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Rocket U2: The Big Picture

Gain a basic understanding of the Rocket U2 product line, and gather information about the extended relational data model, architecture, benefits, and associated tools products.

An inside look at U2

Level: Intermediate

Jackie Burhans (, Director of U2 Partner Enablement, Rocket Software

Updated: 15 June 2011


Rocket U2 UniData® and UniVerse® (U2) databases provide cost-effective and robust databases for embedding in vertical applications that need to support extended data structures. The U2 extended relational or MultiValue (MV) model uses three-dimensional tables that consolidate data within a single record. The record is represented as a dynamic array. An integrated development language provides world-class string handling constructs to quickly traverse the record structure. All, or a subset of the data, can be pulled with a simple query and a single I/O, eliminating excessive disk reads. This provides a much simpler, intuitive and highly efficient data storage with fewer tables to administer.

Rocket U2 Extended RDBMS architecture

The Rocket U2 databases support both a pure relational, and a nested relational model or non-first normal form (NF2) model simultaneously. They can therefore support the simple to complex data structures demanded by todays business applications. For example, the Rocket U2 nested relational databases are ideally suited to represent the complex data structures of banking transactions, work orders, and point of sale systems.

The Rocket U2 databases are fully variable length, which provides smaller columns, rows and tables. This results in faster data access and considerably less administration. In addition, Rocket U2 tables have the unique ability to grow and shrink as needed without the need for a DBA to take the tables off line for maintenance. The Rocket U2 extended RDBMS, stores data as strings, which provides the developer with an extremely powerful and flexible tool called the "dynamic array". It is the strength of this dynamic array concept that makes the building of complex and high performance business applications found in institutions today such as libraries, hospitals, manufacturing, distribution, etc., possible.

As an example, lets look at electronically storing the information found on a simple Rolodex card index.

Figure 1. Extended Relational view of the simple Rolodex™ card information:
ID Company Contact Phone
1111 Amoco Jim Smith 713-555-1212
Bob Brown 713-267-1471
1112 GTE Joe Smith 214-453-1444
1113 HMO Peggy Smith 303-766-9999
1114 Kraft Bill Jones 708-499-7666
Key:            Customer_ID
Col1:           Company
Col2:           Contact (multiple values)
Col3:           Phone (multiple values, associated with Contact)
Jim Smith}Bob Brown
NAME           PHONE
Jim Smith   713-555-1212
Bob Brown   713-267-1471

Traditional relational product architecture

Traditional relational databases, for the most part, store data as simple rows and columns, much like a spreadsheet. To compare a traditional RDBMS with the Rocket U2 extended RDBMS, consider the Rolodex™ example from the previous section. A fully normalized view of the same information would look as follows:

Figure 2. company_contact
1111 c11
1111 c12
1112 c13
1113 c14
1114 c15
Figure 3. contact_phone
c11 p1
c12 p2
c13 p3
c14 p4
c15 p5
Figure 4. phone_number
p1 713-555-1212
p2 713-479-4444
p3 713-267-1471
p4 214-453-1444
p5 303-766-9999
p6 708-499-7666
Figure 5. company
1111 Amoco
1112 GTE
1113 HMO
1114 Kraft
Figure 6. contact
c11 Jim Smith
c12 Bob Bro
c13 Joe Smith
c14 Peggy Smith
c15 Bill Jones
company_contact (Company_ID,Contact_ID)
contact_phone (Contact_ID, PhoneID)
phone_number (Phone_ID, Phone_Number)
company (Company_ID, Company_Name)
contact (Contact_ID, Contact_Name)
Jim Smith      713-555-1212
Jim Smith      713-479-4444
Bob Brown      713-267-1471

Product performance

The extended relational database allows data to be stored in a "business" view with very few tables required, resulting in more data accessed with logical read operation. RDBMS developers must "normalize" the data, which typically results in a greater number of tables required to represent the same "business" view. More tables require more reads, which results in slower application performance. The slowest operation of a computer system is the movement of the disk I/O head(s) to read and write data. To mitigate this, 1NF developers often design a fully normalized database but then de-normalize for performance. The latest versions of 1NF databases often support a single "nested table" implemented as a view. U2 databases allow an unlimited number of multi-value fields or "nested tables".

Extended RDBMS characteristics

In our experience, applications developed using the extended relational database are far less difficult to build, and are easier to understand conceptually than those built using a traditional RDBMS (cf. Rolodex™ card example). Typically, developers using the Rocket U2 extended RDBMS as the foundation of their application can easily transfer the business model (banking transaction, point of sale, etc) directly into extended relational table(s). This allows for rapid application development, maintenance and customization. Traditional RDBMS developers must first transform the business model into a normalized set of tables. Using the Rocket U2 extended relational database, the developer is not required to have knowledge of SQL, and the more complex C programming language. However, both styles of development are supported, if required.

