Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Let's Hear It for COBOL!

I know that this blog is supposed to be primarily about DB2, but I like to sneak in mainframe-related topics from time to time. And I read a great article today in Computerworld that I want to share with you. The article, titled Confession of a COBOL Programmer, talks up the need for COBOL coders. Just like with other mainframe technologies, as the baby boomers retire there is an insufficient supply of newbies available to step in and continue the care and feeding of the COBOL legacy.

I've written briefly about COBOL before, in my Data Management Today blog. COBOL is still all over the place and in no danger of dying off. According to the Computerworld article, 75% of the world's businesses data is still processed in COBOL, and about 90% of all financial transactions are in COBOL.

Yet there is a lingering perception "out there" that COBOL is dead (or at least dying). And as far as graduating seniors and new programmers are concerned, COBOL ain't cool! New programmers don't want to learn it and most universities don't teach it in their computer science or information science curricula. Just like the mainframe (which is alive and well, too), COBOL is ignored and a big problem is developing.

Analysts at Gartner estimate that there are 180 billion lines of COBOL code in existence and about 90,000 COBOL programmers. To convert all of that to something else "each programmer will require 100,000 hours to complete the conversion of 2 million lines. That works out to 12,500 eight-hour workdays. If we figure 250 workdays per year (though it’s unlikely any Cobol programmers are settling for just two weeks of vacation per year), these guys should be done in 50 years."

Who knows, when I retire (sometime in the far-off future) maybe I'll hang up a shingle and offer my services as a COBOL coder... after all, that is what I started out doing right out of college (all those years ago)...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Intelligent Automatic Reoptimization? [DB2 9 for z/OS]

Most seasoned SQL programmers know that when you use host variables, DB2 may not always come up with the absolutely most optimal access path at bind time. Without knowing the actual values of the host variables the optimizer has to make some best guesses as to how best to satisfy the SQL request.

Furthermore, we know that we can guide DB2 on how best to approach this situation using the REOPT parameter of the BIND command. Prior to DB2 V9, there were three options for REOPT:

REOPT(NONE) – DB2 will not reoptimize SQL at run time.

REOPT(ALWAYS) – DB2 will prepare SQL statements again at run time when the host variable values are known. This enables the DB2 optimizer to formulate the query execution plan using the actual host variable values, which can result in better performing access paths.

REOPT(ONCE) – DB2 will prepare SQL statements only once, using the first set of host variable values, no matter how many times the statement is executed by the program. The access path is stored in the Dynamic Statement Cache (DSC) and will be used for all subsequent executions of the same SQL statement. REOPT(ONCE) only applies to dynamic SQL statements and is ignored if you use it with static SQL statements. This option was introduced in DB2 V8.

What is New in V9?

DB2 9 for z/OS introduces a new REOPT option: REOPT(AUTO). The ideas behind REOPT(AUTO) is to come up with the optimal access path in the minimum number of prepares.

The basic premise of REOPT(AUTO) is to re-optimize only when host variable values change. Using this option, DB2 will examine the host variable values and will generate new access paths only when host variable values change and DB2 has not already generated an access path for those values.

REOPT(AUTO) only applies to dynamic statements that can be cached.

After migrating to DB2 9, consider re-evaluating programs bound specifying REOPT(ALWAYS) and REOPT(NONE). In many cases, switching to REOPT(AUTO) from REOPT(ALWAYS) can produce performance improvement; and in some cases you can use re-optimization with REOPT(AUTO) for programs bound REOPT(NONE) because of the fear of too frequent re-optimization causing a performance hit.

In particular, consider specifying REOPT(AUTO) for SQL statements that at times can take a relatively long time to execute, depending on the values of parameter markers. In particular, you should especially consider doing this when parameter markers refer to non-uniform data that is joined to other tables.