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At its Information on Demand conference in Las Vegas last week, IBM announced a raft of new capabilities and initiatives with respect to IMS (version 10, available 10/26, whose main new features are around supporting SOA), DB2 and ancillary management and development capabilities. I shall be concentrating here on DB2 (version 9.5, which will be available from the end of this month) as well as some of the additional capabilities that IBM has announced.

DB2 has a number of new features, of which the most significant are the new integrated capabilities, improved performance (between two and fivetimes) for transactional XML, automated compression (you now simply set thresholds and then data is compressed automatically), expanded encryption capabilities and extended workload management functionality that allows you to set business policy based priorities that will allow you to support different levels of service directly from the workload manager. There are also two new balanced warehouse configurations.

The new integrated capabilities are twofold. The first is that unstructured analytics are now embedded within the database (in the same way that, for example, scoring has been embedded for some time) and the second is what IBM calls "integrated cubing services for OLAP". While doing what its name suggests with slice and dice, drill-down and so on against cubes of up to 1Tb, this feature (which is also embedded) only works with Alphablox at the present time but ODBO (OLE DB for OLAP), Excel and third party interfaces will be introduced next year.

In addition to the new versions of its database software, IBM also discussed two new tools along with IBM Optim, which is the product it acquired when the company bought Princeton Softech. The new tools are the IBM Mashup Starter Kit (available now) and IBM Data Studio (available from the end of the month).

The Mashup Starter Kit is available as a download and provides what its name suggests. Specifically, it includes QEDwiki and the IBM Mashup Hub, where the former is a browser-based environment for building and hosting Web 2.0 applications: it is aimed at both business users wishing to construct ad hoc applications and Web application developers who want to use it for rapid prototyping. The Mashup Hub, on the other hand is used to publish those applications so that they can be reused and to support connections between mashups and enterprise resources.

IBM Data Studio (a download with supported versions to follow) is an integrated data management environment that is also a developer tool in the sense that it has been designed to provide simpler access to data for Java programmers, using pureQuery data access. In particular, it allows you to publish data as a web service without any programming. Currently the product only supports DB2 and IDS (Informix Dynamic Server). But the plan is to support all platforms in the future through Eclipse plug-ins.

Finally, IBM talked about its Optim product (already available) that it gained from Princeton Softech. This allows you to define a referentially-intact business object (with its metadata) and then treat that as a single entity for the purposes of archiving and test data. This is what Princeton Softech was previously offering.

However, there are obvious potential uses for this technology in other areas of IBM's portfolio. While the company wasn't prepared to discuss its future plans for Optim, those of you who have read my recent article about Celona will know that one of the strengths of that product is precisely the fact that it can define similar business objects and use these as a part of its approach to data migration. An obvious development would therefore be to integrate Optim with IBM Information Server and, specifically, with DataStage. There are also potential uses in other areas, such as data modelling.

This is an impressive set of releases (and there were by no means the only ones, just the only ones from the database software group) and I have really not done them justice in such a short article. Hopefully, however, this has gone far enough to give you at least an inkling of what these capabilities can provide.

Copyright © 2007, IT-Analysis.com

Philip Howard is director of research - technology, at Bloor Research.

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