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IBM quiet about flagship database Db2, despite nice upgrades • The Register

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It’s the time of year when one might wonder what happened to that avuncular family figure whose existence was so reliably dull they passed into history almost forgotten – a little like Db2, IBM’s flagship relational database that has faded from users’ collective memory.

Big Blue’s system of choice for its mainframes and big Unix/Linux boxes is still very much alive and kicking and has even delivered a smattering of news in recent weeks, with a high profile attendee at the early December International Db2 Users Group European Conference telling us that select users were told of the new “Db2u”, a set of containers for Db2 aimed at users exploring or working with the database in the cloud.

Conference speaker, Db2 DBA, and commentator Ember Crooks had posted earlier this year that “db2u sounds amazing to me” and that “db2u, conceptually, is a nearly cloud-native way of doing a relational database management system.” But she also pointed out that “the problem I run into is that db2u is only available on RedHat OpenShift.”

Now, according to Crooks, IBM seems to be porting Db2u to container services Amazon EKS and Azure AKS.

Enthusing about the apparent move last week, Crooks wrote: “There is no printed statement yet that I can refer to, nor is there a more solid date … but when I talked to the platform team at work, we’re looking for workloads to try on Amazon EKS, so the moment it becomes available, I’m ready to do a POC on it and hope that in 2022, I can get my production databases running on it!”

The Register has asked IBM for confirmation of these plans.

Db2 was modelled on the ideas of IBM researcher Edgar Frank “Ted” Codd, who first described the theory of relational databases in 1970. The first products became available on IBM mainframes in 1983 and on later on Unix, Linux, and Windows. The product has been styled as “DB/2”, then “DB2” before settling on the current “Db2” in 2017.

While there has been a flurry of innovation and startups in the database market in recent years, Db2 remains ranked the seventh-most-popular database by DB-Engines, which uses a combination of downloads, sales, and citations to rank databases.

It is well behind leader Oracle in its score, but well above, say, Snowflake, which, despite being 17th, has seen an investment frenzy that at once valued the company at $120bn, more than the whole of IBM which includes hardware, mainframes, cloud, and a substantial services operation.

It is frustrating to users, then, that in an era with a seemingly insatiable interest in databases and related data engineering products – Databricks’ nominal value of $28bn is just one more example – IBM seems to lack the appetite to promote its own flagship product.

Sebastian Zok, Db2 user and IDUG EMEA conference chair, welcomed the idea of IBM supporting alternative container platforms. “It’s a good thing because any restriction you have on a system lowers the number of people who want to use it. Now with the possibility of using two containers within native Kubernetes without OpenShift … you open the field for a lot of companies that just thought ‘well yeah, we’re using containers, but we’re not using OpenShift.’ I think they’ll do great with that because they’re expanding their possible customers.”

But Zok said the user community was concerned over the lack of attention IBM is paying Db2 in public.

“IBM isn’t doing the best job of marketing Db2, in general, both on Linux-Unix-Windows and System Z. If you’re asking some tech people that are not so deeply into databases, which databases they know the first thing they say is Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server as well. But people only know Db2 if they have it in their shop already, or if they’re involved in the mainframe. It’s a concern. IBM do better marketing with Db2, just to show the world its capabilities. It’s no worse than Oracle or MS SQL Server. I wouldn’t say it’s way better but it’s a competitor and a really good one.”

Given the status of some Db2 users, it seems a surprising approach from IBM. The technology is relied on by a string of the world’s largest banks and retailers including JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, Bank of America, and Tesco.

However, the community was still encouraged by the technical investments IBM is making in its core database, and requests for technical upgrades were well attended by IBM engineers.

“I don’t think IBM wants to let Db2 die. It’s not like Cobol or anything like that. IBM is near to its customers but only those that have already invested in Db2. We would like to see them try to do a better job [outside that group],” Zok said.

Zok added that the Community License for Db2 on Linux-Unix-Windows, which offered a full-featured database albeit with limited resources, appears promising. It could be an alternative to PostgreSQL, the open-source relational database, for small, start-up projects, he said. “Postgres is good because the community is very responsive. But on the other hand, having a company like IBM behind the product, you know there are the people that develop that stuff and could find problems if you have any.”

IBM is not the only vendor with an interest in Db2 – third parties such as BMC aim to help Db2 users manage, optimise, and safeguard the platform on the mainframe.

April Hickel, VP of Intelligent Z optimization and transformation at BMC, said: “BMC sees continued growth and use of Db2 in customers in line with the positive growth trend of the mainframe.”

