BMC offers Web-based tools for DB2 UDB

BMC Software Inc. on Monday announced the first members of a new family of Web-based management tools for IBM Corp.'s DB2 Universal Database (DB2 UDB).

Called Smart DBA, the tools will be available for DB2 on Unix and Microsoft Corp. Windows NT and can be accessed by a database administrator (DBA) from a Web browser, BMC officials said. They include DBXray, a diagnostic product for boosting database performance, Space Expert, which helps identify parts of a database that need to be reorganized, and SQL-Explorer, for tuning SQL code.

The tools are accessed through the Smart DBA Cockpit, a Web-based interface also announced Monday that provides a single point of access for the tools. BMC's goal is to eventually provide tools for managing databases from multiple vendors and across multiple platforms that can all be accessed through the same interface, said Gene Austin, a BMC vice president and general manager.

"Customers tell us that being able to manage heterogeneous database environments and keep up with the growth of data throughout their organization is a huge deal," he said.

The company's Oracle Corp. database tools, which were launched last year, can also be accessed through the Smart DBA Cockpit, Austin said. New tools for managing Microsoft's SQL Server database are planned for the second half of the year, and in the longer term BMC plans to make even its DB2 mainframe tools accessible through the Smart DBA Cockpit, he said.

At least one BMC user looked forward to that day.

"I'm a multiplatform guy; I work on the mainframe and on the client/server side, so for me one interface for all the tools would be very good," said Don Sperling, a senior DBA with Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. Inc. in Atlanta.

However, BMC's mainframe tools are superior to its products for Unix and Windows databases, he said, and he'd be reluctant to see BMC do anything that might compromise its mainframe products. "It would be good to have them integrated, but I'd want to know what the effect would be performance-wise (on the mainframe tools)," he said.

The Smart DBA tools can be configured to integrate with BMC's Patrol enterprise management system, but can also work independently of it, BMC officials said. The Oracle tools released last year were released under the Patrol brand, but the name has now been dropped to make it clearer to customers that the tools don't have to be used as part of the broader Patrol offering.

Smart DBA is intended to help BMC compete more effectively against rivals such as Quest Software Inc., as well as management tools from IBM and Oracle. Not surprisingly, BMC claims to be in a leading position. IBM and Oracle each can serve its own customers but won't offer tools that span both platforms in the same way that BMC can, Austin said. Meanwhile, Quest doesn't have the breadth of mainframe products that BMC does, he argued.

Quest recently consolidated its Oracle tools into a unified platform called Quest Central for Oracle. It has started developing a similar offering for mainframe users.

The SmartDBA Cockpit for DB2 UDB will be available worldwide via a free download in mid-March. DBXray will be available at the same time, starting at US$2,499 per user. Space Expert is due in early April at a starting price of $1,650 for the Windows NT version and $3,200 for the Unix version. SQL Explorer is due in the second quarter, starting at $750 per client, $1,640 per workgroup server and $8,500 per departmental server, BMC said.

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