IBM's DB2 Universal Database is rolling through its fourth month of beta testing, and the early verdict is in: Beta testers say this object-relational rendition of the IBM database is working as promised.
Beta users highlighted DB2 Universal Database's dynamic bit-mapped indexing, strong administration functionality and overall stable performance. This is particularly good news for IBM, which is in a tight three-way race with Oracle Corp. and Informix Software Inc. in the market for next-generation object-relational databases.
IBM also is actively trying to lure third-party developers into building "extenders," the modules that allow DB2 to support a variety of complex data types. The Armonk, N.Y., giant is in discussions with more than 30 developers interested in building extenders. Presently, however, IBM plans to ship the database with its current extenders.
Meanwhile, beta users are lauding IBM's less flashy but crucial decision to stuff more management capabilities within DB2, a move that reduces users' reliance on individual IBM administration tools such as DataHub. For this, DB2 Universal Database has a new management console, called the Control Center.
"They were dying without the administration tool, which is absolutely necessary. By adding that, they've made the product much easier to use for [database administrators], and that's important to us," said Robert Supinski, systems and database integrator at Cigna Reinsurance Co., in Windsor, Conn. Cigna replicates data between a variety of DB2 databases.
With the Control Center, Supinski can do a host of administrative tasks-such as managing, modifying and creating all database objects, coordinating backup and recovery and configuring security-from within the DB2 environment, aided by user-friendly wizards.
Replication capabilities also have been built into the database with technology from IBM's Data Propagator product.
DataHub, an independent tool for managing DB2, is going the way of the rotary telephone, IBM officials said. DataHub functions left out of DB2 Universal Database, however, will be integrated with Tivoli Systems Inc.'s Tivoli Management Environment 10 product, officials said.
"Because they've brought administration products under the DB2 header, installation, configuration and administration are much easier. The functionality is there when you need it in a single product," said Shawn Bay, president and CEO of Vision Associates Inc., in White Plains, N.Y.
Chase Manhattan Bank needed an object relational database to store multimedia content in the company's various Web sites. DB2 caught the bank's attention because it has been shipping as the Common Server for more than a year with extenders and because it runs on Windows NT, said IS Vice President John Baraldi, who recently began beta testing DB2 Universal Server.
The Informix Universal Server does not run on NT yet, while Oracle Corp.'s Oracle8 hasn't begun shipping, he said. "We'd like to take a look at all the products in this space. But we like DB2's extensibility," Baraldi said.