In BMC’s latest mainframe survey, 68 per cent of respondents expect MIPS to grow – the highest outlook in the 15-year history of our annual report. “BMC continues to invest in Db2 with quarterly releases of our Db2 solutions with a focus on delivering automation with CI/CD pipeline integrations, using AI/ML to proactively detect issues, automate root cause isolation, and optimise database performance,” Hickel said.

The Register has been encouraging IBM to talk to us about its plans for Db2 for more than a year now with little success.

Noel Yuhanna, Forrester veep and principal analyst, said interest in Db2 from the wider tech community is also dropping off. “We don’t get as many inquiries on Db2 these days compared to five or seven years ago. However, we find many loyal IBM customers like Db2’s scale, reliability, security, performance, and tools to support various workloads.”

IBM seems to have suffered in shifting Db2 to the cloud, he said. But Big Blue has innovated with in-database machine learning, supporting distributed queries through data virtualization, and support for hybrid-cloud environments. “The future of DB2 will depend on whether IBM can attract non-IBM customers, continue to deliver advanced automation and intelligence, and expand on more modern use cases,” Yuhanna said.

While IBM is investing in the platform, its track record in promoting its flagship database outside the core customer base continues to worry users.

IBM: The Register is here if you want to talk. ®

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Angharad Yeo: the 10 funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet) | Comedy

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I am a child of the internet. I was always drawn to computers and tech, and used to beg my dad to bring us to his office on a weekend so we could use the high-speed internet to play Neopets games. As I got older it was all MSN, MySpace, Paramore fan forums, Tumblr, Twitter and now TikTok. I want nothing more than to zone out and look at my little pictures.

One of my favourite things about the internet is that it allows you to see everyone’s best joke. The moment in their life where they were at their absolute funniest – whether it be because they had a moment of brilliant wit or because they got pulled through a panel roof while practising for a high school play (I assume).

The internet has rotted my brain with the following content. Please now allow it to rot yours.

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The Pandemic Years have (and continue to be) difficult for everyone. Who among us has not, at one time or another, needed to just explain themselves by saying: “It’s mental illness, innit?”

2. Perfect burger

When I showed this video to my fiancee, she flatly said: “I like how absurdist it is.” That’s her code for, “I don’t get it, but I’m happy you’re happy.” And I am happy. Look at how confident and brave this burger is – ready to take on the world, come what may. I wish to be the burger.

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I have been to court precisely once because I inadvertently got in a cop’s way and he was grumpy about it so he booked me. The penalty was dismissed but not before I cried in front of the judge trying to explain what happened because I was so stressed out. Court is a daunting place and I simply cannot imagine walking in there with any level of irreverence. However, I’m extremely glad there are people who simply do not care, will say whatever damn thing and then an internet angel turns them into TikToks.

4. Turtle choir

This tweet is made all the more majestic by the vaguely threatening Sylvanian Families-style profile picture, on a Twitter account named @bigfatmoosepssy.

5. Trying coffee with pasta water

Climate change is slowly turning the Earth into a barren ball of pain as Mother Nature smacks us for being extremely bad. Even though individual responsibility for climate change isn’t enough to turn the tide, I still applaud those who try. Twitter user @madibskatin woke up in the morning and decided to be the change she wants to see in the world, tastebuds be damned. One could argue that it’s pretty obvious that pasta water isn’t going to make a good coffee but like my dad says as he puts pineapple juice in his coffee: “If no one tries it, how will we know? What if it’s secretly good?”

6. Soaring, flying

If you look closely, this video is actually a metaphor for the ways in which we attempt to break free from our circumstances, yet are entirely at the mercy of them.

7. You cannot trick me

This may be a parody Twitter account, but the spirit of Gail Walden speaks truths. There is no victory sweeter than that which is gained on thine enemy’s own soil.

8. Self-deprecating jokes

Humour is a coping mechanism. I am coping.

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Dairy products are delicious. Ice-cream? Revolutionary. Cheese? Life-changing. Whipped cream on a pavlova? Essential. But milk? Disgusting. It’s not a drink, it’s a stepping stone to greater things.

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I am absolutely 100% not at all lactose intolerant (I promise) so I don’t relate to this video at all (not even a bit).

Angharad Yeo is the host of Double J Weekends, 9am – midday, Saturdays and Sundays.



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F5 cuts revenue 2022 forecasts amid low network chip stocks • The Register

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The artist formerly know as F5 Networks – it moved to plain old F5 in November – is clipping revenue forecasts for fiscal ’22 by $30m to $90m because it can’t source enough specialised chips to produce systems.

The continued impact of the shortfall was outlined in F5’s Q1 results to 31 December and subsequent earnings conference call, during which chief exec François Locoh-Donou opened up on the challenge of suppliers cancelling orders because they can’t meet demand.