For server-based application logic, the Rocket U2 extended relational database uses BASIC for its stored procedure language. Thus, adopting the use of the Rocket U2 extended relational database technology is straightforward and does not require an Engineer level programmer to either understand the database, or develop the applications. On the client-side, the Rocket U2 extended relational database supports industry standard tools such as Microsoft® Visual Studio, Studio and WebSphere® Application Developer, via JDBC, ODBC, OLE DB provider, and native C, Java™ and .NET APIs. Most client tools today support one or more of these technologies.

The extended relational database uses the predominant standards associated with UNIX®, Linux™ and Windows™-based systems for its networking layer. The Rocket U2 extended RDBMS provides homogeneous distributed database capabilities. Additionally, using its database gateway interface (BCI), it can update heterogeneous databases such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, etc. using standard ODBC interfaces. The latest releases of UniData and UniVerse provide a tightly coupled I/O level interface to Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and IBM DB2® UDB via its External Database Access (EDA) technology.

Rocket U2 supports row level locking facilities, either through implicit SQL usage, or through explicit control from within its stored procedure language. Page level locks, common to other RDBMS products, do not hamper the Rocket U2 extended RDBMS. It provides many levels of lock granularity. Within this same environment, the Rocket U2 extended RDBMS implements all ANSI 1992 Isolation levels, for ACID-compliant transaction processing. Due to its lock granularity, the Rocket U2 extended relational database can support very large database installations, with high accessibility, data integrity, and large numbers of concurrent users.

The extended RDBMS files (tables) have an automatic table space allocation capability, which dynamically adjusts for optimal size, and hence performance, without fragmentation. Each file can grow to a size dictated by the available operating file system. Coupled with its inherently self tuning architecture, and low memory requirement, extended relational databases do not require intensive monitoring, continual tuning and time consuming maintenance tasks.

The extended RDBMS provides all the industry standard capabilities for database integrity, including transaction logging, warm-start recovery and check pointing. These features prevent database corruption from occurring in the event of a hardware failure. In addition, the Rocket U2 extended RDBMS works with all levels of RAID disk arrays to provide additional database robustness.


Associated U2 tools products

U2 DataVu

U2 DataVu offers a comprehensive query, reporting and data visualization platform for desktop or web-based environments. With over 100 built-in analytical functions, U2 DataVu allows you to derive maximum value from your data and rapidly build and distribute comprehensive reporting and data visualization solutions across your enterprise.



SystemBuilder Extensible Architecture

SystemBuilder Extensible Architecture (SB/XA) is a Rapid Application Development (RAD) tool for the Rocket U2 databases, providing a structured process-based environment in which to create and maintain enterprise applications.

U2 Web Development Environment

U2 Web Development Environment (U2 Web DE) is Rocket U2's scalable object-based infrastructure for the U2 databases that includes an object-abstraction tool, allowing for development within a variety of technologies such as Java and ASP/JSP.




wIntegrate is an advanced terminal emulation and host-based application enhancement tool for MultiValue databases, including Rocket's UniData and UniVerse databases.


Business benefits of U2

  • Quick return on investment; exceptional price and performance ratio
  • Lower total cost of ownership, with less administration and disk storage requirements
  • High performance and efficient use of resources
  • Highly scalable from single-user development to enterprise-class platforms
  • Best-of-breed native tools for application renovation and development, interactive reporting, business intelligence, e-commerce, and mobile device access
  • Rapid and flexible application design and modification


Technical benefits of U2

  • Supports extended relational model allowing developers to quickly model and easily modify their database design to fit their business needs via multi-valued and multi-subvalued fields and associations
  • Can use dynamic files to ensure maximum performance
  • Support for standards-based open interfaces such as Web Services, XML, JDBC, .NET, C, HTTP, Java, Sockets, ODBC and OLEDB
  • Enables secure end-to-end authentication and encrypted communications using open standards
  • Supports both record set and direct I/O access for high performance


The Rocket U2 extended relational databases provide all of the characteristics needed for advanced application development and data management. Geared specifically toward the embedded database market, the extended relational architecture provides a business-oriented data model that is ideal for support of vertical industry solutions that require flexibility and scalability. The extended RDBMS is the right technology for the right solution in the right environment.

By reducing the complexity, providing industry standard capabilities and self-maintaining features, the extended RDBMS is the ideal embedded database solution with unprecedented low total cost of ownership.



About the author 


Jackie BurhansJackie Burhans has responsibility for the U2  Product Management team, U2 Training and Partner Enablement.  Jackie joined Unidata in 1992 and previously worked with similar technology at the University of Southern California (USC) and as an independent consultant. Jackie has  over 25 years of experience in computing and holds a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Decision Systems from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

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