IBM's vintage Db2 database jumps on AWS's cloud bandwagon
Users on the mainframe will have to wait for their system to become available in the cloud service, though
Updated Cloud giant AWS has announced the inclusion of IBM's Db2 database — among the first relational databases on the market — as one of the systems available on its Relational Database Service.
The development of Db2 began in the 1970s and it was first released as a product for the IBM mainframe in 1983. In recent years, users have been scratching their heads about moving to the cloud.
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In October 2022, Michael Kwok, executive director for Db2 in IBM's Data and AI division, said Big Blue was planning to "deploy fully managed services to IBM Cloud as the primary cloud of choice with self-managed reference architectures for others."
Big Blue had already launched the universal container, Db2u, to get a more or less cloud-native version of the database, but it was only available on RedHat OpenShift. In July last year, IBM announced the container would be available for Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), with Azure AKS soon to follow.
At its re:Invent conference in Las Vegas this week, AWS added Db2 to its RDS, joining other popular databases including Oracle, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.
Db2 users could migrate self-managed workloads to Amazon RDS using AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS) or native Db2 tools, AWS said. Existing IBM Db2 licenses would also qualify them for a subscription discount via a Bring Your Own License model. Db2 RDS was set to be available in "most" AWS regions, it said.
"By working with AWS to bring Db2 to Amazon RDS, we're helping companies prepare for the next generation of applications, analytics, and AI workloads that will power the modern economy," said Dinesh Nirmal, senior vice president of products, IBM Software.
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However, Db2 specialist Craig Mullins, president and principal of Mullins Consulting, pointed out that the new AWS database service only applis to the version of Db2 that runs on Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Unix operating systems. The service did not include Db2 for z/OS mainframe or Db2 for i-series mid-range users, he said.
"When IBM uses the term Db2 without a qualifier, this is the Linux/Unix/Windows version of the DBMS," he explained.
Nonetheless, the GA of Amazon RDS for Db2 is great news for Db2 users, Mullins said. "This brings IBM's leading DBMS technology onto the leading cloud platform, thereby giving Db2 users a great solution for fully managed Db2 in the Amazon cloud."
He said users might be tempted to switch from on-premises to the cloud to reduce the burden of administrative tasks, yet there will be practical implications to consider. Given the volume of data commonly held in Db2, the migration might not be a simple task of moving data over the network.
Meanwhile, users might want to look at the costs of reversing the move to the cloud should they re-evaluate their decision to opt for Db2 on RDS.
"Organizations should consider the possibility that they might, at some point, want to either move to another cloud provider or back on-premises. Both of these actions would require data egress out of the Amazon cloud, which will have a cost associated with it," Mullins said. ®
Updated to add on December 1:
We asked IBM and AWS whether or not the RDS will support the i-series or z-series version of Db2, and the reasons behind the decision. AWS said it didn't talk about its "roadmap."
When we asked AWS what the data egress costs would be, should users decide RDS no longer fits their needs for Db2 while moving to the cloud, it responded: "Egress costs are standard across RDS engines." It said that information on Amazon RDS for Db2 data transfer costs could be found on its website here.