“As a result of persistent strong system demand, our systems backlog continued to grow in Q1,” he said. “Over the last 30 days, suppliers of critical components that span a number of our platforms have informed us of significant increases in decommits.

“These came in the form of both order delivery delays and sudden and pronounced reduction in shipment quantities. The step function decline in components availability is significantly restricting our ability to meet our customers’ continued strong demand for our systems.

“Like others in the industry, we are seeing worsening availability of specialized networking chipsets. Within the last 30 days, we have learned that deliveries for 52-week lead time components or at a year ago have been pushed out and that our expected quantities have been reduced.”

Group turnover grew 10 per cent year-on-year to $687m in F5’s Q1, fuelled by a 47 per cent leap in software to $163m, 2 per cent in services to $344m, and 1 per cent in hardware to $180m.

“Our software transition continues to gain momentum,” said Locoh-Donou, adding later in the earnings call: “While we are solely disappointed that supply chain challenges have gated our ability to fulfil customer demand for systems in the near term, we are more confident than ever in our position, our strategy and our long-term opportunity.”

The backlog grew by 10 per cent so the sales pipeline is looking healthy, said the exec, who was at great pains throughout the call to tell analysts: “It absolutely is a supply issue. And the revision we’ve just done to our annual guidance is 100 per cent linked to the supply issue.”

For the year, F5 now expects sales to grow 4-8 per cent ($610m to $650m).

“The issue with our supply chain has deteriorated steadily. And last year, we were not able to ship the demand, which is why our backlog grew so much during the year.

“Things have been getting worse. And at the beginning of our fiscal year, when we were doing the planning for this year, we actually took into account the number of decommits that we were getting from various suppliers and a situation that was already very tight on a number of components.”

He said in the past month it was seeing more than 400 cancellations from suppliers, “and we were running about 30 per cent less than that even just a month ago – the situation is quite unprecedented.”

In a bid to ameliorate the supply situation, F5 said it is working to design and qualify replacement parts – which may improve thing in the second half of the year. It is also trying to pre-order more components.

F5 is confident that it will not see orders cancelled. “The demand we have is very real. Our lead times, unfortunately, have gotten progressively worse over the last five, six quarters, but we haven’t seen any increase in order cancellation, and we don’t expect to see that going forward,” Locoh-Donou stated.

Supply chain problems with silicon components have been hitting companies in the IT industry and beyond for multiple quarters now, and networking vendors are no less vulnerable.

Last year, Arista warned that lead times for key chips were extending out to 60 weeks, twice what would be expected before the pandemic. Both Arista and Juniper announced they were being forced to bump up prices in November, while Cisco warned its buyers and investors that supply chain issues were likely to persist for several months more, although it expected to see some improvement in the situation for Q3 and Q4, taking us into the second half of 2022. ®

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Cork data centre equipment maker Edpac acquired for €29m

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Munters, a Swedish air treatment technology company, will use the Edpac acquisition to expand into the European market.

Irish data centre equipment manufacturer Edpac has been acquired by Swedish company Munters in a €29m deal.

Based in Carrigaline, Co Cork, Edpac manufactures cooling equipment and air handling systems for data centres in the European market, with additional sales in the Middle East, South America and Asia.

For Munters, which has significant operations in North America, the acquisition is an opportunity for it to expand in the European market. Once complete, the deal will see the transfer of Munters’ technologies and engineering capabilities to Ireland.

“The European data centre market is a prioritised segment for Munters, and the acquisition is a significant step in our growth strategy,” said Klas Forsström, president and chief executive of Munters.

Forsström said that Munters’ experience in the North American market will provide Edpac with “opportunities for further profitable growth” by collaborating on “technology development and establishing unified processes”.

Edpac has two manufacturing facilities in Ireland – Newmarket and Carrigaline – and employs around 150 people in the country. Currently a manufacturing partner for Munters, Edpac sees approximately 7pc of its revenue come from the sale of Munters products.

In the financial year ending April 2021, Edpac reported net sales of €17m and earnings before tax of €1.7m. According to The Irish Times, Edpac managing director Noel Lynch has led the company since it was bought from its Swiss parent in 1991.

“We are excited to welcome Edpac to Munters. Edpac brings an attractive, differentiated customer base and high-quality products,” Forsström said, adding that Edpac’s operating model “is a perfect match with Munters ways of working.”

Founded in 1955, Munters aims to create energy efficient air treatment technologies for customers in a wide range of industries. Listed on Nasdaq Stockholm, it employees 3,300 employees across 30 countries – with annual sales exceeding 7bn Swedish krona in 2020.

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