IT Management

Keeping up-to-date with the latest and greatest DB2 versions and functionality can be a time-consuming task. Every 18 to 24 months IBM announces a new version of DB2 with more features and functionality than ever before.

DB2 just celebrated its 20th anniversary. The basis for DB2 began with IBM’s System R research project. In 1982, IBM delivered SQL/DS on VM and VSE, and then a year later, IBM released DB2 for MVS Version 1. Through subsequent versions and releases, IBM has improved DB2.

Keeping Track of New DB2 Versions

Functionality aside, it can be difficult to keep track of new DB2 versions. Questions such as, what version has which feature? Or, how much longer will IBM support the DB2 version we are running? Not to mention, when should we begin to migrate to a new version . . . and which one? These questions are very common in this age of rapid technology change. Let’s examine some of these questions.

First, we need to understand some basic terminology: “withdrawal from marketing” and “withdrawal from service.” When IBM withdraws a product from marketing, the product will no longer be advertised or sold by IBM. However, IBM will continue to service and support customers. When IBM withdraws a product from service, you will no longer be able to get technical support for that product.

The current version of DB2 for z/OS is Version 7 and it has been available for approximately two years. IBM just announced Version 8 in January 2003, though no general availability date has been set as of now. However, that doesn’t really set the stage for DB2 usage in early 2003. Actually, fewer than 50 percent of IBM’s DB2 for z/OS customers worldwide have migrated to Version 7. Indeed, most DB2 users are running either Version 5 or Version 6.

Many of these shops will have to answer the questions, “When should we migrate to another DB2 version, which one, and why?” Well, if you are still running DB2 Version 5, you should consider migrating to Version 6 or 7 fairly soon. DB2 V5 was withdrawn from marketing in June 2002.

Following the Migration Path

Another question users of DB2 V5 must answer is to which version should they migrate. IBM supports migration from V5 directly to either V6 or V7. This is a rare situation where IBM supports jumping an intermediate version. The usual migration path is one DB2 version at a time. However, IBM offers the capability to jump from V5 to V7 if you so choose — this offering was probably driven by the Year/2000 situation where many customers halted all system software changes. This one-time “jump” allows customers to catch up post-Y2K. Of course, customers can move from V5 to V6, too. At this late date, DB2 V5 customers will probably benefit from moving directly to V7 instead of to V6.

Table 1 shows a summary of recent DB2 versions and their service dates. You can always find up-to-date information about DB2 availability on the Website at

Which brings me to DB2 Version 6. Although no end of service date has yet been announced for V6, it stands to reason that it should be in service at least through 2004. In general, DB2 releases have been supported for roughly five years. Since V6 went GA in mid-1999, a reasonable end of service date would be sometime in 2005. Of course, this is all speculation on my part.

At any rate, DB2 V6 users have at least a year before service is discontinued. The reason for this is that IBM commits to provide services until IBM gives the customer a 12-month written notice. The basic IBM practice for z/OS is to issue a semi-annual consolidated announcement of planned service discontinuances. These announcements typically occur in February and August, and since February has come and gone without such an announcement for DB2 V6, the earliest service end for V6 looks like August 2004.

Of course, the bottom line is that more functionality is available to you by keeping up-to-date with the latest DB2 version. However, issues such as rapid versioning, complexity, difficulty of migration, and managing new versions can make keeping up-to-date difficult — not to mention the diligence required to keep everything straight. Z