IBM Db2 Database Review

Offers a valuable Database Partitioning Feature and has good performance


What is our primary use case?

The primary use for our Db2 database is for OLAP (Online Analytical Processing). Our department is using it for data warehousing and data analysis.  

We are deploying some of our enterprise systems to Azure. We would like to migrate data there and most of the systems will be running on the infrastructure as a service, so we will have lots of servers. Migrating data from Db2 becomes an important matter.  

Our target currently is to create the infrastructure which would include the servers, the backup solutions, the databases, application servers and whatever else we need.  

How has it helped my organization?

Db2 enables us to analyze big amounts of structured data in DataWarehouse solutions.

What is most valuable?

The feature that is one of the most valuable in Db2 is the DPF, or the Database Partitioning Feature that use Massive Parallel Processing architecture. We have deployments where one database is deployed on multiple physical servers. It is not exactly like RAC from Oracle. The purpose is not the availability but the performance and scalability of the DPF.  

What needs improvement?

Integration with other services could use some improvement. Currently, we are using Informatica ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) and the data is not loading as expected between the Db2 database and Informatica. Our goal is to eventually migrate the data to Azure servers and evaluate how it will perform. Currently, we are doing a POC (Proof of Concept) on this migration, but the second step cannot be completed without a dependable data load.  

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Db2 for a long time. Maybe 15 years.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

DB2 is very scalable offering multichoice of possiblities - massive parallel processing and also  clustering.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have technical support from IBM. If I had to evaluate their services, the quality really depends on the person that gets the ticket. There are some very good specialists on the technical support team and some that are not so good.  

If the ticket is critical, it will go to a queue and the IBM team will help you out very quickly and efficiently. Of course, sometimes critical problems are difficult and take some time to resolve.  

If I had to rate technical support overall, then I would give them about an eight-out-of-ten.  

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We are a typical enterprise with the typical array of databases. Primarily we use Db2 and MS SQL, and some others. We have reporting tools like Business Objects, Power BI and Micro Strategy. We also have data warehouses. So we have ETL tools and then we need to have the backups, scheduling, and monitoring. We are using more than one database type for different reasons, so it is not exactly that we have switched away from something else to Db2.  

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. I think that installing the Db2 is not that complex and it should not be a problem for a skilled DBA.  

What about the implementation team?

Usually, we use our own team to maintain our products and we do not require outside services from vendors.  

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

As we have experience with a variety of database types any one of them could play into our architecture. I was hoping to have PaaS backup solution for the Db2 that we plan to deploy to Azure. But current plan is to back up the Db2 database to storage instead to some service in cloud. Doing it this way we would need to do a work-around and manage the backups by scripting and manage the retention and the sizes and disk drives. It is not optimal and it would be better if we could just send the backup to some kind of API or service in Azure and just configure it to back up images and files. In our testing, that is currently not working with Db2.  

I was looking for this kind of migration solution for the Db2 database, but I could not find it — which surprises me. I looked at the Tivoli Storage Manager, which supports the Db2 backups to the API, but they do not have that kind of PaaS service in Azure.

What other advice do I have?

I have experience working with both Oracle and Db2. Comparing the two products, I would recommend Db2. Both Oracle and Db2 have some unique features that separate them. Although they are different, in comparing the two databases, they are both enterprise grade databases with lots of good features. But from my point of view, Db2 is much better.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate Db2 as an eight. It is not rated higher because I think that there are things that can be improved. It is currently not perfect. The graphical tools are not good. It is very common for GUI interfaces in IBM products to be lacking. For the first-time user who has no experience with it, the GUI will not seem very straightforward. If you had to work with it for four years, then you get used to it. But for the first-time users, it is not that user friendly.  

If some of the user-interface features can be enhanced, it could be a nine. Db2 is a good database. It is for structured data and there is always room for improvement. It requires an experienced person to handle it.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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