One of my favorite aspects of working at IBM is the fact that I am a mobile employee. In other words, I primarily work from home. At this stage in my life, with a young and growing family, working from home has many benefits.

I must admit that when I first joined IBM, I was skeptical about the effectiveness of a “virtual office”. I could not imagine a distributed team operating in an effective and efficient manner. There certainly is a “tax” involved in distributed operations—it does require extra coordination and communication. However, I have been genuinely surprised at how effective and efficient the virtual teams are at IBM. In my opinion, one of the primary reasons for this effectiveness is Lotus Sametime—the communications and collaboration software we use.

Lotus Sametime is impressive technology. I am not saying that just because it is software from IBM. The levels of collaboration that it facilitates across teams distributed around the world are remarkable. The integration of global employee profiles, up-to-date location information, instantaneous availability information, up-to-date calendar information, instant messaging, instant meetings, file sharing, and more is impressive. But when it operates flawlessly and instantaneous for almost 400,000 employees spread around the world you get to understand why it is impressive technology. (Also, I think that the user interface design is a big factor in its success.)

After this introduction, you can imagine why my interest was piqued when I came across an article about integrating the native XML storage capability in DB2 with Lotus Sametime. In this article, Susan Malaika and Christian Pichler provide a plug-in for this integration and then go on to demonstrate how it can be used to improve information sharing in a healthcare environment that uses the HL7 industry format. Of course, this integration could be leveraged to facilitate speedy collaboration and communications in any environment that has XML data.

The article is available at Lotus Sametime and DB2 pureXML supporting healthcare collaboration.

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The lead story in the latest copy of Intel Software Insights magazine is about complex computation at blistering speeds. It is basically an article about breakthroughs in the performance of business software. There is prominent coverage for the breakthroughs in native XML storage, and for DB2 pureXML in particular. You can read this current issue at IntelĀ® Software Insight Magazine.

Insight Magazine (Issue 16)

XML Database in the Cloud

February 11, 2009

The success of cloud computing is as inevitable as the success of alternative energy sources. It’s going to take quiet a few years to realize its full potential. But it will, in time, comprise a significant portion of the market.

Cloud computing just makes sense on so many levels. It is classic “ecomony of scale” in action. For some organizations, it will prove to be a more cost-efficient option for certain tasks than an in-house data operations. Or, for larger organizations, it will allow the centralization of IT resources in ways that were not previously considered. It will allow organizations to quickly have an enterprise-class infrastructure, without the significant up-front costs. In some instances, it will allow organizations to focus their energies and activities on their core competencies, and outsource certain IT activities to the cloud. The reasons for its adoption will be numerous, and will depend on the particular circumstances of each situation.

However, the cloud won’t be for everyone. There are many organizations that have large capital investments in their data centers that they will be reluctant to write off any time soon. Also, many organizations have efficient IT operations, that quite frankly are more cost-effective than the cloud over the long haul. And many organization many want to retain “control” over their data center operations for various reasons. Although I expect this concern to diminish over time. But, while the cloud may not be for everyone, it will still occupy a significant portion of IT spend.

Also, there will probably be justified resistance when it comes to moving certain types of applications to the cloud until we have concrete proof points for their successful implementation. For instance, transactional and latency-sensitive systems may not use the cloud for performance reasons, and mission-critical systems may not use the cloud because of the high costs associated with the data bandwidth required. Concerns about reliability are also warranted, especially for mission-critical systems. Even a few hours of downtime can have a devastating effect on a business, so unless there are acceptable back-up provisions in place, cloud computing may be unacceptable for such applications.

However, this still leaves many, many opportunities for cloud computing. My best guess is that spending on cloud computing will rise to something approaching 7.5% of total IT spending in 3 years time, with significant growth expected beyond that timeframe. I have seen respected sources forecast higher rates of adoption. But 20 years of working with emerging technology has taught me to be relatively conservative when forecasting new technology adoption.

