IBM makes the first move

IBM fires the first salvo in a battle brewing over control of corporate database servers with the introduction its new Universal database designed with the Web in mind.

Mike Ricciuti Staff writer, CNET News
Mike Ricciuti joined CNET in 1996. He is now CNET News' Boston-based executive editor and east coast bureau chief, serving as department editor for business technology and software covered by CNET News, Reviews, and Download.com. E-mail Mike.
Mike Ricciuti
2 min read
IBM (IBM) today made the first strike in a battle brewing over control of corporate database servers with the introduction its new database designed with the Web in mind.

IBM's DB2 Universal Database is a new version of the company's existing DB2 database, retrofitted with built-in Java, replication, multimedia, and electronic commerce support.

The revamped database server is intended to stand toe-to-toe with similar multimedia, Web-enabled databases from Informix Software and Oracle. Informix will debut its Universal Server database tomorrow in New York at the DB/Expo '96 trade show.

IBM sees its huge installed base of mainframe DB2 users as its primary advantage over its competitors. The company estimates that more than two-thirds of all Unix- and Windows NT-based databases are connected back to IBM mainframes running the company's mainframe databases software. "That's IBM's home turf," said Janet Perna, general manager of data management at IBM's Software Solutions division.

To capture business in the remaining third--versus staunch competition from Informix, Oracle and Microsoft--Perna said IBM will turn to channel partners to spread the word. "The other third that isn't connected to a mainframe?that's where systems integrators and value-added resellers play a key role for us," she said.

DB2 Universal Database, now in beta testing and slated to ship by mid-1997, will also work with IBM's Net.Data software for accessing data from DB2 and other relational and nonrelational databases through Web browsers. The combination will allow users to query and update DB2 over the Web.

The database also supports the Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) application programming interface, so Java applications can utilize DB2 data. DB2 stored procedures can now also be written in Java.

DB2 Universal Database supports image, video, audio, and text data types, in addition to standard tabular data. IBM will add support for fingerprint data, time series, and spatial data next year. The database runs on Windows NT, Unix, and OS/2 operating systems.

Pricing for Universal Database has not been announced. Pricing for the current version of DB2 is $999 per server, and $149 per client.