In the past year we have spent a lot of effort putting DB2 on the cloud and we achieved absolutely fantastic results. Db2 has proven to be a hit on both the Amazon cloud, on RightScale and on the IBM Developer Cloud. But all this focus on running applications on the rented IT infrastructure in the cloud does not mean we don’t care about people who want to have their own IT equipment. The free DB2 Express-C is a good fit for small and medium business and an even better fit for remote offices of very large enterprises. But, let’s face it, you don’t start building your IT infrastructure for a small business or a branch office by plunking down a database server. You are probably going to want to put up a secure network with an internet connection, enable some file and printer sharing, deploy antivirus software, and you are most likely going to want an email to replace your carrier pigeons. And when you are done with all that foundation stuff, that is when you will want to put in some web presence, maybe a wiki and a specialized application to manage your business. After all, it is a business you are running, right? So that is when you will need a database to hold and manage the data for your wiki, content management and applications. We think that DB2 Express-C is just about perfect for that.
The good news is that IBM offers an excellent set of software, and optionally hardware, to build that foundation stuff. It is appropriately called Lotus Foundations. It is well packaged fully integrated set of software that has pretty much everything a small office would need including a DNS and DHCP servers for adding new machines, a firewall, VPN, antivirus, file and print sharing, email, calendaring and office applications (spreadsheet, word processor, presentation) etc. All of this is wrapped around with a very easy to use web based administration interface that helps you manage things on a daily basis even if you have no IT skill what so ever. It helps you add users when you hire new people, automatically back up all of your critical data etc. etc. etc. And did I mention that it is designed for a typical office worker with only the very basic computer skills! It is based on Linux which can be a great thing as you are not going to have pesky viruses or the never-ending second Tuesday of the month Windows updates. You are also not going to suffer from the all too familiar “my machine no longer runs as fast as it did when we first got it” syndrome. But let’s face it, Linux is not the thing you would want your typical office manager to much around. However, when using Lotus Foundations you are not going to be able to tell that it is based on Linux any more than you are able to tell that some of the TV set top boxes or home network routers run on Linux. It is all hidden away by that nice office manager friendly admin interface that you use in a web browser.
I may be letting my enthusiasm run a bit ahead of me here. As easy as Lotus Foundations is, most small business will likely get a consultant to deploy and manage it for them and, I think it is a great opportunity for the consultants to get their customers’ IT infrastructure on the right foundation, pardon the pun. By the way, Lotus Foundations is available as an complete software suit that you deploy on your own hardware or as a hardware appliance from IBM.
So, what about those databases? We partnered with the Lotus Foundations development team and have created a special package of DB2 Express-C that fits right in to the Lotus Foundations server environment. We started with a “one click no questions asked installation” that takes less than 5 minutes. At the end of the install, you get DB2 deployed in a way that is fully integrated in to Lotus Foundations. “Integrated” means that when you add users to Lotus Foundations (you or your customers will grow their business, right?) these users are ready to be authorized to use DB2 i.e. no need to manage users in two places. Lotus Foundations has a fully automated disk-based backup and DB2 Express-C is fully integrated in to it. You will not have to run any DB2 backup/restore commands. DB2 backups are scheduled and integrated (here is that big word again) in to Lotus Foundations backup schedule. And, not only backups scheduled, management of backup images is done for you as well so that old backups are no clogging up your disk. Nice! Speaking of “Nice”, we made sure that DB2 Express-C plays nice with the other applications on the Lotus Foundations server. After all, you would hate it if your email became slow just because your book keeper has to do a financial month close. DB2 Express-C is set up to do a good job of consuming as little shared resources (e.g. memory) as possible and return what it does not use to the operating system so it can give these resources to the other applications.
If you want to learn more about DB2 Express-C for Lotus Foundations and going to be at Lotusphere 2010 (Jan. 17-21) in Orlando come talk to us at booth IBM 34 or come hear a presentation in Europa 10 on Tuesday Jan. 19 noon. The combination of the Lotus Foundations and the free DB2 Express-C is a great way for both the Lotus Foundations and the DB2 consultants to bring value to their customers. Lotusphere is a great opportunity to learn how to do that. And as always, DB2 Express-C is free and you will get a free book on DB2 Express-C if you come see us.