When I started my career at IBM, I was convinced that this company had a language of its own. Last week at the IOD Conference in Las Vegas was reminded  feedback from others that not only do we have a different vocabulary but we also make efforts to teach the rest of the world how to impress their friends and loved ones with a few words of IBMspeak. Unfortunately, on occasion, a little bit of knowledge can prove to be a dangerous thing. This is especially dangerous for people who use our free products like DB2 Express-C.

So as not to add to the confusion I will stay away from explaining the meaning of individual words and will try to distill the essence. First, DB2 Express-C comes in two varieties:

  1. Free Non-warranted product and
  2. 12-month License and Maintenance

“Non-Warranted” means that you can use this product in any way you want as long as you comply with the terms of the license.  For those of you who hate reading legal jargon, let me give you the salient points. You can use DB2 Express-C free of charge for development, production and even redistribute it as part of your solution. You can deploy it on any size server machine but you should not meddle with its controls that govern its resource usage (2GB of memory and 2 processor cores). You should also not deploy it on a cluster of any kind. Oh, you should also not export it to countries that US government deems to be “bad” (their definition of “bad”, not yours). Pretty easy.

“Non-Warranted” also means that IBM will not be at your beacon call if something does not work for you. Basically, you get the software as is. If it works for you we are delighted. If you are having difficulties you can summon up the power of the community by going to the DB2 Express-C forum and posting your question.

If this does not work for you you can get 12 Month License and Subscription for $2,995 per DB2 Express-C server. What you will get as part of this subscription is a different license. This license will allow you to deploy DB2 Express-C as a cluster and will even provide clustering software for high availability and disaster recovery. This license will also give you replication capabilities. You can still deploy DB2 Express-C on any size server but DB2 Express-C will use up to 4GB of memory and up to 4 processor cores and you should still not try to disable or circumvent controls that help DB2 Express-C stay within this resource envelope.

So, this describes the “License” part. The second part is “Maintenance”. What you get is:

  • 24*7 support delivered by IBM engineers around the world. These are the same folks that answer the phone when a major airline or a bank or manufacturer calls. Not some low skill support analyst who knows less than you do about the product. These are top notch people. And if the problem is severe, they will work with you and will deliver a fix to address your problem. For those of us accustomed to “the fix may come in the next release” type of a response, this is a welcome thought.
  • Regular FixPaks contain solutions to problems found by all of our DB2 customers not just DB2 Express-C. These fixes are very well tested not just to fix the issue they are designed to address but also not to have side effects that may cause you more pain. In other words, you are getting the benefit of continuous product improvement that is a result of some of the largest database users pounding mercilessly on the DB2 code.
  • No charge product updates. Some other vendors charge you every time there is a new release or a new version of the product out. With DB2, you are always entitled to use the latest version we have and you don’t have to pay IBM anything as long as you are current on your subscription.

One of the most common questions is: “if I am using DB2 Express-C for free, can I install a FixPak?”. The answer is “no”. FixPaks is the benefit of the subscription and it is not available free of charge. This does not mean that your free DB2 Express-C will get out of date. We do refresh the free version of DB2 Express-C but we don’t do it on the same schedule and we don’t use FixPaks. As a matter of fact, we are about to refresh the free DB2 Express-C with v9.5.2. You can download the beta of this refresh from the DB2 Express-C download page.

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