IBM may open source DB2

IBM may open source DB2

Summary: The computing company could bring out its database software under an open-source licence


IBM is positive about the possibility of bringing out its DB2 database-management software under an open-source licence.

While the computing giant has no immediate plans to open-source DB2, market conditions may make it unavoidable, according to Chris Livesey, IBM's UK director of information management software.

"We have a light version of the product offered for free, which is a step towards exposing our core [DB2] technology," said Livesey. "Looking at IBM's heritage in contributing to the open-source market, we've been particularly keen to lead that market. Open source is an interesting space as a whole. As the future unfolds and the economics become clearer, there's going to be more commitment to open source by everybody. We've made good steps towards that."

DB2 is widely used in IBM products globally. Livesey said that next steps for the 25-year-old product include improving the interaction capabilities between DB2 and business intelligence (BI) products so queries can be managed in one place.

"People with detailed queries currently extract the data [from DB2 databases] to use with BI," said Livesey. "They don't do it in the database itself because the [performance of the] database would be hit very hard."

Customers increasingly have the desire to look for business analytics in one place and in real-time, said Livesey, which meant IBM had had to focus on maintaining the speed of DB2 transactions while enabling complex queries in the same environment.

Current challenges faced by IT professionals tasked with managing data include the size and scale of data stores, said Livesey.

"There's a huge data explosion which is increasing by orders of magnitude each year, which is having a major impact on storage and the guardians of data," said Livesey. "Look at the amount of information produced on the planet, and the number of people trying to access it. We don't know when things are going to fall over."

As a consequence, Livesey said that IBM was also researching data compression technology, and privacy and security measures to safeguard data.

Topic: Apps

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • Bringing clarity to Open Source DB2

    Not sure if Chris Livesley was misquoted. DB2 Express-C, the free DBMS, is not "light" database at least not if "light" is the description of the function. DB2 Express-C ( is "full function" product that is offered using the "open source business model" but it is not open source.
    On the "light" point ... DB2 Express-C has ALL of the function of the other DB2 editions. Actually it includes some additional functions such as pureXML and all of it absolutely free. Also, it is free not just for development or use internally but DB2 Express-C can be included in commercial products at no charge.
    On the subject of "open source". DB2 is not open source and many of our customers appreciate this fact because their procurement processes prevent them from acquiring open source products due to intellectual property concerns. The other often voiced concern is lack of a "single throat to choke" i.e. commercially available support. This is why DB2 Express-C implements "open source business model" i.e. while the product is free it is available with optional low cost support that is delivered by IBM (not third parties). The cost of this optional support is the same as what MySQL charges for a similar offering ($2995/server/year). More information at

    Leon Katsnelson
    Program Director, IBM Data Management