For its 40th anniversary, IBM is releasing what it is pitching as the most significant release ever of its DB2 database, featuring more than 100 new features in areas such as fault tolerance, business intelligence, security and Java programming.

Available from 26 March, DB2 Universal Database for z/OS Version 8 for IBM's eServer zSeries mainframes will help business automate information flow, the company said.

While client-server and Web-based systems have grabbed a lot of attention in recent years, DB2 on the mainframe is still experiencing growth, said Jeff Jones, IBM director of strategy for DB2 information management solutions. "We're doing just fine," he said, although he refused to give specific figures.

With Version 8, IBM is making improvements such as database row-level security, Jones said. "It's the biggest release we put out in the history of DB2 on the mainframe," in terms of enhancements, he said.

Storage capacity has been increased by taking advantage of 64-bit processing capabilities in zSeries mainframes. "We can address storage at the 16-exabyte (level) which is an absolutely enormous amount of information."

To improve business intelligence support, the QMF (Query Management Facility) tools in the database can access DB2 Cube Views on versions of DB2 on Linux, Windows, and Unix systems. As a result, mainframe applications can make use of this function. "These are automatically clustered data elements in DB2 which make it easier for high-speed analysis," Jones said.

Asked if Cube Views would be offered natively on the mainframe version of the database itself, Jones replied that IBM was working on it.

To reduce downtime, an online schema evolution function enables adjustments to be made to the database without taking it down. A new recovery function speeds up outage restoration by enabling the database to be moved back to a specific point when an administrator knows the system was functioning properly. "It's a faster, more granular recovery capability," said Jones.

Database consultant Martin Hubel of MHC listed new features of note, such as schema evolution. "I've got customers with billions of rows and tables who need to add or rotate partitions," he said. "The schema evolution will help with that." IBM has also fixed old errors such as mismatching data types that resulted in not being able to use an index.

Increasing data storage in DB2 is necessary, with customers' data storage and memory requirements increasing, Hubel said. "IBM has to do it. It removes an awful lot of the artificial things they've had to do in the past" that stored additional data within memory, he said.

Also in DB2, a new tool for WebSphere users lets any Web browser become a zero-maintenance thin client for visual access to DB2 data. Additionally, changes have been made to the SQL language in the database to make it easier to write Java applications. Unicode support, for international language capabilities, has been enhanced to enable switching between alphabets.

Pricing of the database is subject to MIPS workload requirements, IBM said.