25 April 2009

What I told Bob

(Cringely had another post about Sun/Oracle, which needed reply. Since I don't expect that readers there are readers here, I am providing.)

If you read Gartner, and I only see the PR condensed version, DB2 off-mainframe is falling behind every year since 2000. I, and others, speculated that the reason IBM wanted MySql in the first place was to spruce it up, and call it DB2. What those who’ve never been in a DB2 shop don’t understand is that most DB2 installs on are z/OS, and most of those are running 1970 era COBOL code. In such cases, very little of Relational is ever utilized. MySql as simple sql parser in front of the file system is just all that a COBOL (or java) coder needs. MySql == DB2. That was the plan. Now IBM needs Plan B.

I suspect a bit of whistling past the graveyard in that leaked (horrors, how did that get out!!!!!!!!!!!) email. 750 Power customers? This is a big deal? Those are mainframe numbers. Oracle needed, and now has, a weapon to finally kill DB2 off-mainframe. Like it or not, the Intel multi-core/processor machine is ascendant. The off-mainframe database is where the future lies. IBM cannot possibly want a future of being just another Intel OEM, with customers running Open Source software on same. There is no future there. Oracle has built up a portfolio of software for which there is no easy Open Source alternative.

Remember: Oracle is a MVCC architecture database. DB2 is a locker. SQLServer was a pure locker, and has added MVCC (sorta, kinda) in 2008. Postgres is MVCC and Open Source. This architecture difference is not trivial. Why IBM chose to port IMS to DB2, calling it pureXML, is impossible to fathom. It was not a value add for customers in a web environment. The MVCC architecture is widely agreed to be superior there. IBM has to believe, why I cannot fathom again, that its mainframe machine will dominate the future. Its database off-mainframe is not going to.

Finally, IBM had a compliant bitch in Sun vis-a-vis java. That won’t be the case with Larry.


Leon said...

You are so wrong on so many levels. This post is a speculation of IBM intent or supposedly reasoning that went on at various times and they are ALL off the mark. Take it from someone who is in the know and does not need to speculate.

Robert Young said...

There are many points in my posts. Now, a year later, I've seen no data to contradict. Which ones do you have data to refute? Or do you simply have an opinion?

DB2 continues to "grow" on z machines, but not so much on servers. Gartner has stopped posting a PR version of the survey, but I've read nothing from other sources to demonstrate that UDB has reversed trend and growing market. Can you cite a public source that is similar to Gartner for the years 2008 - 2010? IDC, maybe, although I couldn't find it. If you're just going to say that IBM says the server business is growing by leaps and bounds, Nah.

It's been a year or so, but it is a fact that IBM's claims for share growth were based on mainframe "ports" of Olde COBOL/VSAM dumped (rather than normalized) into DB2. Gartner, and others, saw that in the data, and said so. It was the case where I worked, and the IBM folks I talked to admitted it. They frequently laughed at the "schemas" these Fortune X00 knuckleheads used.

The Oracle/Sun merger is working out as I predicted. The software folk from Sun are being jettisoned, and the database is being pushed into mainframe class machines. Sun is pushing SSD storage, while IBM is not. SSD storage, as you will understand if you read here and elsewhere, will re-invigorate the Relational Model and BCNF schemas. You can take that to the bank. Getting rid of those hidebound VSAM folk will aid the cause.

The MVCC issue is as I predicted. After squandering years and dollars on xml (read: IMS revenge) in DB2, there is now "Oracle" compatibility being promoted. The MVCC approaches (including logging file systems) are gaining momentum elsewhere. SSD is one factor in this.

Is the Power machine still anything more than a niche product? No, it is still a niche product. Better question: how long will the z machine be an architecture? My bet, in a couple of years it'll be emulated on commodity microprocessors. May be Power, may be Intel. BCD instructions are moving into said processors. Once they're reasonably optimized, the z architecture no longer has any distinct value. COBOL doesn't care, so long as BCD is in hardware.

Robert Young said...

And the really meaningful point, which I forgot in all the hubbub, is that in the last 2 years (about as far back as my short term memory) I've not seen a DB2 position listing that didn't say:


and the like. Not once have I seen a listing that said DB2 LUW/UDB. You'll find others saying the same on comp.databases.ibm-db2. IF LUW/UDB were a growing platform, clients would be fighting to find people as I. They aren't. The last place I worked for almost a decade, used LUW/UDB only when I (or the client) refused to put up with Green Screen silliness. At that place, SQL Server was the preferred alternative; but then, as most Fortune X00 companies, they still bought into Windoze.

Robert Young said...

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.


IBM still hasn't, that I can find, shown its results from Gartner since they stopped PR-ing the report. No news is bad news.

So, the game continues; DB2 "grows" by displacing VSAM. There is money in doing so, I suppose. How much comes down to the difference in license fees, which I'm not privy to.