IBM is offering users a taste of its next-generation DB2 Universal Database, which contains 200 self-management, performance and development enhancements.

IBM today announced that the database, codenamed Stinger, is available in beta. The company is again touting the database's autonomic features, which promise to simplify the complexities of management and help reduce the cost of owning and operating DB2.

For instance, the product will have a tool called DB2 Design Advisor that can automatically optimise database performance and allow certain tasks to be completed 6.5 times faster than if they required human intervention, IBM said.

Among the other features announced is a client rerouting capability, according to Les King, senior manager of DB2 development. This enables a user's desktop to automatically fail over to a backup database when the primary DB2 database server has gone off-line. This could ensure DB2 availability during both planned and unplanned downtime.

In addition, IBM will embed learning optimisation technology in Stinger that will monitor and record actual query response times and find ways to boost data access, said King.

IBM is also tweaking DB2 to handle special geographical types of information, which means it can take into account the curvature of the earth and factor in variance between time zones and other variables, King said. This could help in the creation of land management applications.

The production version of Stinger should be available this autumn.