I’ve now had a chance to talk with IBM about its recently-announced Oracle emulation strategy for DB2. (This is for DB2 9.7, which I gather has been quasi-announced in April, will be re-announced in May, and will be re-re-announced as being in general availability in June.)
Key points include:
- This really is more like Oracle emulation than it is transparency, a term I carelessly used before.
- IBM’s Oracle emulation effort is focused on two technological goals:
- Making it easy for an Oracle application to be ported to DB2.
- Making it easy for an Oracle developer to develop for DB2.
- The initial target market for DB2’s Oracle emulation is ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) much more than it is enterprises. IBM suggested there were a couple hundred early adopters, and those are primarily in the ISV area.
Because of Oracle’s market share, many ISVs focus on Oracle as the underlying database management system for their applications, whether or not they actually resell it along with their own software. IBM proposed three reasons why such ISVs might want to support DB2:
- Oracle is expensive. In particular, IBM suggested it is more flexible on licensing terms for resale than Oracle is. I find that easy to believe.
- Hey, there’s a DB2 market or installed base out there of some size — why not address it?
- Acquisition-fueled expansion in applications makes Oracle a much bigger competitor to many ISVs (all around the world) than it used to be before. That one makes all kinds of sense.
And by the way — if I wanted an Oracle-emulating DBMS, I’d feel a lot happier about doing business with IBM than I would with EnterpriseDB.
IBM feels that DB2’s Oracle compatibility is a strict superset of EnterpriseDB’s, which it presumably has carried over more or less in its entirety. I didn’t press too hard for examples of what Oracle emulation DB2 offers and EnterpriseDB doesn’t, but IBM did say something about support for more programming languages. IBM was clear on one broad area where DB2 does not offer Oracle emulation, which is the specifics of various kinds of datatype support or other specialized data access methods. For example, IBM has its own syntax for querying text, geospatial, or XML data, and has not added support for Oracle’s alternative approaches.