IBM has recently unveiled its latest database enhancement with DB2 9, which features native XML support, higher data compression capabilities and automated management functions. According to the company, the developments in DB2 9 represent the company\u2019s most significant database technology enhancements in two decades. IBM has developed what it calls "pureXML" technology in DB2 9 to help companies create a consolidated view of all XML data regardless of format, platform or location. This has been possible before, but to allow conventional relational databases to read XML data, database administrators had to do some extensive coding and reconfiguring of data before it could be read by the database, noted Alan Chan, sales manager, information management, software group at IBM China\/Hong Kong. With native support of XML provided by IBM\u2019s pureXML technology, database administrators do not need to manually bolt on XML capabilities to their systems to enable easy management of XML data, according to IBM. A key differentiator, according to Samson Tai, senior IT architect with the\u00a0betaworks group at\u00a0IBM China\/Hong Kong, is that while other vendors use hybrid systems to store XML data as binary large objects or as parsed relational data, DB2 9 can store data as an XML file with all its properties intact. "This will allow administrators to pull and extract XML data with traditional tools from any database source," said Tai. Test Drives Key customers in the region are already testing and evaluating the latest technology, with Kingdee Software from China, China Financial Computerization Corporation and China Merchants Bank all conducting "proof of technology" tests. Kingdee has been testing DB2 9 with its Enterprise Application Suite with a focus on the new compression capabilities. According to IBM\u2019s Chan, the new compression features will enable users to tap into mainframe-like storage compression performance, which can help companies facing the constant need to add storage to cope with growth. Kingdee\u2019 tests have revealed that\u00a0more than\u00a050 percent of the storage capacity for the majority of tables can be saved, said Lin Feng, vice president of Kingdee Software. "We were even more pleased when we found out that DB2 9\u2019s compression capability helped us process database queries on average 20 percent faster than before," he added. DB2 9 also features new automated management features that will help administrators and independent software vendors. IBM calls this autonomic storage management, which enables automatic tuning of the database to various environments, software applications and platforms. Chan noted that often users complain of lower performance than expected when new applications are implemented. This is not always an application problem, but could require some tuning of the database to optimize performance. DB2 9 provides automated tuning and management of the configuration to maximize application and overall system performance, noted Chan.-Chee Sing Chan, Computerworld Hong KongRelated Links:\n\nIBM-Led Group Tapped for Military RFID Research\n\nIndia Revamps National Portal With Aid from IBM\n\nIBM Taps Partners to Tout Revamped Sametime\n\nIBM Ships \u2018Broadway\u2019 Chips for Nintendo WiiCheck out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.