Introduction to Db2: Definition, Features, and More

Written by Coursera Staff • 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 the 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 to 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 [6]. Around 62.5 per cent 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 and the language used to query relational databases SQL.

Careers that use Db2

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

  • 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 and provide troubleshooting, recovery, and security management support.

  • Data architects analyze an organization's data infrastructure to execute database management systems that improve workflow efficiency for specific departments.

  • 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.

Get started with Coursera

You can start your career as a data warehouse engineer today. Earn a Professional Certificate with IBM’s Data Warehouse Engineering in eight months or less. You’ll be ready for an entry-level position in business intelligence (BI) engineering or data warehousing.

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