Sensing a change in the way customers store and analyse data, IBM has updated its flagship DB2 relational database management software to handle a wider range of data processing duties.

The company has also updated its InfoSphere data warehouse software.

"We believe we're in a new era of data management. The answer to every data challenge today is not to use a relational database management system," said Bernie Spang, IBM's director of strategy and marketing for database systems. "It's about using the right tool for the right job."

Version 10 of both products will be available 30 April.

Both products are faster and work more efficiently, IBM claims. DB2 can cut storage space requirements by up to 90 percent, and InfoSphere can execute queries up to 10 times faster than before, according to IBM.

Both products have new capabilities as well. DB2 can now work with the World Wide Web Consortium's RDF (Resource Description Framework) data format. InfoSphere can now communicate with Apache Hadoop deployments.

First major update in four years

DB2 version 10 is the first major update for the database system software in four years. IBM released DB2 version 10 for z/OS in 2010. This release is for Linux, Unix and Windows systems, and has a different codebase and is maintained by different set of developers from the z/OS version.

This is the first version of DB2 to support RDF. RDF stores data in three parts, a subject, a predicate and an object. The predicate describes the relationship between the two other pieces of data. Structuring data this way allows software programs to understand how disparate pieces of information may fit together. IBM uses the technology in its Rational Jazz collaboration software to identify dependencies in a software development process.

Other enhancements to DB2 include that backups can be done more quickly and basic I/O has been accelerated, IBM said.

Another feature is designed to make the database more flexible. It now features multi-temperature data management, where administrators can designate the specific storage devices for certain classes of data. Data that needs to be accessed quickly, for instance, can be stored on speedy solid-state drives, whereas less valuable data can be stored on more inexpensive, though slower, tape drives.

The software offers a new way to query temporal data, through a feature called time travel. This feature has been popular with users of the z/OS version of DB2, Spang said. A user or a program can examine data as it existed in the database during any given period of time. This can be useful in analysing emerging trends. While programmers can already write code to extract such data, the software provides hooks to make queries easier to execute.

Coca Cola have saved by using IBM

The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. has been testing DB2 through an early access beta program. The company switched its SAP databases in 2008 from Oracle to IBM, and has since saved US$1 million (£624,000) in licensing, maintenance and storage costs since then, according to Tom DeJuneas, Coca-Cola IT team manager.

Its tests with the new DB2 have shown it could increase data compression by 20 percent, on top of the already-substantial improvements in the previous version. The tests revealed "some really nice performance increases," DeJuneas said.

The update to InfoSphere is the first version of the software to support the Hadoop data processing framework, meaning users can commission Hadoop jobs and access the results directly from within InfoSphere. This is also the first version to allow for continually updated data sets, which can help organizations get closer to real-time data analysis.

DB2 version 10 can be downloaded at no cost for production environments that require no more than two processor cores and 2GB of memory. The price for larger implementations starts at $6,180 including a year of support. InfoSphere pricing is based on number of processors or, for the first processor, the amount of data being stored. The basic version starts around $40,000 per terabyte.