Tuesday, August 28, 2007

TEMPLATE Switching [DB2 9 for z/OS]

Next up in this on-going series covering the new features and functionality of DB2 9 for z/OS we will tackle the improvements that have been made to the IBM DB2 utilities.

A nice new feature that impacts multiple utilities is TEMPLATE switching. For those not familiar with templating, TEMPLATE is a utility control statement that enables the allocation of data sets for a LISTDEF (LISTDEF is the way you control the list of database objects for a utility execution). With the TEMPLATE statement you essentially specify data set naming conventions and allocation information without using JCL DD statements.

OK, so what is TEMPLATE switching? What it enables you to do is to specify different characteristics for image copies of varying sizes. So, for example, you can create a different template for low and high volume image copies. Here is an example:






Note the new parameter named LIMIT. This is what controls when the TEMPLATE is switched. In this example we set the LIMIT for low volume at 50 cylinders. When this is reached the TEMPLATE will be switched to the high volume template. Of course, you have the flexibility to control the limit by specifying whatever number is appropriate for your site as well as specifying it in CYL, GB, or MB.

It is important to understand that DB2 can only switch the TEMPLATE once, so you cannot have more than two templates.

Template switching is available for image copies produced by COPY, COPYTOCOPY, MERGECOPY, LOAD, and REORG. And you can set up template switching for both the COPYDDN and RECOVERYDDN.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Optimistic Locking [DB2 9 for z/OS]

DB2 Version 9 improves support for coding optimistic locking techniques. What is optimistic locking? Sometimes referred to as optimistic concurrency control, optimistic locking is basically just what it sounds like. We are optimists and think that usually we will be the only ones with interest in the data. In other words, when optimistic locking is implemented you are assuming that most of the time there will be no other programs that are interested in the page of data that you are planning to modify.

Of course, even in the most optimistic world there will be exceptions, so optimistic locking does not assume that there will never be any concurrent processes that need to access your page(s). Basically, with optimistic locking you can improve performance by minimizing locking. So how do we do that?

When an application uses optimistic locking, locks are obtained immediately before a read operation and then released immediately. Update locks are obtained immediately before an update operation and held until the end of the transaction. Optimistic locking uses the RID (Record IDentifier) and a row change timestamp to test whether data has been changed by another transaction since the last read operation.

DB2 knows when a row was changed and so therefore he (I make DB2 masculine) can ensure data integrity even as he minimizes the duration of locks. With optimistic locking, DB2 releases the page (or row) locks immediately after a read operation. And if you are using row locks, DB2 releases the row lock after each FETCH, taking a new lock on a row only for a positioned update or a positioned delete.

Careful readers will have noticed that I talked about a “row change timestamp” but you may not have heard that expression before. DB2 V9 adds support for automatically generated timestamp columns and if you wish to implement optimistic locking you will need to create (or alter) your tables to have a row change timestamp column, defined as follows:




For tables having a row change timestamp column, DB2 will automatically populate and maintain the timestamp values for each row. Notice how the syntax is similar to the syntax used for other automatically generated DB2 values, such as sequences. DB2 will automatically generate the timestamp value for each row when the row is inserted, and modify the timestamp for each row when any column in that row is updated.

When you add a ROW CHANGE TIMESTAMP column to an existing table, the initial value for existing rows will not be immediately populated. Instead, DB2 places the table space in an advisory-REORG pending state. When you reorganize the table space, DB2 will generates the values for the ROW CHANGE TIMESTAMP column for all rows (and, of course, remove the advisory-REORG pending status).

Now that you have this new column you can use it as a condition for making an UPDATE and specify it in your WHERE clause. Let’s walk thru a couple of examples.

First of all, when a table contains a ROW CHANGE TIMESTAMP you can use it to find out when its rows were modified. Let’s use the following table as an example:



Now that the table is defined with the ROW CHANGE TIMESTAMP we can use it in our programs and queries to determine change information about the data. For example, if we want to find all of the customer rows that were changed in the past week (ie. the last 7 days) we could run the following query:



But what would happen if you issued a statement like this against a table that was altered to include a ROW CHANGE TIMESTAMP? For example, if we created the CUSTOMER table as shown but without the CUST_INFOCHANGE column, populated the table with data, and then altered the table to include the CUST_INFOCHANGE column? In this case, DB2 will use the time the page was last modified. So the results will not be exactly correct because it would return all the rows on each page that qualifies (because at least one row on the page changed). This is why it is important to clear up the advisory REORG pending as soon as possible after adding the ROW CHANGE TIMESTAMP.

