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Get Your Business Where it Needs to Go
 By Craig S. Mullins

Data is the lifeblood of modern business. From small, local companies to complex multinational corporations, the wheels of industry turn on data. Or, more precisely, on information — data that’s been stored, analyzed, manipulated, and interpreted.

Whether the information is used to target customers, define manufacturing secrets, or create more efficient processes, information brings competitive advantage.

Database management systems (DBMSs)—usually relational database management systems (RDBMSs) — facilitate the processing of data into information. The importance of DBMSs to business is reflected in the size of the DBMS market, which some analysts predict will top $10 billion in 2003.

But the DBMS is only part of the story. IBM offers a set of information infrastructure options that starts with a world-class DBMS and extends to handle virtually any kind of information — even the estimated 80 percent that doesn’t reside in databases — from diverse sources.  


Recent analyst reports show IBM leading all other DBMS software providers in new license revenue. Factors behind IBM’s success in this market include.

Technical innovation. RDBMSs owe their existence to Dr. Edgar F. Codd, an IBM researcher who published a groundbreaking series of papers in the 1970s on which the architecture for the first relational prototype and modern RDBMSs (including IBM’s DB2) were based. A few years later, IBM researchers Don Chamberlin and Ray Boyce wrote a paper that led to the invention of the now ubiquitous SQL language.

Today, IBM leads the way with innovative information management technologies including:

  • Cost-based optimization for stellar query performance
  • Autonomic computing for self-healing and self-managing systems
  • Grid computing and database federation, part of IBM’s information integration and information and “e-business on demand” efforts.


Platform breadth. IBM’s DB2 Universal Database (UDB) boasts customers of all sizes on all computing platforms. DB2 for the mainframe z/OS platform serves the largest customers in the world. Medium-to-very large companies choose anything from DB2 on an IBM iSeries server to DB2 for Linux, Unix, or Windows platforms. IBM offers DB2 Express for small Windows and Linux servers to support small and medium businesses. For the very smallest “footprint” requirements, IBM offers DB2 Everyplace, which runs on PDAs such as Palm and PocketPCs.

IBM develops and markets its own line of operating systems, but it’s committed to Windows, Unix, and Linux. DB2 is certified on three Windows 2000 server packages and on Windows Server 2003. DB2 also runs on the most popular Unix operating systems, including IBM AIX, HP-UX, and Sun Solaris.

Functional depth. DB2’s depth comes from in its ability to support super fast transaction processing and in-depth analytical querying.

Advanced cost-based optimization techniques and query rewrite capabilities let DB2 process transactions as fast as business needs dictate. DB2 is consistently at or near the top of the industry standard Transaction Processing Performance Council’s TPC-C benchmarks for transaction processing performance. Each new release of DB2 brings features that advance transaction performance.

Built-in analytic abilities such as efficient star joins, materialized query tables, and CUBE and ROLLUP functions let DB2 excel as a data warehouse solution. DB2 OLAP Server provides a hybrid solution that combines the speed of multidimensional storage with the scalability of relational databases for companies who need more in-depth analytic capabilities. The DB2 UDB Data Warehouse Editions include features designed specifically for business intelligence, including:

  •  DB2 Cube Views (available with the Data Warehouse Enterprise Edition), which provides OLAP query acceleration and improved sharing of OLAP metadata among business intelligence applications and tools. DB2 Cube Views augment and exploit native DB2 features that enable businesses and third-party vendors to deploy OLAP solutions faster and manage them more easily.

  •  DB2 Data Warehouse Center, included in DB2, which provides an interface for defining, building and maintaining DB2-based data warehouses; a catalog for managing metadata; and features for creating and running complex queries.

  •  A Query Management Facility (QMF), which supports building, running, and managing ad hoc queries and transforms business data into visual information.

