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Celebrating 40 Years of Db2: Running the World’s Mission Critical Workloads

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On June 7, 1983, a product was born that would revolutionize how organizations would store, manage, process, and query their data: IBM Db2.

Over the past 40 years, Db2 has been on an exciting and transformational journey. In 1969, retired IBM Fellow Edgar F. Codd published his famous paper “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks.” His paper and research went on to inspire Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce to create Structured Query Language (SQL)

IBM Db2 was announced in 1983, and V1.1 launched on MVS in 1985. Don Haderle, a retired IBM Fellow and considered to be the “father of Db2,” viewed 1988 as a seminal point in its development as DB2 version 2 proved it was viable for online transactional processing (OLTP)—the lifeblood of business computing at the time. Thus, was born a single database and the relational model for transactions and business intelligence.

Success on the mainframe led to ports on OS/2, AIX, Linux, Unix, Windows, and other platforms running on both IBM and non-IBM hardware. Db2 (LUW) was born in 1993, and 2023 marks its 30th anniversary.

The impact of Db2 on IBM

Db2 helped position IBM as an overall solution provider of hardware, software, and services. Its early success, coupled with IBM WebSphere in the 1990s, put it in the spotlight as the database system for several Olympic games, including 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, and the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. Performance and stability were critical in preventing any failures or delays that could be visible to millions of viewers.

Built on decades of innovation in data security, scalability and availability, IBM Db2 keeps business applications and analytics protected, highly performant, and resilient, anywhere. Forrester’s 2022 Total Economic Impact Report for Data Management highlights the impact Db2 and the IBM data management portfolio is having for customers:

  • Return on investment (ROI) of 241% and payback <6 months.
  • Benefits Present Value (PV) of $3.43M and Net Present Value (NPV) of $2.42M
  • Three-year benefits include higher growth through better customer experience of $1.76M, automation-driven productivity gains of $1.20M, and data-driven operational improvements of $473K

What is IBM Db2 (LUW)?

IBM Db2 (LUW) is the cloud-native database built to power lowlatency transactions and real-time analytics at scale, providing customers with both self-managed and fully managed (SaaS) options on the cloud. It provides a single engine for DBAs, enterprise architects and developers to keep critical applications running. It also stores and queries anything and powers faster decision-making across organizations.

For the past three decades, Db2 has provided stability and dependability for customers’ data management solutions. Its robust architecture and proven performance have given businesses uninterrupted access to critical data while powering their enterprise-level applications.

Db2 v11.5 was a significant leap forward in data management, empowering organizations to unlock the full potential of their data. 

How Db2, AI and hybrid cloud work together

AI-infused intelligence in IBM Db2 v11.5 enhances data management through automated insights generation, self-tuning performance optimization and predictive analytics. It leverages machine learning algorithms to continuously learn and adapt to workload patterns, delivering superior performance and reducing administrative efforts. In addition, robust tooling and integration with popular development frameworks enable rapid application development and deployment. Developers can leverage features like REST APIs, JSON support and enhanced SQL compatibility to easily build cloud-native applications. Db2 v11.5 is a proven, versatile, and AI-ready solution. 

Db2 Universal Container (also known as Db2u) is a containerization technology based on microservices architecture. In this environment, each component is separated into services that run in one of more containers. This architecture improves fault isolation because applications can remain largely unaffected by any failure of a single microservice. Overall, it is easier to deploy. Provisioning, scaling, and redundancy control are managed automatically. Db2 can run on Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes environments, ROSA & EKS on AWS, and ARO & AKS on Azure deployments.

Customers can also choose to run IBM Db2 database and IBM Db2 Warehouse as a fully managed service. Db2 database SaaS is a fully managed service for a highperformance, transactional workload. Db2 Warehouse SaaS, on the other hand, is a fully managed elastic cloud data warehouse with our columnar technology. Both services offer independent compute and storage scaling, high availability, and automated DBA tasks. 

watsonx.data integration

At Think, IBM announced watsonx.data as a new open, hybrid and governed data store optimized for all data, analytics, and AI workloads. It is built on open data lakehouse architecture and brings together the commodity Cloud Object Store, open data/table formats and open-source query engines. Watsonx.data will be fully integrated with Db2 Warehouse—in particular, it will be able to access data in Db2 tables using a Db2 connector, while Db2 can also access watsonx.data data directly by cataloging its metastore and share data in open formats such as Parquet and Apache Iceberg table format. Watsonx.data uses cost-efficient compute and storage and fit-for-purpose query engines such as Presto and Spark, that automatically scale up and down. This now gives Db2 Warehouse customers the ability to augment existing workloads and reduce costs by pairing the right workload with the right engine based on price and performance needs. Additionally, Db2 transactional data can be combined with new data in watsonx.data to gain new insights and deploy AI at scale.

