Introduction to Db2: Definition, Features, and How to Get Started

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Database 2 (Db2) is a collection of data management products to help users handle big data. Here’s what you need to know.

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With data science and data engineering at the forefront of the era of technology, it can be surprising to hear that some products have been around since the 1980s. One of those products is Database 2 (Db2), which IBM first introduced in 1983 on one of its main platforms [1].

As a relational database, Db2 is still in use. While other database management systems have emerged, older institutions and industries continue to store their data on Db2. It also continues to release new versions. 

In this article, you’ll learn all about Db2: what it is, how it works, and who uses it.

What is Db2?

Db2 is a family of data management products developed by IBM, including the relational database management system (RDBMS) first introduced in 1983 on its Multiple Virtual Storage (MVS) mainframe. The "2" in Database 2 refers to IBM's second family of database management software, which shifted from a hierarchical to a relational database model. [1, 2].

Originally used exclusively for IBM’s platforms, Db2 was made available for most operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and more [2]. Db2 is available for both on-premise and cloud storage, making it a flexible and accessible RDBMS.

In terms of popularity as a database management system, IBM’s Db2 ranked seventh in 2022, after Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and Redis [3]. This ranking methodology is based on factors like number of mentions on websites (hits on Google or Bing), interest in the system (Google Trends), and more [4].

Features of Db2

All of the Db2 tools have the following features [5].

  • AI-powered functionality: Users can employ artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify the querying process.

    • Machine learning algorithms improve performance and efficiency.

    • Column store directs queries to specific columns, ultimately reducing overhead and employee workload.

    • Data skipping automatically overlooks data that shouldn’t be included in a query.

  • Common SQL engine: A query may be written once and used across products and platforms.

  • Can support all data types: Structured, unstructured, and relational data can all be accessed on one platform.

  • High availability and disaster recovery: Db2 replication functionality allows for safe storage and access.

  • Scalability: Users can extend local storage and power levels onto cloud environments, and also scale storage and power in a managed cloud to save money.

  • Table partitioning: In a Db2 warehouse, the database partitioning feature allows users to split data across servers to maximize computing power and allow parallel processing.

Db2 products

These products are part of the Db2 catalog, a range that can be used on-premises or in the cloud [5].

  • Db2 Database: A powerful local (on-premises) RDBMS that is optimized for use with online transaction processing (OLTP). It is enterprise-ready and provides high performance and resilience.

  • Db2 Warehouse: An on-premises data warehouse that can handle machine learning, data analytics, and parallel processing.

  • Db2 on Cloud: A cloud-based SQL database similar to Db2 Database.

  • Db2 Warehouse on Cloud: A fully managed cloud-based and on-premises data warehouse similar to Db2 Warehouse.

  • Db2 Big SQL: A SQL-on-Hadoop engine that provides parallel processing and querying functionality. It can be integrated with Cloudera Data Platform.

  • Db2 Event Store: A memory-optimized database that can analyze streamed data for event-driven applications. It includes IBM Watson Studio, so users can integrate machine learning models.

  • Db2 for z/OS: An enterprise data server for IBM Z that provides a mission-critical data solution and integration for mobile and cloud to support thousands of users.

Who uses Db2?

There are two sides of this question. First, we’ll address the organizations that use Db2 to power their mainframe platforms, followed by those who use Db2 in their careers.

Examples of Db2

Organizations that use an IBM server tend to use Db2. The industries that typically use Db2 include banking and financial services, insurance, manufacturing, and automotive industries [6]. Around 62.5 percent of these companies are large, with over 10,000 employees [6].

Many of our everyday transactions use relational databases to store and retrieve important data for banking, manufacturing, and retail, such as paying with a credit card, accessing our bank accounts, buying products or services online, and more [1]. Relational databases spurred IBM to create the Db2 product line as well as the language used to query relational databases SQL.

Careers that use Db2

  1. Database administrators install, develop, test, and maintain databases for companies. They ensure optimal performance by performing backups, data migrations, and load balancing.

  2. Data engineers design and build systems for collecting and analyzing data. They typically use SQL to query relational databases like Db2 to manage the data, as well as provide troubleshooting, recovery, and security management support.

  3. Data architects analyze the data infrastructure of an organization to execute database management systems that improve efficiency in workflows for specific departments.

  4. Systems programmers help to install, configure, maintain, and monitor Db2 for an organization’s mainframe operating system. They might be hired on a contract or as-needed basis.

Advance your career with Db2

Are you interested in starting a career in data warehousing or business intelligence (BI)? Consider gaining the skills you need to excel in an entry-level role with an industry leader like IBM. IBM's Data Warehouse Engineering Professional Certificate program is a self-paced, 100-percent online course. You'll earn a Professional Certificate for your resume from IBM upon completion.


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Relational Database (RDBMS), Business Intelligence (BI), Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW), SQL, Extract Transform Load (ETL), Data Science, Database (DBMS), NoSQL, Database (DB) Design, Database Architecture, Postgresql, MySQL, Relational Database Management System (RDBMS), Cloud Databases, Python Programming, Jupyter notebooks, Shell Script, Bash (Unix Shell), Linux, Database Servers, Relational Database, Database Security, database administration, Extraction, Transformation And Loading (ETL), Apache Kafka, Apache Airflow, Data Pipelines, Data Warehousing, Cube and Rollup, Star and Snowflake Schema, cognos analytics

You can also learn how to work with Db2 while gaining hands-on experience in IBM's online course, Introduction to Relational Databases (RDBMS). You'll learn the essential concepts behind relational databases and relational database management systems while working with industry-standard tools like IBM DB2, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.



Introduction to Relational Databases (RDBMS)

Are you ready to dive into the world of data engineering? You’ll need a solid understanding of how data is stored, processed, and accessed. You’ll need to ...


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Database (DB) Design, Database Architecture, Postgresql, MySQL, Relational Database Management System (RDBMS)

Article sources


IBM. “Relational Database,” Accessed February 15, 2023.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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