I’m in a very perplexing situation: IBM DB2 9.7 or Oracle 11.2?

In DB2 database, DBA, Oracle database on September 1, 2011 at 07:28

Unlike Owen Wilson’s perplexing situation between the past and the present in Midnight in Paris, mine is in the present only: two current releases of two database brands: IBM DB2 9.7 and Oracle 11.2.

Which one is easier to administer? DB2 9.7 or Oracle 11.2? Which one saves more time and has higher total cost of ownership? Perplexing situation! But why?

In a 29 page article from October 2010, called Comparing DBA Productivity: An Oracle/DB2 Task Complexity Analysis, Triton Consulting (an IBM Premier Business Partner) “proved” that the advantages of DB2 9.7 over Oracle 11.2 are more than 50%:

In a 51 page article from June 2011, called Database Manageability and Productivity Cost Comparison Study: Oracle Database 11g Release 2 vs IBM DB2 Enterprise 9.7, ORC International “proved” that the advantage of Oracle 11.2 over DB2 9.7 are the following:

– Oracle Database 11g reduces required DBA time by 43 percent compared to IBM DB2
– Oracle is 45% less complex and easier to manage
– By using Oracle instead of DB2, businesses can save US$51,600 per DBA per year

What is going on? One tells us that IBM DB2 is easier to manage than Oracle, another one tells us exactly the opposite.

Obviously, comparing Oracle to DB2 is not as straightforward as comparing ArchiCAD to NotePad?

Let us consider the backup and recovery scenario from both studies. The pro-IBM one claims that the DB2 advantage is 83%. The pro-Oracle one says that the IBM process requires 65% more time and 51% more steps. Those who have spent years of really backing up and restoring databases know very well that there are dozens of factors that influence on the process. Giving figures for average time is simple going out of proportions.

Getting realistic and keeping low profile on the marketing aspect, most of us know that all is up to the people who do the work: the DBAs. There are DBAs that can install/patch the Oracle software and create/upgrade a database in less than 2 hours; there are DBAs who will struggle may be 2 days before asking for help.

What is complex for a certain DBA might be trivial for another. Bottom line is that education, work experience and knowledge are what matter when DBA work is done.

Look at the following screen captured from the video New Approaches for Database Cost Savings by Forrester’s Noel Yuhanna:

The efforts required according to the last column are low. And this might eventually bring cost savings due to increased DBA productivity. Questions is whose efforts are we talking about? It is all up to the people, their skills and knowledge.

In my opinion, when database features are compared, what matters is what is automated and what the DBA is not required to do instead of the time required for the work. And here features like the Automatic Database Diagnostic Monitor, Tuning Advisors, Real Application Testing make the difference! Namely, the self management capabilities of the RDBMS.

Comparing things on a general level (even with detailed figure estimations) might give us somewhat picture about what’s going on but crunching numbers in the database industry might not always bring us the same results. The two contradictory articles mentioned about seem to show us this perplexing situation.

  1. This reminds me of the situation (happened to me a few times), when I’ve been asked
    “We are going to run Oracle. Please advise should we go for Oracle on Windows or Linux”
    For me the answer is very easy – If you have Windows knowledge in-house, run it on Windows. If you know Linux better – run it on Linux then.
    Oracle is stable on both platforms, has bugs on both platforms. There are comparisons favoring any of the operating systems. So it is up to the people, that are going to support it.

  2. Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really useful & it helped me
    out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid others
    like you aided me.

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