The hidden history of Db2

By | 5 minute read | July 5, 2022

In today’s world of complex data architectures and emerging technologies, databases can sometimes be undervalued and unrecognized. The fact is that databases are truly the engine driving better outcomes for businesses — they’re running your cloud-native apps, generating returns on your investments in AI, and the backbone supporting your data fabric strategy.

IBM has been the pioneer in paving the way for data management technologies and advancements for decades, from the first commercial database to quantum computing systems. A crucial part of that journey has been the invention of IBM Db2, a database designed to handle billions of transactions per day, powering today’s largest global operations, from banking to sustainable energy. This is the story of how a technology that was once just a theory has turned into a hybrid, multi-cloud data ecosystem running mission critical workloads. This is the story of Db2.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, vast amounts of data were stored in the world’s new mainframe computers—many of them IBM System/360 machines—and had become a problem. They were expensive. An Oxford-educated mathematician working at the IBM San Jose Research Lab, Edgar “Ted” Codd, published a paper in 1970 showing how information stored in large databases could be accessed without knowing how the information was structured or where it resided in the database. This theory turned into how the relational database was born. Until this point, for many years IBM continued to promote its established hierarchical database system, IBM IMS, which was the database that had helped NASA put a man on the moon. IBM had been hesitant to accept the relational database theory. Finally, in 1973, IBM began the System R program in the San Jose Research Laboratory—now Almaden Research Center—to prove the relational theory with what it called “an industrial-strength implementation.” Although IBM isolated Codd from the project, it still produced an extraordinary output of innovations that became the foundation for IBM’s success with relational databases. IBM stars such as Don Chamberlin, Ray Boyce, Patricia Selinger, and Raymond Lorie all contributed to making the relational database, the Db2 we know and love today, a reality. Finally, 13 years after Codd published his paper, IBM Db2 on z/OS was born, and 10 years after that the first IBM Db2 database for LUW was released.

Our DNA of pioneering the relational database system continues to help organizations differentiate in their respective markets and is recognized in Db2 client satisfaction and today’s success stories. From powering the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program used by 140M+ customers, to enabling AI to assist Via’s riders in 36 million trips per year, Db2 is the tested, resilient, and hybrid database providing the extreme availability, built-in refined security, effortless scalability, and intelligent automation for systems that run the world. Db2’s decades of innovation and expertise running the most demanding transactional, analytical, and operational workloads have culminated today in the 2022 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice distinction for Cloud Database Management Systems.

When we look ahead, that same architectural foundation we have spent decades perfecting and innovating is also bringing Db2 into future. “If we look at our competitors for example, it demonstrates how prevalent the core Db2 foundations have become in the market. Taking massively parallel processing, for example, MPP is and has always been core to Db2 Warehouse and is more relevant today than ever for data lakehouse architecture and a data fabric. We have 30 years of expertise in this technology that competitors are just getting started in.” – Chief Db2 Architect & Distinguished Engineer, Hebert Pereyra.

Whether you need always-on, mainframe-level availability for cloud-native applications, insanely fast ingest for real-time analytics and ML, or a simplified database ecosystem, Db2 is built to evolve with you. To achieve better outcomes, organizations are prioritizing and addressing the key use cases of databases as shown by Db2:

1. Mission Critical Apps 

Db2 is the always-on database built for the systems that run the world.

  • Whether in the cloud, hybrid, or on-premises ensure continuous availability, to keep applications and daily operations running smoothly. IBM Db2 pureScale leverages our parallel sysplex architecture, providing mainframe-class availability for your data.
  • No one knows your data like you do. Let’s keep it that way. Protect your data with in-motion and at-rest encryption, extensive auditing, data masking, row and column access controls, role-based access and more.
  • Free staffing time for value-added activities with intelligent workload automation and built-in container operators to automate time-consuming database tasks, while keeping your business running.

Exxon transforms customer experiences 

Nedbank builds a scalable data warehouse architecture

2. Real-time analytics and ML

Endless data but your queries aren’t fast enough. Empower real-time decision making and perform heavy computational analysis with built-in ML, insanely fast ingest, and querying of data in motion and at rest.

  • Real-time warehousing with continual data ingestion, so analysts can enjoy low-latency analytics
  • Perform heavy-computational analysis and machine learning all within the Db2 database
  • Best-in-class massively parallel processing (MPP) to help you scale out and scale up capabilities as analytical workload demand grows

Via analyzes customer interactions to improve AI assistance 

Norfolk-Southern Corp’s 24/7 insights boost customer satisfaction

3. Anywhere deployment 

You need a database you can deploy in the cloud of your choice, on premises and in a hybrid environment. Deploy a unified enterprise data platform that runs anywhere with Db2.

An integrated multicloud data platform

4. Performance at scale

Scale Db2 up and out as your workloads evolve and your performance needs change. Db2 pureScale’s shared data cluster scale out allows for independent scale of compute and storage, enabling high performance, low-latency transactions.

Marriott improves performance by 90% in the cloud

5. Data security & governance

Take control of your data governance, security and compliance with Db2’s comprehensive, built-in auditing, access control, and data visibility capabilities.

Vektis improves healthcare quality through data

6. Database complexity, simplified

  Store and query more than just traditional structured data with multi-model capabilities. Seamlessly integrate Db2 with your existing data lake to easily query datasets residing in open data formats like Parquet, Avro and more.

Active international unlocks USD 80 million in year-one estimated saving by enabling media optimization

To learn more, visit IBM Db2 and our IBM data management page.