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IBM database strategy chief on DB2: Devs are people too

Big Blue looks beyond DBAs for input on features

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Risky business

There is a risk associated in following development trends more closely. Of all the disciplines in IT, software development is arguably the most subject to changing trends and religious disagreements: while there are languages and frameworks that have survived decades newcomers stir up the memes and come pre-loaded with their own pros and cons.

For example, there are 22 Javascript frameworks and 43 frameworks for PHP. C is the world’s most popular programming language according to the Toibe Index, and ObjectiveC just overtook C++. But it's the newer Ruby – with less than 2 per cent usage – that has generated excitement in recent years.

Big Data is even more of a nose bleed. The industry pendulum has swung from all-in on NoSQL and the death of relational back to the co-existence of NoSQL and relational. The NoSQL databases and frameworks have also had to grow up on features.

DB2 now supports Hadoop, but some reckon there are better alternatives.

Hadoop, reckons Spang, suited the “new information challenge” for processing data in a way that didn’t fit into the standard relational data model.

So how does IBM navigate DB2 through such changes when it is a stable and secure piece of software? How can IBM ensure DB2, which hits its 30th birthday next year, stays fresh without losing its stability – and without heading off down a historical dead end by backing a new technology that falls out of favour?

“We’ve got a history and a proven track record of being able to add new capabilities without disrupting what’s [already] there,” Spang said.

When it comes which new technologies to pick, Spang said Big Blue listens to the “conversation” in the industry. On this basis, IBM then decides whether it’s worth supporting such a technology, building its own or buying it up.

The IBM exec believes DB2 can serve as a stable platform for the newer technologies. “We’ve seen this over and over again,” said Spang.

“New technologies come out, new ways to do things, and the advanced guard are looking for rapid deployment and flexibility and an easy of trying things out. When it comes to running [your] own business, then you start worrying about high availability, security, reliability... My answer is, if we already have those things and it’s easier and quicker to add a new technology on top that’s a more scalable and robust system – we will do that.

"Our clients who are saying: ‘Big data, what’s the buzz? Our guys are tinkering with stuff but, IBM, how is it going to fit into my IT environment of security and reliability?' That’s where IBM’s expertise comes into play.” ®

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