  •  DB2 Intelligent Miner Modeling, Visualization, and Scoring, optional DB2 features for data mining. DB2 Intelligent Miner provides algorithms for preparing data, performing mining operations, and visualizing results. Scoring services enable data mining to be performed in real time on small segments of data using SQL.

Application development. Writing applications to access DB2 data is flexible and easy. DB2 supports everything from COBOL or Assembler on the mainframe, to C# or VB.NET on Windows, to Java on Linux.

DB2 application development plug-ins are available for both the IBM WebSphere Studio and Microsoft Visual Studio development environments. An IBM/Borland partnership means DB2 development is a snap with Borland’s Kylix, Delphi, C++Builder, and C#Builder. For Java developers, DB2 supports both Java database connectivity and SQLJ. And IBM is a member of the team that is creating JOLAP, a Java-based standard for data analysis. IBM also supports both the Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition and Microsoft .Net development environments.

The DB2 Development Center simplifies the creation of database server-side code, such as stored procedures and user-defined functions (UDFs). IBM offers a low-cost package that lets a single application developer design, build, and prototype applications for deployment on any of the DB2 client or server platforms. Licensing DB2 UDB Universal Developer's Edition for coding and testing needs saves money, because it’s less expensive than many production editions. 

Extensibility. Equipped with extenders that support advanced multimedia and complex data, DB2 supports all data storage needs. IBM offers DB2 extenders for image, audio, video, text, XML, and spatial data. Each extender provides a new distinct data type and a set of UDFs for use with objects of its distinct type. The Net Search Extender offers advanced Internet search capabilities and complements the Text Extender to provide an efficient, full-text retrieval engine for DB2 Web applications. The extenders automatically capture and maintain attribute information about the objects being stored.


Federation and Information Integration

No matter how entrenched DB2 may be in your organization, you’ll likely have and use other DBMS products. Homogeneous IT organizations are extremely rare. IBM addresses the need to access data from multiple disparate data sources through federation.

Federation lets businesses abstract a common data model across data and content sources and to access and manipulate them as though they were a single source. It can be used to augment an existing data warehouse, by reaching out in real-time for external data that can supplement a query.

IBM’s DB2 Information Integrator offers the ability to integrate data from multiple sources of different kinds of information. The product enables access to data from hierarchical DBMSs (such as IMS), other relational products (such as Microsoft SQL Server), and other less-structured sources. Developers access this data via a SQL interface, just as they would if it were stored in DB2. When returned to the application, the data appears as if it came from DB2. 

Content and Records Management

As businesses, government agencies, and other organizations continue to store more data of multiple types, applications will need to manage and unite all kinds of information—structured data plus emails, phone recordings, faxes, video, and other information sources — to solve business problems. RDBMSs traditionally focus on managing structured data, data that can be stored in rows and columns in a table. DB2 extenders expand the kinds of information its possible to store to include; however, sometimes more in-depth manipulation and management of this unstructured, complex data is needed.

DB2 Content Manager provides support for two kinds of content management: media asset management and enterprise content management (ECM). Media asset management is the storage and management of collections of large multimedia objects, such as large collections of X-rays for a hospital, video and film content for movie studios, and scans of art collections for museums. ECM involves storing and managing large collections of smaller multimedia objects—often scanned check images for banks or scanned invoices, and bills for many kinds of businesses.

DB2 Information Integrator for Content provides a programming layer above DB2 Content Manager that facilitates easy access to many kinds of information from a single interface.

The Bottom Line

Analysts have noted that IBM’s DB2 software offers options for virtually all information needs. In a recent DBMS evaluation report, Bloor Research cites IBM as appearing to be “the most firmly committed to offering an all-embracing product set.”

IBM offers the leading DBMS on the market today. Choosing an information infrastructure based on DB2 provides a solid foundation for the applications a company has today and the flexibility to let a business grow in whatever direction it might take


From DB2 Magazine, 4th Quarter, 2003.
© 2003 Craig S. Mullins. All rights reserved.