The iSeries Blog

Sep 10 2007   9:34AM GMT

Is DB2 dead?

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Actually, are all relational DBMSs dead? Maybe not yet, but according to a recent blog, they’re past their time.

Michael Stonebraker over at The Database Column argues that RDBMSs like DB2 and Oracle have outdated designs that don’t perform as well as SQL DBMSs today that are column-oriented:

In short, the world of 2007 is radically different from the world of the late 1970s. However, none of the major vendors have performed a complete redesign to deal with this changed landscape. As such they should be considered legacy technology, more than a quarter of century in age and “long in the tooth”.

In every major application area I can think of, it is possible to build a SQL DBMS engine with vertical market-specific internals that outperforms the “one size fits all” engines by a factor of 50 or so.

Does Mr. Stonebraker have any biases? Well, of course! He is the co-founder and CTO of Vertica Systems, which sells a column-oriented DBMS. Still, the guy is no slouch, as he was the main architect of Ingres and PostgreSQL databases.

That hasn’t stopped the lively discussion that Stonebraker’s post has caused. One development manager has already written that the RDBMS was dead; he later added another post saying that while not dead, RDBMS is legacy.

And as you can expect, there has been plenty of opinions differing from Stonebraker’s bold claim. One IBMer said that all the claims about older, well-run technologies dying out are getting old:

My concern is with someone once again announcing that a popular, highly used, highly effective piece of technology is on its way out the door. Heck, IMS is heading for Version 10 and growing and we still have a herd of shops running pure VSAM.

Another IBMer wrote that these claims are similar to the promise of flying vehicles and automatic tooth-brushers in The Jetsons. A third IBMer, in addition to disagreeing with Stonebraker, calls the post a “marketing shill.” Obviously IBM has a hand in this game as well.

What do you think? Have you explored DBMSs other than DB2 and Oracle, or are those working just fine, thank you very much?

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