You may have noticed a number of cloud computing announcements from IBM yesterday. Well, there are even more announcements today. In one of those announcements, IBM revealed that you can now use DB2 software licenses on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). This is similar to a recent announcement from Oracle, where they allow you to transfer certain Oracle Database licenses to certain cloud environments. However, with this announcement, IBM is going further than Oracle by also offering an hourly pricing alternative. That’s right, you can use DB2 on Amazon EC2 by paying only a low hourly rate.

Amazon will offer both developer and production versions of the IBM database software as part of the Amazon Web Services. Immediately available at no charge are DB2 Express-C Amazon Machine Instances (AMIs) for development and test purposes. These provide an ideal opportunity for you to create a “DB2 in the cloud” prototype, or to quickly build pre-production applications based on “DB2 in the cloud”.

So now you have no excuse for not checking out DB2 and its native XML storage capabilities in the cloud. For more information and to download the AWIs, see DB2 Express-C 9.5 Amazon Download page.

I am happy to say that, today, IBM announced that the pureXML feature is now a core part of the DB2 software. Up until now, for the workgroup and enterprise editions of DB2, pureXML had been a separate feature.

This is a great development for those of us who evangelize the adoption of XML. It is something that I have personally campaigned for internally in IBM.

Strong levels of XML adoption combined with strong levels of pureXML adoption are the driving force behind this development. Essentially, pureXML has emerged to become a core data type in much the same way as the traditional relational data types.

This reflects the large amount of information in XML format in organizations around the world. XML has emerged to become the ubiquitous data format for many applications and environments, driven by the adoption of industry formats like HL7 in the healthcare industry, ACORD in the insurance industry, FIXML and FpML in the financial services industries, SEPA in European Banking, NIEM in Government, XBRL for financial reporting, and so on.

So, what does this mean for you? First, it means that you don’t have to pay extra for the pureXML feature. It is now part of the core DB2 database. Second, it means that pureXML will receive the same ongoing levels of commitment to excellence as the other parts of the DB2 core product itself. This is certainly good news for all of us.

Would you like to attend an industry conference, but cannot get travel approval? Well, IBM is hosting a free online conference about managing your data on February 25, 2009. This one-day conference will feature:

  • Live webcasts
  • Live chat with industry experts
  • Information booths

Merv Adrian of Forrester Research will even talk about the current Integrated Data Management revolution.

This conference will cover how the smarter data revolution is creating new opportunities for you to:

  • Improve access to data
  • Increase data security
  • Lower your data management costs

In other words, the conference covers software that helps you manage your data, including databases of course.

To register for this event, please visit http://event.on24.com/event/13/19/53/rt/register.html

Henrik’s Blog

February 5, 2009

Last month, my colleague Henrik Loeser joined the blogosphere at http://blog.4loeser.net/. Henrik is one of the foremost technical authorities on DB2 pureXML. So, if you are interested in DB2 pureXML, you should read his blog. You may also learn some other interesting facts from time-to-time. Thanks to his blog, I have been introduced to the fascinating passive house concept.

It appears that DB2 pureXML is poised to win the 2008 SOA World Magazine Readers Choice Award for Best XML Database (http://soa.sys-con.com/general/rcvote.htm). Although the results are not yet official, DB2 pureXML has amassed a huge lead over its competitors in this survey.

The results of this survey don’t totally surprise me. When I examined the DB2 pureXML business last year, I noticed that a significant portion of our many hundreds of paying customers were deploying DB2 pureXML in SOA environments. And when you add this to the many thousands of users of our no-charge DB2 Express-C product, that makes a lot of DB2 pureXML users in SOA environments.

Of course, native XML storage makes a lot of sense for SOA environments. Persisting XML data in a native XML format eliminates costly data transformations that bog down many SOA environments. SOA environments that use native XML storage are easier to implement, maintain, and update.

Here is a screen capture of the SOA World Magazine Web page showing the unofficial results of the Reader’s Choice survey:

SOA World Magazine