IBM to Release ‘Express’ Database for SMBs

On the heels of several software announcements centered on data management, IBM is set to release in June DB2 Express,
a smaller version of its flagship database targeted to the small- and medium-sized business market.

Sources close to the company said the product will feature automation and silent install at a price point geared to cost-conscious customers. Express is aimed at small companies (no more than 1,000 employees) running their databases on one or two processors. It is preconfigured by business partners for retail, manufacturing and banking markets.

“Basically, Express will be attractive to those that don’t need all the features in DB2 Universal Database Version 8.1 — such as high-volume transactions, full data warehousing capabilities and massive scalability,” a source familiar with the product said.

The news comes at a time when some analysts say open-source databases, such as MySQL, are gaining traction in the low end of the market, which is traditionally dominated by Microsoft SQL. Oracle targets its 9i Standard Edition database for the same segment.

In keeping with IBM’s autonomic computing custom, a key facet of its on-demand e-business initiative, DB2 Express provides self-tuning and self-configuring characteristics to help database administrators cut back on management chores. DB2 Express will also have better support for Web Services and scale easier to other members of the DB2 family that are tailored to larger enterprises.

IBM DB2 Express will be sold at an entry price of under $1,000, the source said. The offering, which will run on Linux and Windows, has been in beta testing with specific customers since it was announced in February, along with Express packages for IBM’s Lotus and Tivoli brands.

The new Express offerings come on the heels of the company’s WebSphere Express debut last November, and the success of that is responsible for the new products, according to IBM.

With DB2 Express, IBM is addressing a lower end of a market where open-source databases — MySQL, PostGreSQL, Firebird and SAP-DB — are sliding in to tempt corporate and government customers to what they claim are easier-to-use and more cost-effective options.

While open-source databases don’t boast the same breadth or depth of features and scalability found in their proprietary counterparts, analysts such as Meta Groups’ Charlie Garry say that’s just fine.

“The beauty of open-source databases is that it ends that cycle we often see among commercial vendors where they continue to add feature functions to trump that other guy,” Garry said. “Open-source DBs are forcing users to think ‘what is important to me?’, and they think about right-sizing.”

Garry said commercial databases from Oracle and IBM contain some features that customers won’t even use — or need. He said he expects open source players to lure new government customers who don’t require vast levels of functionality and are looking for an alternative to larger, more costly commercial systems like IBM DB2 or Oracle 9i.

Still, open source DBs are largely applied to smaller projects. But the future is fair game for change, analysts noted. Whatever the sector portends and however it shakes out over the next year, the database market could use some good fortune. Tech research firm Gartner reported that database vendors experienced the sting of stingy spending last year as revenues for new database licensing dipped by seven percent to $6.6 billion from $7.1 billion in 2001.

For the first time, IBM led the vendor pack with its DB2 database, which accounted for 36.2 percent of new license revenue for the RDBMS market in 2002 on the strength of its zSeries mainframe sales for DB2. Oracle followed with 33.8 percent of the market and Microsoft came in third with an 18 percent share.

Adapted from

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