International Business Machines (IBM) has launched a shot across the bow of Microsoft Corporation and Oracle Corporation with the release of DB2 Universal Database 7.1, the company's latest database server. IBM DB2 7.1 is designed for business-to-business (B2B) and e-commerce solutions, and the company claims that it can perform Internet searches more than 10 times faster than traditional relational database engines. This latest version of DB2 also features in-memory database technology, XML integration, warehousing and data analysis features, and support for industry standard SQL Stored Procedures that will ease migration from competing databases.

"Business optimization requires the free flow of information across corporations, from customers, through the supply chain, and back through to the customer," says Janet Perna, the general manager of IBM Data Management Solutions. "Companies best able to intelligently exploit their information assets to drive top-line performance while improving operational efficiencies will be the winners. Over the last two years, companies around the world have chosen the scalability and reliability of DB2 Universal Database as the foundation for their e-business data infrastructure."

To attract the application service providers and Dot Com companies that IBM is targeting with this release, the company has revised its pricing structure dramatically. One optional pricing scheme calls for IBM to simply take a percentage of the revenue that is generated by a company using its database to provide e-commerce transactions. This will help Web startups to get going on DB2 development with minimal up-front costs.

A beta release of IBM DB2 7.1 is now available from the IBM Web site (http://www-4.ibm.com/software/data/db2/udb/v7/beta/). The company says that the product will be generally available for IBM AIX, Sun Solaris, HP-UX, Linux, Microsoft Windows NT, Microsoft Windows 2000, and IBM OS/2 by mid-year