Wednesday, July 10, 2019

There’s a New Db2 12 for z/OS Function Level (505)


In late June 2019, IBM delivered more great new capabilities with the latest new function level for Db2 12 for z/OS, Function Level 505 (or FL505).

If you do not know what a function level is, then you probably aren’t yet on Version 12, because function levels are how new capabilities are being rolled out for Db2 12 and beyond. It is how IBM has enabled a continuous delivery model for Db2 functionality. You can learn more about function levels here.

Although the first link above goes into all of the gory details of the new functionality, I will take a bit of time to summarize the highlights of this new function level.

The first thing that will appeal to most Db2 users is improved performance. And FL505 delivers improved performance in two areas: HTAP and RUNSTATS.
  • For HTAP, FL505 improves the latency between Db2 and the IBM Analytics Accelerator (sometimes called IDAA). Nobody likes latency and these improvements can enable transactional and analytical applications to see the same data.
  • For RUNSTATS, FL505 makes the default RUNSTATS behavior to use page sampling for universal table spaces (unless the RUNSTATS specification explicitly states TABLESAMPLE SYSTEM with a value other than AUTO). This will boost RUNSTATS performance. (A nice description of this is provided by Peter Hartmann here.)

FL505 also delivers
REBIND phase-in for executing packages. Waiting for a package to be idle (not running) has long been a deterrent to rebinding. Now, you can REBIND a package while it is running. Db2 makes this happen by creating a new copy of the package. When the REBIND completes, new executions of the package will use the newly rebound package and the threads already running with the old package continue to do so successfully until completion.

We also get some new built-in functions (BIFs) in FL505, for encrypting and decrypting data using key labels. You may be aware that Db2 already had functions for encryption and decryption but these functions, introduced back in V9 were not very capable because they required you to provide and manage a password to decrypt the data. The new functions work with key labels: encrypting plain text using ENCRYPT_DATAKEY to a block of encrypted text using a specified algorithm and key label; and decrypting with DECRYPT_DATAKEY to return the block of data decrypted to the specified data type.

And with FL505 we finally get additional functionality for DECFLOAT data type. The DECFLOAT data type was introduced in DB2 9 for z/OS, but it is not widely used because of some shortcoming. But first, what is DECFLOAT? Well, DECFLOAT is basically a combination of DECIMAL and floating-point data types, that is a decimal floating-point or DECFLOAT 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. A decimal floating-point value is an IEEE 754r number with a decimal point and it can be useful to store and manage very large numbers.

So what is the improvement? Quite simply, it is now possible to specify columns defined as DECFLOAT in an index and as a key in a primary key or a unique key. Unfortunately, there is still no support for DECFLOAT usage in COBOL programs, which will likely continue to hinder its uptake in many shops.

And finally, FL505 improves temporal support for triggers. It delivers the capability to reference system temporal tables and archive-enabled tables in the WHEN clause of your triggers.  

Summary

IBM is using function levels to deliver significant new capabilities for Db2 12 for z/OS. It is important for you and your organization to keep up-to-date on this new functionality and to determine where and when it makes sense to introduce it into your Db2 databases and applications.

Also, be aware that if you are not currently running at FL504, moving to FL505 activates all earlier function levels. You can find a list of all the current function levels here.



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