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IBM yesterday (May 20th) published the packaging and pricing of DB2 Information Integrator, together with some case studies of customers that have been using the beta version. While DB2 Information Integrator can now be ordered, general availability begins on June 13.

IBM has also revealed its partnership programme. This includes both leading ETL (extract, transform and load) and Business Intelligence vendors, all of which have completed initial development projects in conjunction with DB2 Information Integrator.

For those of you that missed the initial announcement about DB2 Information Integrator in February, here's a recap.

Information Integrator (which is in version 8.1 to align it with the latest release of DB2) is based primarily upon the facilities of DB2, SQL and DataJoiner. The basic concept is predicated upon a federated database approach in which multiple heterogeneous databases appear to the user as if they were a single database.

However, Information Integrator is not limited to accessing relational data sources - it can also access XML, flat files, Microsoft Excel, ODBC, Web and other content stores, although updates and replication are limited to relational sources in the first release. Thus the full capabilities of DataJoiner have not been implemented in this release, although beta testing has shown improved performance compared to that product.

There are some key features of Information Integrator that should be mentioned. In particular, you can query data wherever it resides, as if it was at a single location, with a single view across all the relevant data sources.

The product supports queries by caching query tables across federated sources, while the optimiser will validate the SQL used against the source database and will automatically compensate if the relevant syntax is not supported on the remote database. Other features of the federation capabilities of the product include the ability to publish the results of a query to a message queue and to compose, transform and validate XML documents.

In terms of updates, replication and Information Integrator acts as a replication server, initially supporting Oracle, Informix, Microsoft, Sybase and Teradata databases, as well as DB2. Functions are flexible with support for both one to many and many-to-one topologies, table-based or transaction-based data movement (which may be dependent on whether you have batch or online requirements), and latency which may be scheduled, interval-based or continuous.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the beta trial has been the reports of increased developer productivity. This is partly because there is less hand coding required and, more particularly, because SQL queries do not have to be decomposed to act across the various databases involved. This is a complex task and requires experienced SQL programmers. Thus a subsidiary effect of the automation introduced by DB2 Information Integrator is that it reduces the skill requirement needed.

The big question is whether the market will warm to the concept of the federated database, which is enabled through DB2 Information Integrator.

Microsoft notionally embraces the concept but it has done little to implement it, while Oracle's approach runs directly counter to federalism, with the company espousing consolidation (centralisation) instead. Thus IBM has to market federation on its own. That shouldn't stop it: the idea nicely aligns with its On-Demand Computing concept and it will make sense to a lot of users.

What will be most interesting is how Larry will explain it when Oracle has to embrace it too. © IT-Analysis.com

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