Last week IDUG, the International DB2 User Group announced its sponsorship of “The XML Challenge”, a world wide contest for both professional and aspiring (students) programmers. I don’t want to rehash all of the things about the contest here. Just go to the contest website and read about it. There are several ways to participate. You can record a YouTube like video hopefully of doing something productive with XML and DB2 and not just playing with a bottle of Coke and some Menthos.

You can submit a gadget. There is no strict definition of what a gadget is. In other words, this does not have to be a Google Gadget, or Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets, or Yahoo Widgets or Apple Mac OS X Dashboard Widgets or … you get the point.

You can also port an existing application or you can go for the gusto and write an application using DB2 XML functionality from scratch.

There is also a way to enter the contest by just writing some SQL and XQuery queries. You will find more details here. Bottom line is you get 24 hours to write 5 queries for a chance to win a 32GB Apple iPod Touch.
If you want to do some practice ahead of time for this query contest you are probably want to have access to DB2 with pureXML. One way to get it is to go and download it absolutely free of charge. Once you download it and install it it is yours to keep for as long as you want and you can use it pretty much any way you want i.e. you can continue learning or you can actually use it to deploy your own applications. It will never time out or nag you to buy something. Another way is to use the magic of cloud computing and a little help from our friends at Morph Labs and use a hosted version of DB2 Express-C again, at no charge. What does this really mean? Well, instead of downloading and installing DB2 Express-C and setting up the database for the contest, you can just point your browser at the DB2 hosted on Amazon EC2 and managed by Morph eXchange and just start practicing your queries. Instant gratification!

I think that this whole cloud computing paradigm is actually quite cool and I can not do it justice in this post so I will try my best to do a little series on Amazon Web Services and Morph eXchange and start a discussion how technologies in this space are redefining computing and ow we deploy databases and applications now and what the cloud future holds for us.

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