Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Planning DB2 Educational Resources

Ensuring access to proper DB2 educational materials should be one of the first issues to be addressed after your organization decides to implement DB2. But education sometimes falls through the cracks... 

Does your organization understand what DB2 is? How it works? For what purposes it is needed at your shop? How it will be used? Without a sound understanding of DB2, its components, and features, it is unlikely that you will be able to use DB2 to its best advantage. A basic level of DB2 knowledge can be acquired through a short DB2 fundamentals class for the IT personnel charged with making DB2 a success at your ­organization. But long-term success with DB2 requires ongoing education.

After addressing the basics of DB2 education, you must support continuing DB2 education for your co-workers/employees. This support falls into four categories. 

The first category of training is a standard regimen of SQL and DB2 programming training to be used by application developers. Every programmer should receive basic training on SQL, education on how to embed SQL in the programming languages they will be using, and possibly additional courses on using DB2 with specific infrastructure software like MQ, WebSphere, CICS, and IMS. Also, with the importance of distributed access to DB2 these days, a course should be made available on that topic, with specific portions that address the technology used by your shop to provide distributed DB2 data access. If this basic level of DB2 education is not required for every DB2 programmer, then DB2 application performance will surely suffer as untrained coders write inefficient and incorrect SQL.

The second category of education support is external training for special needs. This support includes education for database administrators, technical support personnel, and performance analysts. Additionally, your organization needs to plan for ongoing education to keep appropriate personnel up-to-date on new versions and releases of DB2. Although IBM typically offers great courses for new DB2 releases, several third-party vendors such as KBCE and Themis regularly offer in-depth training and release-specific DB2 courses and lectures.

The third category of education is in-house, interactive training in the form of videos, computer-based training, and instructor-led courses. These courses should be used to augment and refresh the formal training given to your DB2 professional staff. 

The fourth, and final category of support, is reference material—for example, IBM’s DB2 manuals, DB2 books (such as DB2 Developer's Guide), vendor-supplied white papers, and industry publications and periodicals. The current IBM manuals for DB2 are listed on the inside back cover of this book. Some organizations have third-party software for accessing manuals online, but the Web offers most everything needed these days.

IBM offers the free, web-based Information Center, as well as PDF versions of all DB2manuals freely available for download over the Web.

Of course, you should consider augmenting the standard IBM DB2 manuals with IBM redbooks. IBM redbooks provide in-depth, detailed coverage of a specific technology topic. IBM publishes redbooks on multiple subjects, including DB2, IMS, CICS, z/OS, and many other topics. IBM redbooks can greatly assist DB2 technicians working to understand a feature or nuance of DB2. You can download IBM red books for free in Adobe Acrobat format over the Web at http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/

IBM also offers many other useful sources of DB2 information on the Web including white papers, articles, and book excerpts from IBM Press publications. Another useful source for DB2 information is the IBM Developerworks website. Developerworks offers technical details about development using IBM software and frequently offers DB2-related articles. 

Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) are another rich source of DB2 information. The major vendors provide in-depth technical papers on features of DB2 that would be difficult for most shops to research in the same detail. BMC Software, CA Technologies, Compuware Corporation, and others are good sources for DB2-related white papers and content.

All of these educational components—in-house education, external education, and industry publications—are useful for learning how you can use DB2 effectively. You would be wise to have a mix of material that supports more than one of the categories outlined previously. In this way, you provide a varied learning environment that meets the needs of all students. This varied learning environment allows each student to learn in the most conducive way for him or her. Plan to provide an on-site library of educational material addressing the following subjects:
  • Introduction to relational databases
  • Introduction to DB2 and SQL
  • Advanced SQL
  • Programming DB2 using (your languages of choice)
  • Programming DB2 in batch
  • Programming DB2 using TSO, CICS, and IMS
  • Programming DB2 and the Web
  • Creating DB2 stored procedures, triggers, and UDFs
  • Programming DB2 in a Distributed Environment
  • Debugging and Problem Analysis

You also might want to have an introductory DB2 database administration course to train new DBAs. In addition to this basic education library, plan to provide advanced education for technical DB2 users, such as DBAs, technical support personnel, and technical programmers and analysts. Advanced DBA topics (such as Sysplex Data Sharing, performance management, and backup/recovery) should be left to instructor-led training courses because of the complex nature of DB2 database administration.Additional advanced topics to consider include system administration (for systems programmers) and disaster recovery. Many vendors, including IBM and Themis, offer these classes. Searching for smaller consulting firms and local resources is also prudent; these firms sometimes can provide courses tailored to your installation needs.

The advanced education program should include allocating time to attend area user groups meetings, the annual IBM Insight Conference, and the International DB2 UsersGroup (IDUG) conferences. The DB2 Symposium events also are useful resources for DB2 education. When DB2 users get together to share experiences at such forums, they uncover undocumented solutions and ideas that would be difficult to arrive at independently.

The bottom line is simple, though. Plan for ongoing DB2 education for your DBAs, programmers, and analysts... or plan on failing.

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