OK, this is all well and good, and you can probably see the value of having this automagically changing timestamp in some of your tables, but where is the optimistic locking part? Well, for programs that use updateable static scrollable cursors DB2 can use optimistic locking as long as the plan/package is bound specifying ISOLATION(CS). If you have this situation, DB2 will deploy optimistic locking to reduce the duration of locks between consecutive FETCH operations and between fetch operations and subsequent positioned UPDATE or DELETE operations.

Remember, though, DB2 cannot use optimistic concurrency control for dynamic scrollable cursors. With dynamic scrollable cursors, the most recently fetched row or page from the base table remains locked to maintain position for a positioned UPDATE or DELETE.

Without optimistic locking, the lock taken at the first FETCH is held until the next FETCH. The lock taken at the last FETCH is held until COMMIT, ROLLBACK, or the end of transaction.

With optimistic locking, the scenario changes significantly. When the application requests a FETCH to position the cursor on a row, DB2 locks that row, executes the FETCH and releases the lock. When the application requests a positioned UPDATE or DELETE on the row, DB2 locks the row and then re-evaluates the predicate to ensure that the row still qualifies for the result table.

So, when you move to DB2 9 for z/OS you should evaluate your applications looking for programs that could take advantage of optimistic locking – and then add the ROW CHANGE TIMESTAMP to the appropriate tables.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

DB2-L Is Back Up & Running

In case you haven't noticed yet, the DB2 mailing list (DB2-L) is back up and running as of Monday, August 13, 2007.

However, the archives are not yet available, but it looks like they will be back up soon (with no data loss). So, welcome back DB2-L - - we all missed you!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

DB2-L Is Down

Those of you who subscribe to the DB2 mailing list, also known as DB2-L, may have noticed that the usually steady stream of information, questions, and comments that used to pour into your in-box has dried up. Don't worry (well, you can worry a little bit, I s'pose), it is nothing you have done... DB2-L is not functional.

The company that hosts the list for IDUG moved the server two weeks ago and when they did they destroyed the disk drive. IDUG has been struggling to get everything rebuilt and back up since then, but it is taking longer than expected.

If you want to keep abreast of when it will be back online, status updates will be posted on IDUG's website...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Altering LONG VARCHAR [DB2 9 for z/OS]

Just a short entry today to discuss a feature that will be useful for organizations having tables containing long text strings which are stored as VARCHARs. It involves altering the data type of a column from LONG VARCHAR to a compatible data type.

In previous versions of DB2 before to V9 it is not possible to change the data type of a LONG VARCHAR or LONG VARGRAPHIC column using ALTER. Instead, you would have had to unload the data, drop the table, create the table using the new column definitions and reload the data back into the new table. Of course, when you drop the table you’d lose any authorizations, indexes, etc. defined on the table so you’d have to save and re-create those as well. Basically, it wasn’t easy unless you have a change management tool that automates the process.

But before going any further, what is a LONG VARCHAR? Well, a VARCHAR is a varying-length column for character string data where n specifies the maximum length of the string. If n was greater than 254, the column was setup as a long string column – that is, a LONG VARCHAR; same story for VARGRAPHIC columns.

As of DB2 V9, you will not create any more LONG VARCHAR columns – they are all treated as VARCHARs. But the old LONG VARCHAR columns, migrated from earlier releases, still exist. The COLTYPE in the DB2 Catalog (SYSIBM.SYSCOLUMNS) will be LONGVAR for LONG VARCHAR columns and LOGVARG for LONG VARGRAPHIC columns.

The good news is that V9 allows you to ALTER the data type of LONG VARCHAR to VARCHAR and LONG VARGRAPHIC to VARGRAPHIC using ALTER TABLE with the ALTER COLUMN parameter. First, you must lookup the LENGTH of the column in the SYSCOLUMNS and use that for the length of the new data type specification. For example, if LONGCOL in table EXAMPLE is a LONG VARCHAR you can ALTER it in DB2 V9 to VARCHAR. Assuming the length of the column was 500, you can issue the following ALTER to change the column to VARCHAR from LONG VARCHAR:


You must specify the exact value stored in the DB2 Catalog for LENGTH in this ALTER TABLE statement. Failure to do so will result in an error message.

So, you can convert all of those LONG VARCHAR columns from past versions of DB2 to VARCHAR using the ALTER statement in V9.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Encryption [DB2 9 for z/OS]

DB2 V9 offers some encryption news, but we need to go back a version to start the story. You see, DB2 supports encryption in Version 8 through encryption functions that need to be explicitly coded in order to encrypt and decrypt data.

