Open beta for IBM's Viper database coming soon

With feature set close to completion, IBM still on track to release final version mid-year, executive says

Businesses will be able to take the next version of IBM Corp.'s DB2 database, known as Viper, for a test run in the coming weeks, when IBM plans to release the first public beta of the software, an IBM official said Friday.

The feature set for Viper has been "pretty much" frozen and IBM is on track to release the final product in the middle of this year, said Boris Bialek, senior manager for DB2 for Linux, in an interview at the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany.

The company kicked off a closed beta program for a handful of customers in November and extended that to a few hundred customers in January. By late March or the start of April, anyone will able to download the database from IBM's Web site for a free trial, Bialek said.

"We're very happy with the response [from the early testers]. The software is extremely stable," Bialek said, demonstrating Viper at IBM's Cebit booth.

The main advances in the upgrade are the ability to store XML (Extensible Markup Language) data natively, so it doesn't have to be reformatted, and the ability to effectively manage both structured and unstructured data, IBM has said.

It will also be the first version of DB2 to support three different partitioning methods: range partitioning, multidimensional clustering and hashing. That should help it compete better with Oracle Corp., which already offers several partitioning methods.

Less talked about but also useful is a compression technology that can reduce the cost of disk storage space, according to Bialek. The database identifies terms that may be repeated thousands of times in a column, such as a town name, and shortens them to a binary format. The technology was tested successfully for the first time recently with a customer, Bialek said.

Also new is label-based access control, which will allow administrators to define roles so that a company's partners, for example, can access only their own data. "It lets you share data in a highly secure environment," he said.

The beta will be available initially for Linux, Windows and IBM's AIX operating system, with other platforms to follow soon after. It will be available for download at

IBM is still deciding on a name for the finished product, Bialek said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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