Inside IBM DB2 Viper
A technological marvel, IBM's new XML-powered server aims to change the face of database storage
For my next test, I put my database on a server that had only 1GB of RAM, to see how a smaller business might take advantage of the compression. I found that the compressed table doesn’t perform nearly as well in this scenario as it did on my server with 4GB of RAM. Because DB2 keeps the compression dictionaries in memory, my guess is that the lower memory of the server is causing the compression dictionaries to be paged to disk when the server is busy.
Whatever the actual cause for the slowdown, if you’re going to use row-level compression, make sure you thoroughly benchmark it before you put it in your production environment. Even if you have a lot of RAM you might be surprised by poor performance due to any number of conditions, especially if you don’t have a dedicated database server. All the same, if I had to pick one feature that puts DB2 ahead of any of the other databases, this would definitely be the one, because it’s going to be far more useful to the largest portion of the client base. I would imagine that Oracle and Microsoft are both scrambling to be the next to bring this to market.
Time to jump ship?
The new DB2 is a technically impressive release. It’s loaded with features that are sure to please DB2 admins and developers alike. Whether those features will be compelling enough to convince a die-hard Oracle DBA to switch platforms, however, is unclear.
In the XML department, the pureXML engine hits a home run, but its significance in the business landscape remains to be seen. The scalability features, including larger temporary work areas and statistical views, make DB2 more attractive to the high-end market, but won’t necessarily appeal to smaller customers.
Viper’s groundbreaking row-level compression is where most customers will see the greatest returns. But although this feature will definitely reduce TCO for current DB2 shops, it simply isn’t enough to justify porting to a new platform. Likewise for the myriad other features, ranging from XML query enhancements to disaster recovery improvements -- they’re compelling but not revolutionary.
All in all, this is an excellent release for current DB2 customers, but in the highly competitive relational database market it takes a lot to win new converts. DB2’s new features certainly show off IBM’s engineering know-how, and they may be laying the groundwork for something yet to come, but as of now, the worth of many of these capabilities hasn’t hit the industry yet. Maybe over the next couple releases, as IBM and its customers start to build on these technologies and do things nobody else can do, the true payoff of the DB2 vision will emerge.
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In this article, we originally misreported IBM's XML performance claims. According to IBM, DB2 9 adopters report performance increases of approximately 5 to 7 times more than what they experienced with Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle Database. The errors have been corrected.
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