Connecting Db2 and Db2 for z/OS

Mainframes continue to store much of the world’s most valued data. The platform is capable of 110,000 million instructions per second, which (doing the math) translates into a theoretical 9.5 trillion instructions per day. With such high-value data, much of which holds highly sensitive financial and personal information, the mainframe is a potential target for cyber criminals. Thankfully, the IBM Z platform is designed to be one the most securable platforms. In fact, the IBM z16 is industry’s first quantum-safe system.

The invention of parallel sysplex and Db2 data sharing remains a seminal moment in the history of databases and a staggering technological achievement. Overall, this demonstrates the advantages gained from the deep integration and synergy that exists between software and hardware on the IBM mainframe. Parallel sysplex and Db2 data sharing delivers the ultimate in scalability and continuous availability for mission-critical workloads.

Diving into Db2 for z/OS Version 13 innovations

IBM Db2 for z/OS version 13, released May 2022, brings further leading-edge innovation to reinforce Db2 for z/OS as a foundation for enterprise computing within the hybrid cloud world.

Db2 13 for z/OS delivers significant advances in all critical enterprise database success factors—availability, scalability, performance, security, and ease of use. The value of Db2 13 is also maximized by synergy with surrounding tools and technology. The latest advances in IBM Z hardware couple with AI technology through SQL Data Insights to deliver first-of-its-kind semantic SQL query support for unprecedented business value from data.

New and improved application development tooling, new capabilities like AI infusion for enhanced operational efficiency as well as IBM Db2 Data Gate complement the new capabilities in Db2 13

Delivering hybrid transactional and analytical processing

Db2 for z/OS can deliver enterprise-scale hybrid transactions/analytical processing (HTAP), thanks to patented consistency and coherency model and its heterogeneous scale-out architecture.

The ability to ingest hundreds of thousands of rows each second is critical for more and more applications, particularly for mobile computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). With the IoT, tracking website clicks, capturing call data records for a mobile network carrier, tracking events generated by “smart meters” and embedded devices can all generate huge volumes of transactions.

Many consider a NoSQL database essential for high data ingestion rates. Db2, however, allows for very high insert rates without having to partition or shard the database—all while being able to query the data using standard SQL with Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability (ACID) compliance on the world’s most stable, highly available platform.

In 2016, Db2 for z/OS moved to a continuous delivery model that provides new capabilities and enhancements through the service stream in just weeks (and sometimes days) instead of multi-year release cycles. This delivers increased agility while maintaining customer-related quality, reliability, stability, and security. Coupled with a continuous delivery model, Db2 continues to invest in availability, performance, and scalability to cope with the most demanding workloads of today and the future. Overall, this supports millions of inserts a second, trillions of rows in a single table and more.

IBM Db2 for z/OS is the data server at the heart of many of today’s data warehouses, powering IBM analytics solutions like Cognos, SPSS, QMF, ML for z/OS, IBM Db2 Analytics Accelerator, Data Gate and more. Db2 for z/OS has created a sense of “Data Gravity,” where its high value prompts organizations to co-locate their applications and analytics solutions with their data. This helps remove unnecessary network and infrastructure latencies and reduce cost and security vulnerabilities.

The sheer volume and velocity of the transaction workloads, the richness of data in each transaction and the data in log files is a potential gold mine for machine learning and AI applications to exploit cognitive capabilities, creating a more intelligent and secure solution. IBM Watson Machine Learning for z/OS was recently released, built on open-source technology, and leveraging the latest innovations while making any perceived complexities of the platform transparent to data scientists through the IBM Data Science Experience interface.

Let’s celebrate

After four decades, let’s all applaud IBM Db2 and IBM Db2 for z/OS’s unwavering reliability, its pioneering spirit, and its impressive impact on the world of data management. Db2 has been a trusted companion for businesses, consistently adapting to the evolving needs of enterprises and enabling them to thrive in the digital era. 

Let’s also applaud the technological innovation and quality that has been the hallmark of Db2 from the start and its impact upon the world of data management. Db2—whether on Z or LUW—is the trusted platform for business, continuously adapting to the evolving needs of the world’s most demanding enterprises, enabling them to thrive in the digital and AI era. Db2 stands ready to embrace new challenges and opportunities within AI in the hybrid cloud data ecosystem. With its rich legacy and relentless commitment to innovation, Db2 will continue to shape the future of data management and inspire generations to come. 

Thank you to the many talented people that have participated in the success of Db2’s past, present, and future. 

I would like to also thank my coauthors Namik Hrle, Vikram Murali, Haakon Roberts, and Dr. Michael Kwok for their contributions to this blog post.

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider, helping clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM's hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently, and securely. IBM's breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM's legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity, and service.

For more information, visit: www.ibm.com.

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