Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Time to Start Your IDUG in Philadelphia Planning

Spring is in the air... well, at least it is South of the Mason-Dixon line... and that means it is time to plan your trip to this year's IDUG North American DB2 Tech Conference.

Anybody who has ever attended an IDUG conference knows about all of the good things you can expect to encounter, experience and learn at the event. That includes technical session on all of the latest and greatest DB2 technologies and features, networking opportunities to meet IBM developers and industry consultants, and the vendor exhibit hall where you can learn about software and tools to help you get the most out of DB2... not to mention picking up a few tchotchkes and mementos.

Additionally, there are Special Interest Groups (where you can discuss the latest industry trends and topics with other interested technicians), Hands-On Labs (delivering working training led by IBM), and the opportunity to take free IBM certification exams.

But there's even more... not only is this year's conference in Philadelphia, PA, a new venue for IDUG, but the half- and full-day educational seminars (that used to require an additional fee) are included in your registration fee.

I'll be presenting my DB2 Performance Roadmap presentation  at this year's IDUG, so be sure to stop in to say "Hi" and chat about DB2, big data, or your favorite topic du jour!

The IDUG DB2 Tech Conference is the place to be to learn all about DB2 from IBMers, gold consultants, IBM champions, end users, and more. With all of this great stuff going on in Philadelphia this May, why wouldn't you want to be there!?!?

Download the IDUG brochure for more details.

Monday, March 16, 2015

SQL Performance Basics: Part 2, Rely on Indexes

Perhaps the single most important aspect of SQL tuning is indexing. All developers should know all of the indexes that exist on any table upon which they write SQL statements. When an index exists on a column (or columns), DB2 can use the index to reduce I/O instead of scanning the entire table to satisfy a predicate. 

For critical queries, where no useful indexes exists, it usually makes sense to create an index to improve query performance. Of course, developers should enlist the assistance of a DBA to ensure the creation of appropriate indexes.

Let's learn with Bsome basics. For example, consider this SQL statement:
    FROM     EMP 
    WHERE    EMPNO = '000010' 
    AND      DEPTNO =  'D01'
What index or indexes would make sense for this simple query? ""'First, think about all the possible indexes that you could create. Your first short list probably looks something like this:
  • Index1 on EMPNO
  • Index2 on DEPTNO
  • Index3 on EMPNO and DEPTNO
This is a good start, and Index3 is probably the best of the lot. It lets DB2 use the index to immediately look up the row or rows that satisfy the two simple predicates in the WHERE clause. Of course, if you already have a lot of indexes on the EMP table, you might want to examine the impact of creating yet another index on the table. There are several factors to consider. 

Indexing Factors to Consider
For starters, you need to weigh the impact of data modification. DB2 will automatically maintain every index you create. This means every INSERT and every DELETE to this table will insert and delete not just from the table, but also from its indexes. And if you UPDATE the value of a column that is in an index, you also update the index. So, indexes speed the process of retrieval but slow down modification.
You should also consider the impact to any existing indexes and applications before creating a new index. If an index already exists on EMPNO or DEPTNO, it might not be wise to create another index on the combination. However, it might make sense to change the other index to add the missing column. But not always, because the order of the columns in the index can make a big difference depending on the query. For example, consider this query:
WHERE    EMPNO = '000010' 
AND      DEPTNO >  'D01';
In this case, EMPNO should be listed first in the index. And DEPTNO should be listed second, allowing DB2 to do a direct index lookup on the first column (EMPNO) and then a scan on the second (DEPTNO) for the greater-than.
Furthermore, if indexes already exist for both columns (one for EMPNO and one for DEPTNO), DB2 can use them both to satisfy this query so creating another index might not be necessary.
Finally, you should consider the importance of the query you are attempting to tune. The more important the query, the more you might want to tune by index creation. Of course, the term "importance" is not always easy to quantify. If you are coding a query that the CEO will run every day, you want to make sure it delivers optimal performance. So building indexes for that particular query is important. On the other hand, a query for a clerk might not necessarily be weighted as high, so that query might have to make do with the indexes that already exist. Of course, the decision depends on the application's importance to the business--not just on the user's importance. If the clerk runs business critical transactions and the CEO is simply printing off a report for later consumption, then the importance varies... right?

