Monday, May 14, 2018

Improving Performance by Caching Select Statement Results


A significant trend in the database world these days is moving more data management and processing into memory. If you can bypass disk I/O you can achieve tremendous performance gains. There are many reasons for this, but of course, the most important reason is that disk access is much slower than memory access.

It is orders of magnitude more efficient to access data from computer memory than it is to read it from disk. Memory access is usually measured in microseconds, whereas disk access is measured in milliseconds (1 millisecond equals 1000 microseconds).


So, it makes sense to process as much data as we can in memory. This is the reason that most popular RDBMS use buffer pools to cache data in memory. But buffer pools are not always sufficient for caching everything that is needed. Just take a look at IBM Db2 12 for z/OS and the index FTB feature, which caches unique index structures in memory – not in any buffer pool.

FTBs, or Fast Traverse Blocks, provide in-memory index optimization. FTBs are stored in a separate area outside of your buffer pools. You must allocate additional real memory for it in Db2 12. This memory is an optimized structure for fast index lookups that provide random index access. The FTB contains the non-leaf structure of the index.

QuickSelect for Db2

Of course, FTBs are just one technique to optimize your memory usage. Another technique you might consider is to deploy QuickSelect for Db2, an in-memory optimization product from Log-On Software (an Israeli company that has been providing tools and services to the mainframe market for decades). QuickSelect for Db2 caches query results in memory. This is a different concept than buffer pools which cache table and index space pages or in-memory tables which cache entire tables.

By caching the results of frequently run queries in memory with QuickSelect for Db2, you can optimize the SQL statements that recur frequently in your environment. QuickSelect runs as a started task and it automatically caches repetitive query results in self-managed memory above the bar (64-bit).

QuickSelect returns the same data DB2 would – but from its cache. QuickSelect will identify and cache only frequently used data via a threshold parameter. This saves both CPU and I/O, and therefore can reduce elapsed time and improve application response times. All other requests are satisfied as usual by Db2.

Which leads to the question: which queries should be cached? QuickSelect helps you to identify ideal queries with its Survey mode which automatically finds SQL queries suitable for caching.

The results cached by QuickSelect are the actual data retrieved by Db2 queries. So the next time that same query runs (with the same host variable values) the results are quickly returned from the QuickSelect cache instead of invoking process-heavy disk I/O operations. Think of all the repetitive SQL that you are running in your shop every day – and all of the redundant I/O that is used to read that data over and over again.

But, you may be asking, what happens if the data changes? Well, QuickSelect is aware of all changes that are made, whether by a Db2 utility like Load, Reorg and Recover, or by your applications issuing Insert, Update, Delete, and Truncate statements. Data changes on the tables that are cached are detected by QuickSelect in real-time using various techniques. QuickSelect invalidates the cached data for the updated tables automatically, thus data integrity is preserved. Further queries will cause QuickSelect to cache the updated data, thereby continuing to save. QuickSelect runs in a multiple LPAR environment and supports update sensitivity by using XCF functions.

In other words, QuickSelect returns the same answer as Db2 does… only faster. And, of course, that is the most important thing.

If you were paying attention as you read through this so far you will have noticed that there are no application changes required whatsoever to enable QuickSelect. And you do not have to Rebind your programs to take advantage of QuickSelect, either!

What happens if you shut down QuickSelect? There should be no impact on your application programs; processing reverts entirely back to Db2. The data will no longer be returned from the QuickSelect cache, instead it will again be retrieved by Db2 just like before you used QuickSelect.

QuickSelect: The Latest Features

Log-On Software is not resting on its laurels; new features are added to QuickSelect on a regular basis. For example, in Febrauary 2018 auto-configuration was added to QuickSelect, thereby easing configuration in a Data Sharing environment.

With auto-configuration the QuickSelect group configuration is dynamically determined. It is no longer required to pre-configure QuickSelect groups. QuickSelect now automatically detects the active members in the Db2 group, if any, and automatically establishes a connection between all QuickSelect servers that correlate to the current Db2 configuration. This is much simpler than the previous requirement of hard-coding QuickSelect grouping using pre-defined parameters.  

The Bottom Line

QuickSelect for Db2 offers a different approach to in-memory caching by focusing on query results. QuickSelect for Db2 customers have been able to significantly reduce CPU during peak times – the times set by the rolling four-hour average that impact your monthly IBM software bill.

For example, one customer, a large European commercial Bank was able to turn off an entire CPU after installing QuickSelect in production due to the CPU savings they achieved. In this case, the customer was saving more than 10 billion SQL statements during a typical 12-hour window.

The bottom line is that in-memory processing can save CPU, improve performance and save money. Wise organizations will look into multiple ways of exploiting memory to achieve results, including potentially looking at novel software solutions like QuickSelect for Db2.


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