These functions (ENCRYPT and DECRYPT) allow you to encrypt and decrypt data at the column level. Because you can specify a different password for every row that you insert, you are encrypting data at the “cell” level in your tables. If you use these functions to encrypt your data, be sure to put some mechanism in place to manage the passwords that are used to encrypt the data. Without the password, there is absolutely no way to decrypt the data.

To assist you in remembering the password, you have an option to specify a hint (for the password) at the time you encrypt the data. The following SQL example shows an INSERT that encrypts the SSN ( social security number ) using a password and a hint:

VALUES(ENCRYPT('289-46-8832','TARZAN','? AND JANE'));

The password is “TARZAN” and the hint we’ve chosen to provide is “? AND JANE”… so the hint will prompt us to think of Tarzan as the companion of Jane.

In order to retrieve the encrypted data you will need to use the DECRYPT function supplying the correct password. This is shown in the following SELECT statement:


If we fail to supply a password, or the wrong password, the data is returned in an encrypted format that is unreadable.

The result of encrypting data using the ENCRYPT function is VARCHAR FOR BIT DATA. The encryption algorithm is an internal algorithm. For those who care to know, it uses Triple DES cipher block chaining (CBC) with padding and the 128-bit secret key is derived from the password using an MD5 hash.

When defining columns to contain encrypted data the DBA must be involved because the data storage required is significantly different. The length of the column has to include the length of the non-encrypted data + 24 bytes + the number of bytes to the next 8 byte boundary + 32 bytes for the hint.

OK, that is all V8 stuff and this series of blog postings is supposed to be about V9 functionality, right? So what about version 9? Well, DB2 9 for z/OS offers some nice improvements to encryption support. Firstly, DB2 can take advantage of encryption hardware advances.

CP Assist for Cryptographic Function, aka CPACF, is available on z990 hardware. CPACF can run on all the CPUs, but remember, this feature is available only on z990 and later machines, not the older z900. The z990 also introduces a PCIXCC card which is needed for the IBM Data Encryption Tool, but not for the DB2 encryption functions.

Note: The IBM Data Encryption Tool (available from IBM at an additional price) offers encryption for DB2 tables at the table level, whereas the encryption functions (free with DB2) offer encryption at the column level.

The CP Assist for Cryptographic Function delivers cryptographic support on every CP with Data Encryption Standard (DES), Triple DES (TDES), and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)-128 bit data encryption/decryption, as well as Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA-1) and SHA-256 hashing. For a more detailed discussion of CPACF, associated technology and functionality, check out the following IBM redbook: IBM eServer zSeries 990 (z990) Cryptography Implementation (SG24-7070).

Basically, the net result is that the cost of encrypting DB2 data under V9 is reduced on the z990 hardware.

Additionally, IBM has added encryption support in the controllers of its storage devices.

Both the IBM TS1120 tape drive and IBM Ultrium 4 tape drives include data encryption capabilities within the drives. This support can allow you to avoid the need for host-based encryption of data or the use of specialized encryption appliances. In addition, IBM claims that the encryption does not significantly impact the performance of the drives so there should be minimal to no impact on the batch processing window when encrypting in this manner.

So far, we’ve been talking about encryption for data at rest. But DB2 9 for z/OS also improves support for encryption of data in transit. DB2 9 supports the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol by implementing the z/OS Communications Server IP Application Transparent Transport Layer Security (AT-TLS) function. The z/OS V1R7 Communications Server for TCP/IP introduces the AT-TLS function in the TCP/IP stack for applications that require secure TCP/IP connections. AT-TLS performs transport layer security on behalf of the application, in this case DB2 for z/OS, by invoking the z/OS system SSL in the TCP layer of the TCP/IP stack. The z/OS system SSL provides support for TLS V1.0, SSL V3.0, and SSL V2.0 protocols.

So encryption of data over the wire is improved in z/OS 1.7. The Communications Server supports AT-TLS, which uses SSL data encryption. Now SSL encryption has been available on z/OS for a long time, but now DB2 9 for z/OS makes use of this facility and offers SSL encryption using a new secure port.

When acting as a requester, DB2 for z/OS can request a connection using the secure port of another DB2 subsystem. When acting as a server, and from within a trusted context (I’ll discuss trusted context in a later DB2portal blog entry), SSL encryption can be required for the connection.

So, little by little, better encryption support is being made available within the world of DB2 for z/OS.