You don’t have to be a genius to guess that IBM is hard at work on the next version of its DB2 database product. And it would not be a big stretch to imagine what there is probably some sort of an alpha/beta program in place. OK, both points are true. As a matter of fact, the Early Experience program goes all the way back to the Summer of 2010.

Portrait of Galileo Galilei

A couple of weeks ago we released Alpha 4 of the next version of DB2 without much fanfare, pump or ceremony. Why so quietly? Is there no interesting new functionality that IBM would want to know about? is the quality not there yet? Not at all. The upcoming version of DB2 is bristling with some really cool functions and despite the “Alpha” designation the code seems to be very stable.

There are two main reasons for the stealth release. One has to do with the fact that this this Early Experience program is under NDA and none of us can really talk about the functionality. In the post-Enron era, the rules for corporate governance and revenue recognition made it very difficult for vendors like IBM to openly preview enhancements in future versions. So, you need to apply to participate.

The second reason is related to how we offer this Early Experience. We in the DB2 team are quite excited about Cloud Computing. We think that is a great way to get IT resources like servers, storage and networking on a moments notice and without having a budget. We thought that this would be a perfect delivery mechanism for getting the world to experience the upcoming version of DB2. Instead of trying to find hardware, install and patch OS, and then download and install DB2 code, you simply go to the cloud and in less than 30 minutes (coffee break included) you get your very own DB2 server. And this server is not going to cost you thousands of $s. Your bill for renting this capacity is a paltry 34 cents per hour and you pay only for the time that your server is up and running. Want to spend an hour learning new or maybe even older features, just power up your DB2 server by flicking a virtual switch. When done, shut it down just like you would a real server. At the end of the month your credit card will be billed for 34 cents. Here is my favorite part and a second reason we don’t have to try hard to let everyone know that a new drop of the DB2 code is ready. Whenever we update DB2 to a new level your DB2 server on the cloud is automatically updated to run the new version of the code. No need to rediscover issues that have already been fixed. No need to uninstall the older version of the DB2 and install the latest. its magic.

While I can’t talk about the new functions of the DB2 product here, I can boast about the improvements in how we deliver the Early Experience program on the cloud. As of a couple of weeks ago, we have greatly improved the time it takes to boot up your DB2 server in cloud data centers in Europe and Asia. Boot time was already very fast if you hosted your DB2 server in one of the cloud data centers in North America. Now you can place your server in a data center in EU – Ireland or APAC – Singapore and have your DB2 server boot in less than 4 minutes (about 15 minutes for the first launch). Update: As of March 2, 2011 you can also place your DB2 server in Japan.

Also updated is the Technology Explorer. Technology Explorer is a gerat way to learn DB2 in general and new functionality in particular. It provides fully scripted demonstrations of the key functions. You reach Technology Explorer by simply pointing your web browser to the hostname or IP address of your server. Nothing to install or configure … instant gratification.

If you are interested in previewing what is new in the upcoming version of DB2, or if you are curious about the cloud delivery, fill out a very simple application form. Once approved, you will spend less than 30 minutes to get up and running and will begin your exploration process.

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