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Canonical, IBM plunk DB2 databases on Ubuntu

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Commercial Linux distributor Canonical has won the buzzword bingo for the week by putting Ubuntu, cloud, and appliance in the same sentence in announcing a partnership with IBM. It's meant to bring the latter company's DB2 databases to the latest Ubuntu 10.04 Server Edition Linux.

The deal has two parts. First, Canonical has taken IBM's DB2 Express-C database, which is a lightweight relational database with PureXML integrated XML features like the real DB2 databases, and hardened it for Ubuntu 10.04 Server Edition and wrapped it all up in a loving Amazon Machine Image (AMI) format so it can be deployed on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) utility.

According to Neil Levine, vice president of commercial services at Canonical, the Linux distributor thinks that getting a basic database certified for Ubuntu on EC2 is a key to getting IT shops to eventually deploy Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud, a clone of Amazon EC2 based on Ubuntu and the open source Eucalyptus cloud framework that sports KVM hypervisors and supports Amazon's APIs for EC2.

The DB2 Express-C image can be deployed on the Amazon public could or on a private cloud based on UEC, despite the fact that Amazon runs its cloud on a home-tweaked Xen hypervisor.

"The developers are the ones really starting out on Amazon today, and they are figuring out what works and what does not," says Levine. The DB2 Express-C appliance running on Ubuntu helps them get an image up and running on EC2 in a couple of clicks, and for the low, low price of zero that developers love. (DB2 Express-C is not open source, but it is freely distributed by IBM. Ubuntu 10.04 Server Edition is freely distributed.)

Once developers have a handle on how to make Ubuntu and DB2 support applications in the cloud, they will want to deploy their applications on a private cloud, and they will, IBM is gambling, want to do so with the real DB2 database that is meant to scale across many cores and processors and, with clustering extensions, multiple systems. Not with the toy DB2 Express-C database.

And so, IBM has certified the real DB2 V9.7 databases to run atop Ubuntu 10.04 Server Edition. As you can see from the Linux validation table, the prior so-called Long Term Server (LTS) Ubuntu Server release, 8.04, technically supported IBM's DB2 databases.

But according to Levine, this was done some time after 8.04 LTS was put into the field and IBM didn't really push it. With Ubuntu 10.04 Server Edition being picked up on both the Amazon cloud and in an increasing number of data centers running production workloads, IBM's support of DB2 on Ubuntu is much more serious this time around.

IBM's DB2 databases are already supported on Red Hat's Enterprise Linux 5, Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and 11, and Ubuntu 10.04 Server Edition is a preferred release alongside of RHEL 5 and SLES 11 on x86 and x64 machines. IBM also supports DB2 on Asianux Server 3 on x86, x64, and Power iron and Turbolinux 11 on x86 and x64 machines in the Asian markets. RHEL and SLES are also supported platforms for running IBM's DB2 databases on IBM's Power and mainframe systems.

IBM's DB2 certifications for Ubuntu naturally bring up the topic of Oracle databases. In March, when Jane Silber, Canonical's new chief executive officer, talked to El Reg about her plans for the business, Silber said that the two companies have a "complicated but positive relationship," and even though Oracle's own developers use Ubuntu internally and Oracle's databases will run on Ubuntu Server Edition, the Oracle databases have not certified on Canonical's Linux.

That situation has not changed, but Canonical is working towards that goal. "There are ongoing conversations and we are happy with the progress we are making," explains Levine.

No word on when Oracle might certify on Ubuntu, but IBM doing so might help the cause a bit. ®

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