The Extensible Markup Language (XML) allows information from a variety of applications to be extracted into a common data format and is a key component of service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web services. With DB2 9 for z/OS, mainframers can now store XML data within the relational database.
Before DB2 9, storing XML documents into the database involved a process that is sometimes called "shredding." Now DB2 administrators can simply include the file into the relational database and query XML documents like any other data type. IBM calls the capability pureXML.
"When XML first came on the scene, the answer from DB2 was to either take that whole text object and put it in a single cell, or decompose the data from XML data and put it in the database," said Bernie Spang, director of IBM data servers. "The problem is it takes time for me to do that. It adds complexity to the application development. What we've done with pureXML is to support indexing and querying XML data in hierarchical data alongside relational database data and enable you, with a single query, to search all records."
The notion of being able to have XML natively might seem ho-hum," said Clay Ryder, president of Union City, Calif.-based research firm Sageza Group. "But if you look at what XML is being used for, it's becoming a very powerful vehicle for information."
Ryder added that, along with the ability to host Linux instances on z/VM and allowing Java applications to be run on specialty processors, IBM has realized that it must modernize the mainframe platform.
"It gives more ammunition toward exposing the mainframe into more modern environments," he said. "IBM is trying to get rid of that glass house mentality that the mainframe is over there in the corner doing its own thing. The mainframe is just another arrow in the IT quiver. It's special, but it's not segregated from everything else."
Other features of DB2 9 for z/OS include:
- DataQuant, which allows role-based access to analysis reports, can help a store clerk find out where a certain product is located and have it shipped to a customer's home.
- Better logging capabilities to satisfy auditors.
- Better data compression to save on storage. Spang said that with DB2, companies can save typically 50% to 70% in DB2 storage space by using its compression capabilities.
DB2 9 for z/OS is available today. IBM said prices are about 10% more than DB2 8 subscription prices.