Wednesday, April 20, 2016

IDUG is Coming to the Lone Star State

The weather is improving, Spring has sprung and that means it is, once again, time to start planning your trip to this year's IDUG North American DB2 Tech Conference. This year it is being held in Austin, TX at the Renaissance Austin Hotel. This is a very nice area and the hotel is great – I’ve stayed there numerous times in the past.

If you’ve ever attended an IDUG conference before then you know all about the fantastic educational and entertainment opportunities that IDUG offers. Of course there will be a ton of informative technical sessions on all of the latest and greatest DB2 technologies and features. The presentations vary in length from an hour to a half day to complete full day training sessions. 

And if you are looking to learn something completely new, but data-related, this year there is even a special opportunity to learn about Spark technology on Wednesday.

But IDUG is not just a bunch of presentations… it is so much more. There are countless networking opportunities to meet and talk with your peers, IBM developers, and industry consultants. And let’s not forget about the vendor exhibit hall where you can talk to the ISVs and learn all the about software and tools that can help you get the most out of DB2... not to mention picking up a few tchotchkes and mementos.

Additionally, there are Special Interest Groups (where you can discuss the latest industry trends and topics with other interested technicians), Hands-On Labs (delivering working training led by IBM), and the opportunity to take complementary IBM certification exams.

I’ll be there, too. So if you're going to IDUG be sure to find me and say “Hello.” I'll be delivering talking about the changing state of DB2 for z/OS in my session: It’s Not Your Daddy’s DB2! And I’ll also be talking at the VSPs this year… 2 of them. I'll be co-presenting with SEG on DB2 auditing and also on managing DB2 incompatibilities. So be sure to attend these informative sessions!

I am also planning to present at a special evening meeting being held by DKL. I’ll talk about SQL quality assurance and performance… but there will also be libations and snacks, too. So hunt us down on Tuesday night… stop by the DKL booth for an invitation.

The IDUG DB2 Tech Conference is the place to be to learn all about DB2 from IBMers, gold consultants, IBM champions, end users, and more. With all of this great stuff going on in Austin this May, why wouldn't you want to be there!?!?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Don’t let ICIs put your DB2 application in the ICU!

Those of you who have been paying close attention have probably already noticed, or indeed encountered, incompatibility issues with how DB2 for z/OS behaves from version to version. Oh, sure, we all know that there have been deprecated features, and we deal with those over the long periods of time it takes for the features to be completely removed from DB2. Sure, we don't like it, but it is not really a huge problem to manage.

But there are other DB2 incompatibilities that are more troublesome to manage. You see, over the course of the past several releases of DB2 for z/OS, IBM has been making changes that can modify the behavior of your DB2 application programs. Code that worked one way works differently after migration. The number of incompatible changes being introduced by IBM started off slowly in DB2 9 but has grown to a significant number today. So much so that there IBM has introduced ICIs, or incompatible change indicators that can be traced using IFCIDs. 

Additionally, there are ways to repress these changes from occurring, but it is not quite as simple as that. What ever is that simple, right?

Well, if you are at all interested in learning more about DB2 incompatibilities and how to manage them, join me and Roy Boxwell for our webinar, Don’t let ICIs put your DB2 application in the ICU! 

We will discuss the issues, how they impact your applications, and offer up some guidance on how to get your arms around the problem. And Roy will show us how SEG's Workload Expert technology can be used to make it easier to track these issues, as well as to manage and control their impact on your DB2 applications.

So register today and join us in this informative webinar scheduled for April 28 2016 at 1:00 PM Eastern time.

This session will discuss the incompatible changes, their potential impact on your applications, as well as provide guidance on how to tackle the whole experience. And you’ll also see how SEGUS’s Workload Expert technology makes it easier to manage and control these incompatible changes. With all of this information at your disposal, you can make sure that your DB2 applications do not wind up in the ICU (intensive care unit)!

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Most Misunderstood Features of DB2 - Part 8: Do I have to pick just one?

