Comparing Apples to Apples - Oracle vs. Db2

by / January, 2018 / Published in Oracle DBA Tips

oracle vs db2


In the realm of database management solutions, there are few options as popular and capable as Oracle Database. Capable of performing both OLTP and OLAP transactions, Oracle is considered by many to be the cornerstone of RDBMS, or Rational Database Management System, solutions.

While the popularity of Oracle Database makes it a common choice for enterprises across many industries, it’s not the only option. Although first conceived in the 1970s by IBM San Jose Research Center, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that Db2, or IBM Database 2, was released as the exclusive DBMS for IBM mainframes.

Over the past several decades, Db2 has evolved into a suite of database management solutions. While its capabilities continue to grow, how does Db2 compare in terms of scalability and performance with the market-leading DBMS, Oracle? Let’s briefly dive into the differences, weaknesses, and architecture of these two capable DBMS solutions.

Safeguarding Data - Security Architecture in Db2 and Oracle::

Database security is among the most crucial elements for today’s businesses. With cyber attacks becoming more commonplace, any vulnerability in database infrastructure is easily isolated and manipulated. Perhaps the most noteworthy security vulnerability within Db2 is the placement of security measures. Unlike Oracle, which delivers security features within the actual database, Db2 places defense measures outside of the actual database architecture.

Because Db2 is a collection of three distinct code bases (Unix/NT/Linux, AS/400, and OS/390), the separate products create a multitude of subversion possibilities. However, Oracle delivers a singular operating product, which simplifies and streamlines security measures.

Product separation in Db2 proves slightly more complex. For example, Db2-operated mainframe utilizes Resource Access Control Facility or RACF, but it's unable to run the same access control on Unix/NT/Linux unless the applications are re-coded. In some instances, additional products may be required to fully safeguard the entire database architecture.

For this reason, Oracle is generally the preferred DBMS for security-centric operations. Its architecture methodology is unified across all operating systems, which streamlines security and minimizes vulnerabilities.

Performance Comparisons Between Oracle and IBM Db2::

For many, pitting Db2 against Oracle is an apples-to-apples comparison. Both DBMS solutions offer enhanced performance capabilities. However, they obviously aren't the same in terms of performance. So, which is better? To answer this question, it's important to analyze how each platform optimizes data.

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Since its conception, Db2 regularly outperforms Oracle via dynamic optimizer influence. Data optimization within Db2 is done in many ways. These include query optimization classes, subcommands, registry variables and optimizer guidelines. Although Oracle continually updates its optimization standards, its basic influencer rules primarily deal with environmental variables and hints.

What about bitmap indexing? Oracle requires database administrators to determine, build and maintain each indexing rule, which remains static, Db2 utilizes dynamic bitmap indexing. The indexing engine automatically determines when rules should be created and automatically builds them as needed. The biggest difference between the two is Db2 removes the need for administrator intervention and maintenance.

Table space buffer pools between Oracle and Db2 are strikingly different. Oracle memory allocation is separated only by objects with identical block size. On the other hand, Db2 provides every tablespace with its own dedicated memory area. In many cases, this offers greater flexibility in terms of memory allocation. The Db2 optimizer uses TRANSFER RATE and OVERHEAD when determining tablespace.

Final Thoughts - Is Db2 a Better Choice than Oracle?::

Ultimately, Oracle and Db2 are excellent products capable of supporting established and growing businesses. While Db2 delivers a host of benefits, the same is true for Oracle. So, how does an enterprise determine the best DBMS solution? The only way to make the deciding factor is to understand the needs and unique characteristics of your database and compare these to the various offerings found in both Oracle and IBM Db2.

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