September 17, 2002 1:57 PM PDT

Winners, losers in IBM database revamp

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A new version of IBM's next-generation DB2 database looks likely to be a mixed blessing for customers: Midsize businesses could find a bargain, while big companies may wind up paying more.

DB2 version 8, due in November, is IBM's newest weapon in the competitive database market. The company is hoping to steal some thunder from rival Oracle in the $12.7 billion annual market for software that manages and retrieves data.

Excluding databases for mainframe computers, Big Blue has been gaining market share, but still ranks second behind Oracle, according to a recent study by market research firm IDC.

IBM previously offered two high-end versions of the database, one with clustering and one without. Now, the company will sell one product: the DB2 Enterprise Server Edition. The new version of DB2 will cost $25,000 per processor, or about $5,000 more per processor than the previous version, said Jeff Jones, directory of strategy for IBM's data management solutions.

Clustering will be an add-on feature, priced at an additional $7,500 per processor, Jones said. Clustering lets businesses harness multiple servers to run a very large database system, or to allow servers to share work or take over from each other if one fails.

In hopes of capturing more customers at midsize companies--a growing market for database makers--IBM will cut pricing for its midrange version of DB2 by about 45 percent. DB2 Workgroup Server Unlimited Edition will cost $7,500 per processor for any application connected to the Internet, said Jones.

A second offering for small and midsize companies, called the Workgroup Server Edition, is aimed for businesses with between 24 and 36 employees. The Workgroup Server Edition will cost $969 per server and $249 for each "named" or "concurrent" user, the same price as before, Jones said.

Named user licensing gives database access to 100 specific employees, for example, while a concurrent user license allows for access by any 100 employees simultaneously.

At the low end, IBM has merged its two DB2 offerings into one. The company previously offered a Personal Edition for laptop users and a Satellite Edition that included remote administration features. The newly combined low-end version of DB2, still called Personal Edition, is aimed at remote workers who need a database for their laptop computers, Jones said.

The low-end version, priced at $369 per user, will include remote administration features, allowing users to sync up and extract data from corporate databases while they are on the road.

Overall, IBM claims that the new database, now in testing by customers, is faster, more reliable, and easier to manage. Also new is better support for Web services, making it easier for companies to interact via the Internet. DB2 version 8 will also includes a new feature, called "configuration advisor" that can save database administrators time by automatically configuring a database for use.

IBM will ship DB2 version 8 on Nov. 21, Jones said.

 

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