how it is performing. As a result, DB2 now automatically creates and executes better plans for accessing data without prompting the DBA to take action.

Additionally, IBM is introducing Autonomic Object Maintenance. This new feature automatically performs administration and maintenance functions, such as table adjustments or data back-ups. For example, a DBA specifies what time the database should do its maintenance, the database then considers its workload with the DBA’s time suggestion, and automatically performs its maintenance tasks.

These autonomic features are unique to DB2, and are also offered in the Express edition of Stinger, which IBM is also introducing for the midmarket. These features are ideal for businesses of all sizes, but particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. These companies often have small IT staffs and limited technical understanding, and normally spend 65 percent of their time just administering and maintaining the database, according to IBM estimates.

Accelerating Application Development
In support of creating next-generation geospatial applications, Stinger customers will have access to the new DB2 Geodetic Extender. It treats the Earth like a globe, not a flat map, and understands the International Date Line and global time zones. As a result, companies can more easily build powerful and accurate geospatial applications for land management, asset management or business development applications that rely on geographical, physical and time-based data requirements.

DB2 provides the broadest platform support in the industry. By tapping existing in-house skills, developers can lower costs and bring DB2-based solutions to market faster. Stinger will continue that support by delivering new tools that take advantage of the latest application development features of Java / Eclipse and Microsoft .NET (available to DB2 users even before Microsoft SQL Server customers). For example, Stinger includes SQL enhancements such as the ability to write stored procedures using .NET languages such as Visual Basic .NET and C#. This capability enables developers to write their applications in the same programming language from start to finish.

Also of interest to developers is support by Stinger for larger SQL statement sizes, up from 64 kilobytes to 2 megabytes, commonly demanded by third-party applications today. This will make it faster and easier for Partners’ complex applications to pose queries to the database.

Finally, Stinger will provide enhanced support for Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), where Web Services will be even more secure, flexible and integrated into the database.

Increased Productivity
In an on-demand business environment, access to information at all times, from anywhere, is crucial. The flow of information needs to be automatic and reliable.

To that end, Stinger is delivering DB2 Client Reroute, a mechanism for keeping users up and running if there is scheduled maintenance performed on the database, or if a database server physically fails. Client Reroute invisibly switches users over to a mirrored database without any disruption. DB2 will also take advantage of IBM Tivoli Intelligent ThinkDynamic Orchestrator, which can automatically allocate more processor space and power on demand, based on spikes in database usage.

Particularly of benefit to mobile employees, Stinger will include DB2 Everyplace, which extends access to enterprise data to “occasionally-connected” users on mobile, wireless and handheld devices. This provides the ability for customers to conduct real business transactions anytime and anywhere in the world. DB2 Everyplace gives mobile workers the ability to query, retrieve and modify information from DB2 and databases from Oracle and Microsoft. Everyplace includes autonomic features such as optimization of unused database space, guaranteed data delivery and an automatic-resume feature if disconnected from a network.

Low-Cost, High-Scaling Linux Clusters
IBM is extending its Linux leadership by supporting the new Version 2.6 of the Linux kernel, which will help IBM’s database clusters scale higher and perform faster than before. Support for the new kernel better exploits the speed of 64-bit-ready databases, such as DB2, and enables Linux databases to take better advantage of servers that use multiple processors.

These multiprocessor servers can be clustered with one another to create powerful Linux clusters, as with DB2 ICE. DB2 is the most scalable database on Linux today, offering clusters ranging from two to 1,000 servers and which can be deployed at a rate of four nodes per hour (clusters from other database vendors are highly proprietary, and can only scale out to between eight and 16 nodes). Assisting with this rapid deployment is the new DB2 Design Advisor, which automatically partitions and optimizes large databases on many servers in just a few minutes. No other vendor has this capability built into the database. Previously, administrators might choose to spend hours fine-tuning the performance.

Stinger will also support the 64-bit performance of IBM’s POWER processors, which lie at the heart of eServer BladeCenter and eServer pSeries and iSeries. DB2 has long supported blade servers—rack-mounted servers expressly designed for clustering. DB2 now supports all four of IBM’s server platforms running Linux, as well as other servers built on Intel and AMD 64-bit processors.

Stinger will become generally available later this year. For more information on Stinger, please visit