IBM has begun shipping its long-awaited DB2 version 8 database management software for Linux, AIX (Unix) and Windows.
Big Blue said it has added some 440 new facilities, including self-configuring and self-managing.
Angus Falconer, IBM's EMEA data management marketing manager, said the features could improve fivefold a database administrator's productivity.
"This release moves us into a position where we can spread resources across platforms, with the databases managing themselves.
"In three to five years Grid computing will be widespread, but even now cost pressures make this attractive," said Falconer.
Other features include easier customisation to meet specific application needs, additional inbuilt business intelligence, and higher reliability and availability.
IBM's work on information integration, including providing new DB2 connectors, meant DB2 could be used as a central repository for shared information.
For instance, IBM's eServer iSeries, which supports OS/400, Linux and Windows partitions and is due to add AIX support in 2004, can share access to a single DB2 database between partitions.
"IBM has probably spent more time testing than any database manufacturer," said Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research. "It's certainly something it wanted to launch properly."
According to IBM, 85 per cent of users intend to upgrade immediately to v8.
But Lock expressed doubts that many companies would switch immediately.
"The big bang won't happen. IBM may have a new definition of 'immediate', but DB2 is a very, very important piece of kit and companies have to do the fundamentals of change management," he said.
IBM has also simplified its pricing model. DB2 Workgroup Server Unlimited Edition, aimed at mid-sized companies, will cost $7,500 (£4,750) per processor in the US while DB2 Enterprise Server Edition, including data warehousing, advanced clustering and 64bit addressability, will cost $25,000 (£15,900).
UK pricing is not yet available.
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