Thursday, August 31, 2006

Accessing Partitioned Data

One area that tends to confuse some DB2 developers until they gain experience is how DB2 partitioning works. A common question I get goes something like this: “If a table is in a partitioned table space, say four partitions, for example, then to process the table in batch can I run four instances of the batch program in parallel, one against each partition. What do I code to do this?”

Well, the short and sweet answer to this question is “Yes, you can run four instances of a batch program in parallel if you so desire.” But there is a nuance to this misconception that might be missed here. The question lurking beneath the question is this: “How can I make sure I am accessing only data in one partition in each of the batch programs?”

To do this requires some programming work. The program will need to have a means of identifying which partition it should run against. So, you might code the program to accept an input parameter of 1, 2, 3, or 4. The program would read the parameter and translate it into the key range of values that should be read by the program. This is the LIMITKEY value for the particular partition as found in the partitioning index. You can retrieve this value from the DB2 catalog using the following query:


Supply the index name and creator and this query will return the partition number and LIMITKEY for that partition. (If you include this query in the program you probably will want to include the PARTITION column in the WHERE clause and return only a single row.) The LIMITKEY is the high key value for that partition. Using this information you will need to write the queries in the program such that only values from the partition being processes will be retrieved. As long as the program adheres to that key range you should only process data from the one partition that holds that data.

Of course, none of this is necessary to get DB2 to operate in parallel. The best approach uses DB2 query parallelism because it minimizes the amount of programming work and has the potential to maximize performance. To signal DB2 to turn on parallelism you will need to BIND your program specifying the DEGREE(ANY) parameter. Then DB2 will choose the degree of parallelism for the batch program. You will only need to run the program once (instead of 4 times as in our example); DB2 will figure out how many tasks it can run in parallel for each query in the program. And there is no need to modify the program at all! This is far simpler than any alternate approach because DB2 handles chunking up the work into parallel tasks for you.

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