IBM set to unveil DB2 Viper after five years in the making

Native XML support lays foundation for hybrid apps

After almost two years of testing, IBM says it is finally pulling the covers off DB2 Version 9, the next iteration of its flagship database server, on July 28.

Formerly known by the code name “Viper,” the new version is the result of a five-year effort to re-engineer DB2 to support XML and relational data natively.

In contrast to earlier products, DB2 9 allows XML documents to remain XML, rather than breaking them up and storing them in relational tables in ways that might compromise their integrity. Any data stored in the server -- whether relational or XML -- can be retrieved using either SQL or XQuery.

“Most of the vendors in the industry, including us since late 1999, have been able to support XML in a relational context,” said Jeff Jones, IBM’s director of strategy for data servers. “But that’s really forcing limitations on XML.”

According to Bloor Research analyst Philip Howard, the new XML capabilities allow for hybrid relational/XML applications that were infeasible in the past.

IBM also added new data compression and security features and optimized the database for SAP application environments, continuing a process that began with Version 8.2.2.

“SAP performance is especially significant, as this represents an area where Oracle is strong, but the application vendor would just as soon back IBM,” said Wayne Kernochan, president of Infostructure Associates, who noted Oracle’s strong competition with SAP in enterprise applications.