DB2 LUW To Get MongoDB Hooks–Will DB2/400 Be Next?
June 10, 2013 Alex Woodie
IBM and 10gen, the company behind the open-source MongoDB NoSQL database, announced a partnership last week that will lead to closer integration between MongoDB and DB2 for Linux, Unix, and Windows (LUW), as well as WebSphere middleware. The work will allow developers to build compelling Web and mobile applications on DB2 that utilize NoSQL storage and query concepts. The question for IBM i shops is whether Big Blue sees fit to add the same capabilities to the DB2 for i database that is integrated with the operating system.
IBM is going to support the MongoDB query language and the BSON wire protocol with DB2 and the elastic, in-memory WebSphere eXtreme Scale data grid platform. IBM says it will work with 10gen and others to create “standards” that will allow developers to query JSON documents stored in DB2 for LUW.
This will give applications that were written to run against MongoDB the capability to run against existing DB2 for LUW stores, opening up a vast array of corporate data to the latest Web and mobile applications. IBM says developers will be able to leverage the new standards from their standard Eclipse and Worklight Studio environments (the latter being a tool for mobile app development), and that customers may begin using the new technology by the third quarter of 2013.
“Through its support of MongoDB, IBM is marrying the database world with the new world of mobile app development,” says Jerry Cuomo, chief technology officer for WebSphere and an IBM Fellow. “Now, millions of developers will be able to deliver new, engaging enterprise apps that leverage the vast data resources managed by organizations around the world.”
MongoDB has been adopted by the likes of SourceForge and Craigslist to store and archive vast archives of Web documents. SAP also uses MongoDB for its Java platform as a service (PaaS) offering. Google uses a NoSQL backend (not MongoDB) for its Google App Engine (GAE) platform as a service PaaS cloud offering, too, and other cloud providers have similar NoSQL data stores.
Hooking up with MongoDB is undeniably a smart move for IBM, which trails Oracle 11g and MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL in the database race, and is only two places ahead of seventh-place MongoDB on the DB-Engines Ranking.
The question for IBM i shops is whether IBM is planning to extend the standards work it is undertaking with 10gen and MongoDB to DB2 for i, or DB2/400 as it is still colloquially known. An IBM spokesperson said the company “may consider this capability for additional platforms, but have nothing to announce at this time.”
DB2 for i shares some components with DB2 for LUW, as well as with DB2 for z/OS, the implementation for IBM’s System z mainframe. It is unclear how much additional work it would take to support the BSON line protocol and the MongoDB query language in DB2 for i.
There is definitely a precedent to expanding DB2 for i to support additional databases, and it is called MySQL. Way back in 2007IBM worked with MySQL to support the open source database on the System i server, and to enabling DB2/400 to function as one of the storage engines for MySQL. This work has been stymied a bit by Oracle, which acquired MySQL via Sun Microsystems in 2010, and subsequently dropped support for running MySQL on IBM i less than a year later.
The IBM i version of MySQL lives on as DBi, a project managed by PHP backer Zend Technologies. Because so many PHP apps were written to use MySQL, keeping a version of MySQL running on the IBM i platform was deemed important enough to undertake the project. Zend’s DBi, which became available a year ago, is managed through a partnership with Percona.
The success that Zend and IBM have had with running PHP/MySQL apps on the IBM i server shows that there is demand among IBM i shops for an alternative to the traditional stack of applications written in RPG and COBOL (and Java to a lesser extent) and storing relational data in the straight-laced DB2 for i. The Web and mobile development worlds are evolving quickly, and NoSQL databases like MongoDB are important components of those worlds.
The IBM i platform could use the injection of new blood that a MongoDB hook could bring. Consider that DB2/400 and DB2 for i are not even listed among the 170-plus data stores listed on DB-Engines. (For what it’s worth, DB2 for z/OS isn’t either.)