Index Overloading
Index design involves much more than I have covered so far. For example, you might consider index overloading to achieve index-only access. If all the data that a SQL query asks for is contained in the index, DB2 might be able to satisfy the request using only the index. Consider our previous SQL statement. We asked for LASTNAME and SALARY, given information about EMPNO and DEPTNO. And we also started by creating an index on the EMPNO and DEPTNO columns. If we include LASTNAME and SALARY in the index as well, we never need to access the EMP table because all the data we need exists in the index. This technique can significantly improve performance because it cuts down on the number of I/O requests.
Keep in mind that making every query an index-only access is not prudent or even possible. You should save this technique for particularly troublesome or important SQL statements.

The Bottom Line
A solid understanding of the indexes that exist -- and how additional indexes can help -- is vital to the performance of your DB2 applications. Take the time to understand the indexes that exist for your applications and you can become a better developer, becoming more valuable to your organizations and earning the respect of your peers!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

SQL Performance Basics: Ask For Only What You Need

As you write SQL statements to access DB2 data, there are certain very simple, yet important rules to follow to encourage efficient SQL. Of course, SQL performance is a complex topic and to understand every nuance of how SQL performs can take a lifetime to master. That being said, adhering to the following simple rules puts you on the right track to achieving high-performing DB2 applications.

The first rule is to always provide only the exact columns that you need to retrieve in the SELECT-list of each SQL SELECT statement. Sometimes this is shortened to “do not use SELECT *”. The shorthand SELECT * means retrieve all columns from the table(s) being accessed. This is fine for quick and dirty queries but is bad practice for inclusion in application programs because DB2 tables may need to be changed in the future to include additional columns. SELECT * will retrieve those new columns, too, and your program may not be capable of handling the additional data without requiring time-consuming changes. 

Even if the program needs every column, it is better to explicitly ask for each column by name in the SQL statement for clarity and to avoid accessing new and unwanted columns.
DB2 consumes additional resources for every column you specify to be returned. If the program does not need the data, it should not ask for it.

The second part of asking only for what you need is using the WHERE clause to filter data in the SQL instead of bringing it all into your program. This is a common rookie mistake. It is much better for DB2 to filter the data before returning it to your program. This is true because DB2 uses additional I/O and CPU resources to obtain each row of data. The fewer rows passed to your program, the more efficient your SQL will be. So, the following SQL

    FROM    EMP
    WHERE   SALARY > 50000.00;

Is better than simply reading all of the data without the WHERE clause and then checking each row to see if the SALARY is greater than 50000.00 in your program.

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Few DB2 Connect Guidelines

Here are a few guidelines for you to consider as you work to implement and optimize your usage of IBM's DB2 Connect gateway...

Consider DB2 Connect PE for Single Workstation Solutions  DB2 Connect PE can be a good choice for two-tier client/server applications running on desktop workstations that need to access data from mainframe DB2 databases. However, the personal edition is not suitable for deployment on multi-user systems and application servers.

If you have two people who share a workstation, DB2 Connect PE is a viable solution, because each person uses the workstation individually. That is, they cannot both use the workstation at the same time. Only one connection is required at any time for both of these users so only one license of DB2 Connect PE is required.
On the other hand, if you set up five workstations as dumb terminals making connections to a DB2 for z/OS server, you would need ten licenses of DB2 Connect PE. Of course, you could use DB2 Connect EE instead, too. Or setting up a client with a Type 4 driver can be sufficient.

Consider DB2 Connect EE for Multi-User Solutions  DB2 Connect EE is the required solution when a middle tier connectivity server is needed. DB2 Connect EE is suitable for environments where the number of concurrent users can be easily determined. However, DB2 Connect UE and ASE are preferable to EE for web-based applications and multi-tier client/server applications where the number of concurrent users is difficult, or impossible, to determine. This is so mostly due to the cost of licensing.

Again, using Type 4 drivers without a DB2 Connect gateway can be a sufficient solution for many organizations.
Setting Up the DDF for z/OS  You must set up the DDF as an application server to connect distributed applications to DB2 for z/OS. There are two ways of doing this:
  • INSERT the LUNAME of the remote system into the SYSIBM.LUNAMES table.

Be sure to perform a DDF update to the Boot Strap Data (BSDS) after making one of these changed. Because DDF will try to connect to VTAM you must ensure that VTAM is active when the DDF starts.

