Since their development in the 1960’s, Relational Database Management
Systems (RDBMS) have been used to manage information. Over time RDBMSs have
evolved from software that ran on a mainframe computer and was used to manage
tabular data, such as names and address, into highly integrated systems that
can manage and analyze any form of digital data and run on any hardware/operating
system platform, even hand held devices.
The explosion of the World Wide Web as an E-commerce interface and overall information provider could not have occurred without RDBMS providing back-end data management, and Web Application Servers to provide the interface between the RDBMS and the end user. Web Application Servers are computer software that use a programming language that understands HTML tags, provide programming operators such as IF/THEN statements, and allow the embedding of SQL (Standard Query Language) statements. SQL is the industry standard RDBMS interfacing language and is required to retrieve and update the RDBMS. The result of this combination of features allows business transactions and the creation of dynamic Web pages whose content changes based on user input.
The Academic Services and Emerging Technologies (ASET) group is pleased to provide RDBMS and dynamic Web Application Server services for teaching and research purposes to the Penn State community. As part of the IBM Scholars Data Management Program, ASET is able to provide IBM’s DB2 RDBMSs free of charge for teaching and research use. DB2 is an industry leading RDBMS with a wide variety of tools for data management and analysis. Students and Faculty may directly register for the Data Scholars Program to obtain their own copies of software and news updates, get involved with data management certification classes and get help with “teaching the teachers” about DB2 (http://www.ibm.com/software/info/university).
ASET is also providing several Web Application Servers. At this time ASET is providing SUN[tm] ONE Active Server Pages (http://www.sun.com/software/chilisoft), PHP (http://www.php.net/), PERL (http://www.cpan.org/), and the APACHE TOMCAT JSP Servlet Engine (http://java.sun.com/products/jsp). Each of these Application Servers are free or nominally priced, are compatible with the APACHE Web server engine, are compatible with DB2 and are widely used in industry. This software configuration will provide a secure, stable, scalable environment for teaching and research. The service will be flexible in that users will be able to connect to their database using any of the Application Servers. The service will utilize the Penn State DCE/DFS computing environment which provides a secure environment for the transmission of sensitive information.
To acquire these services users must apply for a database account at http://aset.psu.edu/accounts/db2.html. After completing the application, a database will be created for the user or users and they will be sent an e-mail describing how to get started. In some situations it may be necessary to sit down with a prospective user and plan for the intended use of the database. For large database applications, the initial planning of table definitions, tablespace management and memory management are crucial to database performance. Users must work with a DB2 client to access their database. The client will either be downloaded from the Penn State PASS server or a UNIX client is available by using a secure telnet connection to log into rs6klab.aset.psu.edu.