Along with some fine-tuning around the edges, IBMs DB2 Universal Database 7.2 unfurls several areas of new or enhanced connectivity that make it easier to connect DB2 to other enterprise data sources.
In particular, DB2s newfound ability to send and receive messages with IBM MQSeries, the widely used message queuing server, will be interesting to customers in the financial and brokerage markets, where MQSeries is widely used.
This early-June release doesnt change major parts of the previous DB2 7.1, and current DB2 7.1 users can upgrade for free by applying DB2 7.1 FixPak 3.
eWeek Labs awarded the previous release of DB2 (Version 7.1) an Analysts Choice designation, and we still consider DB2 our top overall database pick for its very strong feature set, broad platform support and low cost. DB2 7.2 Workgroup Edition costs only $999 per server and $249 per user, or $14,250 for an unlimited user license—this price is comparable to Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server with a feature set that is very competitive with Oracle Corp.s powerful and much more expensive Oracle8i database.
Workgroup Edition is licensed to run only on servers with up to four CPUs on Windows and Linux operating systems. An Enterprise Edition has no CPU limits and costs $20,000 per CPU for unlimited users (we tested this version). DB2 Extended Enterprise Edition adds database-clustering features and costs $25,000 per CPU.
Data interoperability and warehousing features have been beefed up in this release through a number of new data connectors.
The most notable addition is MQSeries support. After going through a set of steps to configure our DB2 installation to connect with an MQSeries server in our lab, we were able to use a set of new DB2 functions to send messages to and receive messages from an MQSeries message queue.
We also could use a new wizard in DB2s Data Warehouse Center to create a virtual table mapped to an MQSeries queue that let us use a normal SQL select statement to read data from the queue. This is a clever idea and will let MQSeries shops use DB2s data warehousing and online analytical processing tools to store and manage a repository of MQSeries data.
One restriction in the current DB2-to-MQSeries tools is they are not transaction-aware: Though MQSeries supports transactional messaging, the DB2 interface doesnt support that feature yet.
Also on the data warehousing front, DB2 7.2 includes three new application-specific connectors for SAP AGs R/3, i2 Technologies Inc.s i2 and IBMs WebSphere e-commerce package for importing data from these applications.
DB2 is moving fast toward XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based Web services such as Simple Object Access Protocol support, though these components are in the Web preview stage.
DB2s built-in encryption (using the RC2 algorithm) will be welcome to those managing highly sensitive information. A group of three new functions made these encryption features simple to use. DB2 can also store password hints with encrypted text.
In tests, we discovered a problem with DB2s main administration console Control Center, where issuing Refresh commands caused the console to crash. After working with IBM on the problem, it seems this bug only affects multi-CPU servers. On single-CPU systems, the console generates an error but stays up. IBM is working on the issue.