Configure Distributed Threads  Use the DSNZPARM CMTSTAT to control the behavior of distributed threads. CMTSTAT specifies whether a DDF thread is made active or inactive after it successfully commits or rolls back and holds no cursors. Consider setting CMTSTAT to INACTIVE because inactive connections consume less storage. A thread can become inactive only if it holds no cursors, has no temporary tables defined, and executes no statements from the dynamic statement cache.

If you specify ACTIVE, the thread remains active. Although this can improve performance it consumes system resources. If your installation supports a large number of connections, specify INACTIVE.

DB2 supports two different types of inactive threads:
  1. An inactive DBAT, previously called a type 1 inactive thread, has the same characteristics as inactive threads prior to DB2 V8. This type of thread remains associated with the connections, but DB2 minimizes the thread’s storage use as much as possible.
  2. An inactive connection, previously called a type 2 inactive thread, uses less storage than an inactive DBAT. In this case, the connections are disassociated from the thread. The thread can be pooled and reused for other connections, new or inactive. This provides better resource utilization because there are typically a small number of threads that can be used to service a large number of connections.

    Although inactive connections are preferable to inactive DBATs, not every thread can become an inactive connection. If a thread is to become inactive, DB2 tries to make it an inactive connection. If DB2 cannot make it an inactive connection, it tries to make it an inactive DBAT. If neither attempt is successful, the thread remains active.

Increasing Data Transfer Rates  In addition to blocking of rows for a query result set, DB2 can also return multiple query blocks in response to an OPEN or FETCH request to a remote client (such as DB2 Connect). Instead of repeatedly sending requests to DB2 for z/OS requesting one block of data at a time, DB2 Connect can optionally request that the server send back some number of extra query blocks. These extra query blocks allow the client to minimize network traffic, thereby improving performance. DB2 Connect can be set up to request extra query blocks from a mainframe DB2 server by default.

Use the EXTRA BLOCKS SRV parameter on the DB2 DDF installation panel to enable support for extra query blocks. The minimum value for this parameter is 0 and the maximum is 100. Favor keeping the parameter set to the default value, which is 100.

You can also set up the EXTRA BLOCK REQ installation parameter to limit the number of extra DRDA query blocks that DB2 is to request from a remote DRDA server. This parameter does not limit the size of the SQL query answer set. It simply controls the total amount of data that can be transmitted on a network exchange. The minimum value for this parameter is 0 and the maximum is 100, which is also the default.

On the client side, you activate support on a cursor or statement basis. It is controlled by a query rowset size for a cursor, or the value of n in the OPTIMIZE FOR n ROWS clause or FETCH FIRST n ROWS ONLY clause.
Specify Character Data Types with Care  When character data is accessed using DB2 Connect, the choice of CHAR versus VARCHAR will impact performance. VARCHAR is more efficient if the length varies significantly. If the size of data does not vary much, CHAR is more efficient because each VARCHAR column requires two bytes of length information to be transmitted along with the data.

Of course, DB2 Connect transmission performance is but one consideration when choosing a data type. Refer to Chapter 5 for additional considerations.

BIND the DB2 Connect Utilities  DB2 Connect comes with several utilities that use embedded SQL, and therefore their programs must be bound to a database server before they can be used with that system. The list of bind files required by these utilities is contained in the following ddcsmvs.lst file for DB2 for z/OS. If you do not use the DB2 Connect utilities, you do not have to BIND their programs to each of your DB2 for z/OS database servers.

If DB2 Connect Enterprise Edition is installed, the DB2 Connect utilities must be bound to each database server once from each type of client platform, before they can be used with that system. For example, if you have 5 Windows clients and 4 Linux clients connecting to DB2 for z/OS using DB2 Connect EE, then BIND the programs in ddcsmvs.lst from one of the Windows clients, as well as from one of the Linux clients, and then from the DB2 Connect server. If all the clients are not at the same service level, you might need to BIND from each client for each particular service level.

Beware of SQLCODE and SQLSTATE Differences  Different IBM relational DBMSs will not always produce the same SQLCODE values for the same or similar errors. This can be trouble­some in distributed applications. There are two ways of handling this situation:
  • Use SQLSTATE instead of SQLCODE. The SQLSTATE values have the same basic meaning across the IBM’s DBMS products.
  • Use SQLCODE mapping.

DB2 Connect can map SQLCODEs and tokens from each IBM mainframe or iSeries server to your appropriate DB2 UDB system. You can specify your own SQLCODE mapping file if you want to override the default mapping or you are using a non-IBM database server that does not have SQLCODE mapping.

