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IBM to release near-ready DB2 Viper database

Looking to unseat Oracle, Big Blue to provide a release candidate of DB2 Viper, generally available by midyear.

IBM on Thursday is expected to release a near-ready version of its latest database server, code-named Viper, a product designed to snatch market share from rival Oracle and fend off open-source challengers.

The company plans to offer the DB2 Viper "test drive" as a free download to customers on Thursday. Also, at an event in Jaipur, India, of its information management business, is expected to provide more details on the database's features.

Bob Picciano, vice president of data servers at IBM, said the latest release is the equivalent of a "release candidate," the industry term for a product that's close to being fully developed and tested. The generally available product is scheduled for completion in the early summer, he said.

The most significant feature to be added in the is the ability to store and index XML documents in a "native" format, according to IBM.

The company has added a separate storage mechanism for XML to DB2. The mechanism keeps the document structure intact rather than reformatting it for a relational system. DB2 Viper's "hierarchical" storage format and XML-specific indexing will greatly improve performance for applications that use XML data, Picciano said.

"Viper is really aimed at taking (Oracle) out of the market," he said, noting that about 40 percent of the world's data is in an XML format. "This will allow us to take a big chunk out of the market standing."

On Thursday, IBM is expected to disclose enhanced security features that will give customers more control over access policies.

Goyal will also discuss compression technology that can reduce the amount of storage needed by 55 percent to 60 percent, Picciano said.

Picciano added that the company's recently released , a free version of DB2 limited to servers with 4 gigabytes of memory, is helping IBM to maintain customers using open-source databases.