IBM's DB2 Universal Database is already a solid choice for database management. In this interim release, DB2 Universal Database, Enterprise Edition, Version 5.2, the database gains a slew of useful features that ease administration, improve application access, and enhance database connectivity.
I encountered only one snag while testing DB2 5.2. My early shipping copy did not have all of the components and I had to spend additional time downloading some pieces from the IBM Web site. IBM officials indicated that customers would receive DB2 5.2 with all components readily available on the distribution media.
This quibble aside, DB2 5.2 worked flawlessly and I found a lot to like. For example, DB2 is now well integrated with IBM's WebSphere application server. The integration is so smooth it reminded me of the links between Oracle8 and Oracle's application server.
Database administrators will appreciate a new Java applet version of DB2's Database Control Center. Known as the Web Control Center, the newly ported administration tool works well and offers management of DB2 from a Web browser.
Application developers will also find some useful additions to DB2 5.2 accessibility in Java Database Connectivity (JDBC), Java Embedded SQL (SQLJ), and Perl support. JDBC access to DB2 is supported on both the client and server, as is SQLJ's capability to run Java Embedded SQL applications.
Developers using DB2 on Unix platforms will also find support for the Database Independent Interface for Perl (Perl DBI). Though this API is not database specific, IBM has included a DB2 driver that enables DB2 access for Perl using Perl DBI.
I found a number of useful DB2 additions that boost performance and address scalability concerns. For example, page sizes have been expanded to 8KB while tables can now reach 128GB.
Two other additions sped up my test queries - table-level locking and limiting the fetch size. The former is a changeable setting of the default row-level locking, which helps to reduce the amount of lock management during queries. The latter let me specify the size of the results I needed from my test queries.
New data type
DB2 5.2 also contains a new data type called DataLink, which represents a link to an object stored outside the database. This is a different approach from Oracle's efforts to put everything into the database. Datalink provides accessibility to the external objects and lets administrators back up these objects along with the database.
Also notable in this DB2 version is the addition of support for two-phase commit using Microsoft's Transaction Server (MTS) as the coordinator. Both DB2 5.2 and the other DB2 products, such as DB2/400, can now process distributed transactions that are managed by MTS.
Those currently using earlier versions of DB2 Universal Database will find transitioning to this latest version fairly simple.
IBM has added many useful features in this latest release of DB2 Universal Database. Current DB2 customers will definitely want to upgrade.
The Bottom Line
DB2 Universal Database, Enterprise Edition, Version 5.2This update to IBM's database shows good improvements in the areas of Java, Web, and transaction support, as well as enhancing performance and scalability.
Pros: Java-based administration tool enables database management via a Web browser; JDBC and Java Embedded SQL simplifies application access; improved two-phase commit; integrates with WebSphere application server.
Cons: Some components require additional Web downloads.
Platforms: Solaris, AIX, SCO UnixWare, HP-UX, Windows 98, Windows NT.
Price: Available on application.
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