SQLCODE mapping is enabled by default. If you want to turn off SQLCODE mapping, specify NOMAP in the parameter string of the DCS directory or the DCE routing information object.

Assign Authids per Application  Consider assigning each distributed application a dedicated authid. This approach is superior to simply using the same authid for all applications because:
  •  Each authid can be assigned only the permissions it needs.
  •  You can use WLM to assign each authid different priorities, as needed.
  •  For troubleshooting, it is easier to identify the offending application.
  •  You can measure application resource usage by authid. 

Assure Appropriate Distributed Logon Authority  Be sure that DB2 administrators have the required authority on the distributed platforms that interact with DB2 for z/OS. For example, a UNIX logon should be available for the performance analyst or DBA to view db2diag.log and web application logs.

In addition, the logon should have sufficient authority to execute appropriate commands as needed. For example, iostat and vmstat are useful commands that may need to be issued.

Similar considerations should be made for Windows servers.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Choosing Between DECIMAL and FLOAT Data Types

DB2 can use both DECIMAL and FLOAT data types to store non-integer numeric data. But the two are not equivalent. In general, use DECIMAL instead of FLOAT whenever you can. The main problem with floating point numbers is that they are not precise. DECIMAL values are precise. In other words, a FLOAT value will be an approximate value whereas a DECIMAL value will be an exact value.

At times, if 100 percent precision is not required, you might want to use floating point numbers to save on storage. DB2 provides a parameter to size the floating point column; n where the data type specification is FLOAT(n). If n is between 1 and 21, this is a single precision floating point number and the column will require 4 bytes of storage; if n is between 22 and 53, this is a double precision floating point number and it will require 8 bytes to store it. A single precision floating-point number is a short (32 bits) floating-point number. A double precision floating-point number is a long (64 bits) floating-point number.

For DECIMAL columns, the byte count is calculated as INTEGER(p/2)+1; where p is the precision of the DECIMAL column. So, a DECIMAL(10,2) column will require (10/2)+1 bytes = 6 bytes. An approximation of the same number could be stored in a FLOAT(21) column that would require only 4 bytes of storage.

For very large or very small numbers, though, you will have to use FLOAT columns. This is so because there is a limit of 31 on decimal precision. The following outlines the largest and smallest values that can be supported using DECIMAL and FLOAT data types:

  •   Smallest FLOAT value is about -7.2**75
  •   Largest FLOAT value is about 7.2**75
  •   Smallest positive FLOAT value is about 5.4**-79
  •   Largest negative FLOAT value is about -5.4**-79
  •   Smallest DECIMAL value is 1 – 10**31
  •   Largest DECIMAL value is 10**31 - 1

Note that the values for floating point numbers are approximations. The ** is used to indicate “raised to the power of”.

If you are moving the between platforms, there is an additional concern when using FLOAT. Mainframes use an IBM standard whereas other platforms use different standards. Since floating point numbers are imprecise to begin with this may not be a problem. However, if you want to make sure that a particular column will be exactly the same value regardless of platform, then floating point is not the way to go. 

There is a third, newer option called DECFLOAT. Introduced in DB2 9 for z/OS, DECFLOAT is a combination of the two data types discussed here, or a decimal floating-point data type. Specified as DECXFLOAT(n), where the value of n can be either 16 or or 34, representing the number of significant digits that can be stored. If the n is not specified, then the DECFLOAT column can represent 34 significant digits.

A decimal floating-point value is an IEEE 754r number with a decimal point. The maximum precision is 34 digits and the range of a DECFLOAT number is as follows:

DECFLOAT(16) value can range from a low of: 

to a high of:

And a DECFLOAT(34) value can range from a low of:
-9.999999999999999999999999999999999 ×10**6144

to a high of:
9.999999999999999999999999999999999 ×10**6144

In addition, the DECFLOAT data type can be used to represent several special values that represent "non-number numbers," as follows:

  • Infinity - a value that represents a number whose magnitude is infinitely large.
  • Quiet NaN - a value that represents undefined results which does not cause an invalid number condition. NaN is not a number.
  • Signaling NaN - a value that represents undefined results which will cause an invalid number condition if used in any numerical operation.

So decimal-floating point values can be more flexible and precise with the ability to range lower and higher than floating point values (or decimal values). However, before using DECFLOAT be careful and plan ahead. If you use COBOL programs to operate on your DB2 for z/OS data because there is no way to specify the SQL DECFLOAT data type in COBOL.