April 24, 2009

IBM’s Oracle emulation strategy reconsidered

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:

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:

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.


12 Responses to “IBM’s Oracle emulation strategy reconsidered”

  1. ibm-db2 | DBMS2 -- DataBase Management System Services on April 24th, 2009 10:19 pm

    […] is getting Oracle emulation, which I posted about […]

  2. Fazal Majid on April 24th, 2009 11:23 pm

    Porting from Oracle to DB2 is like going from the frying pan into the fire. IBM is certainly no stranger to price-gouging on software and its licensing model manages the rare feat of being even more confusing than Oracle’s.

    Emulation layers have a bad history of biting you when transparency fails, as it almost inevitably in any non-trivial application. Even moving from one version of Oracle to the next is not always fully transparent. In any case the major RDBMS have slightly different ways of doing things, and clinging to the Oracle way will yield sub-par performance on DB2.

    The best target is to port to straight PostgreSQL (not the EnterpriseDB fork). If you haven’t bought into the Java-in-database bandwagon from Oracle and are not using the advanced functionality too much, porting is actually not that hard. I did it for my company’s enterprise marketing automation app in about a month.

  3. Serge Rielau on April 25th, 2009 2:39 am


    We did NOT implement an emulation layer.
    When I add e.g. MINUS as a synonym for EXCEPT.
    Or when I add associative arrays to DB2. Does that make associate arrays and emulation layer? Not at all.

    D we claim 100% support for everything Oracle? Absolutely not. But the ISVs do not require that.
    What they do require is an overlap that is:
    a) Big enough that an existing app can be modified easily and in place so it works against both Oracle and DB2
    b) Allows them to keep the app working against both products without having to constrain fucntion

    EnterpriseDB calls this “one source”.

    I invite you to sign up for the beta and simply try it out. We know this is hard to swallow, trying it out seems to be the only way to prove it. And we have done this by now hundreds of times.


  4. Prashant on May 5th, 2009 8:50 am

    Emulation or no emulation … IBM has been facing the heat from Oracle for a long time … that being compounded by the fact that Oracle beat IBM when it came to buying SUN … as far as pricing is considered, now that Oracle owns the market I really would not care about their pricing … The question is.. What has IBM got to offer to compete … One does not have to look far … Of all the softwares that IBM boats about in the market, majorly being WebSphere and DB2 (Infact both being outclassed by Oracle) … the current market share has been decreasing … and when it comes to PeopleSoft … nobody really prefers to run it on DB2 …

  5. Conor O'Mahony on May 8th, 2009 3:23 pm

    Yes, to be clear, despite what the headline says, there is no emulation layer. The code for these capabilities is deeply integrated into the DB2 engine. And all SQL execution is native.

    As regards market share, DB2 has enjoyed strong levels of growth in recent years. As you know, IBM does not report revenues at the product level. However, on occasion, IBM will highlight strong performers in its official Earnings Calls. DB2 has actually featured quite a bit on recent calls. For instance, distributed relational database was called out as having 30% growth in both the Q2 and Q4 2008 IBM earnings calls (and Q4 was during a time of economic uncertainty). All things considered, I think its fair to say that these levels of growth for such a huge revenue stream are quite impressive.

    As regards the comments about not caring about costs, all I can say is that, over time, we will see if the market cares about costs 🙂

  6. Robert Young on May 10th, 2009 11:41 pm

    If Serge, or someone, can post a white-paper (whatever) that explains how enterpriseDB is “integrated” into LUW, we can all decide for ourselves what’s what. Since DB2 is a locker, and Oracle/Postgres/enterpriseDB/SQLServer are MVCC (in one manner or another), it’s not just a question of adopting Oracle’s SQL idiosyncrasies.

    Moreover, what’s with MySql on the iSeries? Is this another foot in the door to replace real DB2 with something else? Job boards are showing up with install MySql on iSeries listings. Huh?

    Finally, all the talk about DB2 increasing market share generally (but not every year; I see the Gartner PR version only) skips the “fact” that these increases have been mostly in mainframe installs, which is to say COBOL/VSAM systems turned into COBOL/VSAM systems with a SQL layer.

    IBM has been chary about breaking out the revenue sources with good reason: market penetration is not necessarily the same thing as gross market share in revenue.

    What’s regrettable is that DB2/LUW is the best locker database out there.

  7. Norm Wong on July 10th, 2009 10:02 am

    With DB2 V9.7, the new Read Currently Committed behaviour gives it the Writer does not block Reader functionality of MVCC.

    As far as I can tell, unless you are using advanced datatypes (geospatial, XML, BLOBs) you can run the same SQL DML and PL/SQL on Oracle and DB2.

    I’m interested in seeing the TPC numbers with the new index and tempspace compression as well.

    As far as growth is concerned, at my current client site, they went from 0 to over 70 DB2 instances in 1 year. They are a DB2/z and Oracle shop, but the price/performance/ease of use on DB2/LUW has swayed management.

    We’ll see how many ISV’s take the bait.


  8. raj on November 25th, 2009 3:22 pm

    Let us don’t e arrogant saying ‘I don’t care Price’. I am sure all you say this will go to Walmart to by the merchandise. Corporate world is no different from any individuals. The IT things were new and confusing technologies for many for the past two decade that includes CIO and DBA too. But the clouds are clearing there are very specific metrics everyone is looking today. Cost is the major one among. It includes cost of hardware,software,tools,DBA and programmers. Out of these Oracle has advantage of having low cost programmers who generally controlled the software selection for the past many years but not anymore. At the end of the day these all are data processing systems which don’t matter in which software/hardware it uses when it comes to COST. To commute from home to work do you buy BMW or Honda?!!

  9. Kerby Ntini on January 14th, 2010 10:14 am

    hi there i’m looking for an emulation package/ software for oracle , if possible on an ibm platform such as aix.

  10. Netezza Migrator | DBMS2 -- DataBase Management System Services on June 26th, 2010 8:17 am

    […] EnterpriseDB even so, to help pick off Oracle users. IBM’s approach was in the vein of an EnterpriseDB-infused version of SQL handling within DB2.* Netezza just announced an EnterpriseDB-based Netezza […]

  11. RDL on November 9th, 2010 2:48 pm

    @Norm Wong:

    Not the same as MVCC, at all.

    Please read “Restrictions” at:


    … then read:


  12. ANTs Software CEO insults Sybase, claims migration success | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on January 9th, 2015 6:12 pm

    […] link to a claim that IBM has experienced over 300 migrations to DB2. However, that figure includes Oracle-to-DB2 migrations that having nothing to do with ANTs. And by the way, IBM’s migration strategy is focused […]

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