There are so many misunderstood and misused aspects of DB2 for z/OS that it would be hard to choose only one. This series of blog posts, which concludes today with this one, has covered a wide variety of topics over 7 installments. So it would seem that there is no lack of misunderstanding out there!

So, if I had to pick just one thing as the most misunderstood thing, I think I’m going to have to cheat and say that the biggest problem in DB2-land is an overall pervasive lack of knowledge of what DB2 can do. Who among us can really say that we know everything there is to know about every last feature and function that our favorite DBMS supports?

Now don’t get me wrong? I am not trying to indict the technicians using DB2. Richard Saul Wurman wrote a book called Information Anxiety that details what I think many of us are feeling, which is a general uneasiness at being overwhelmed with a large amount of facts, figures and data that can be hard to master.

This situation has come about because DBMSs are becoming large and unwieldy as they adopt functionality that previously was performed outside of the database environment. This is certainly that case with DB2 for z/OS which has adding a lot of new SQL functionality, new types of table spaces, temporal support, IDAA, and on and on and on in just the past few releases. There is simply too much functionality in DB2 for anyone to be an expert on all of it (well, with this possible exception of some of those IBM developers).

If you’ve missed any of the previous posts in this series, here are links to each of the 7 prior installments in this series:

And now, with all of these misunderstandings out of the way, maybe we can focus on more understanding in upcoming blog posts!

Friday, April 08, 2016

Happy Birthday Mainframe!

Fifty Two Years Ago This Week

On April 7, 1964, IBM announced "a new generation of electronic computing equipment" called the IBM System/360... or as it, and subsequent generations of the machine have become known, the mainframe!

If you'd like to take a walk down memory lane you can read the original press release on the IBM web site.

The System/360, unquestionably, was one of the most significant products in the history of computing. The general, sound concepts of the System/360 are still the at the foundation of modern mainframe. Sure, a lot has changed, but those changes were made to a solid, fundamentally sound base.

Code that ran on the System/360 can still be run on the latest and greatest modern IBM mainframe, the z13. What other platform can say that? I mean, when my desktop was recently force upgraded from Windows 7 to WIndows 10 some of my software stopped running!

So let's take a moment and salute the mainframe on its 52nd birthday... and wish it many more years of productive use.

Happy birthday, mainframe!

Monday, April 04, 2016

The Most Misunderstood Features of DB2 – Part 7: It Depends!

"It depends" is probably the most famous phrase out there when it comes to DB2 performance. Some call it the cardinal rule. You can answer just about any question that anybody asks at any time with it. Try it out. It depends! Always works... that is, it always works if you are trying to avoid answering the question!

Most DBAs and SQL experts resist giving a straight or simple answer to a general question because there is no simple and standard implementation that exists. Every situation is different, and every organization is unique in some way. So answering "it depends" to most questions can make a lot of sense. But "it depends" should never be the end of the answser!

Don’t be discouraged when you ask the local expert which statement will perform better, and the answer is “It depends.” The expert is just doing his or her job. The secret to optimizing DB2 performance is being able to answer the follow-up question to “It depends”—and that is “What does it depend on?

The key to effective SQL performance tuning is to document each SQL change along with the reason for the change. Follow up by monitoring the effectiveness of every change to your SQL statements before moving them into a production environment. Over time, trends will emerge that will help to clarify which types of SQL formulations perform best.

So the misunderstanding in this case is thinking that "it depends" is a complete answer to any type of question. It isn't... it is just the beginning of most answers. But it takes time, experience, and study to be able to answer what it depends upon. And that is why you might not get that answer unless you press for it... and attempt to find the answer yourself without just leaning on others for the answer all the time.

There is a corollary to the “It depends” rule that also is important. Hard and fast rules that rigidly enforce or forbid usage are not a good idea. In other words, this corollary is simply stated: “Almost never say always or never.” Notice that even the wording of this corollary embraces flexibility. 

So be flexible, but embrace answers that help... because "it depends" helps nobody unless you tell them what it depends upon!