IBM has released the new version of DB2, code-named Viper for customer and partner testing. The product is scheduled to be launched next year.

The company has enhanced XML capabilities of the database: IBM has designed Viper to effectively manage both structured and unstructured enterprise data.

Viper won't require XML data to be reformatted, an advance IBM expects to drastically reduce the work involved for developers in creating applications that tap into both relational and XML data repositories. That change will particularly benefit organisations moving to SOA implementations, which encourage storing data in multiple open formats, IBM noted. Viper will provide XQuery support for XML data processing, along with standard SQL query support.

Viper will be IBM's first DB2 update to support three different partitioning methods: range partitioning, multidimensional clustering and hashing. That change helps IBM better compete with Oracle, which already offers an assortment of partitioning methods in its flagship database software.

To encourage Web developers to check out Viper, IBM plans to offer a beta version of Viper in conjunction with Zend Technologies' Zend Core for IBM. The Zend Core PHP development and production platform is aimed at developers using PHP. IBM offers Zend developers two IBM database options, DB2 for heavy workloads or the lightweight, Java-based Derby database (formerly Cloudscape) that IBM donated last year to the Apache Software Foundation.