While the computing giant has no immediate plans to open-source DB2, market conditions may make it unavoidable, according to Chris Livesey, IBM's U.K. 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 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," Livesey said. "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 means that IBM 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, Livesey said.
"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," Livesey said.
"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 IBM was also researching data compression technology, and privacy and security measures to safeguard data.
Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.