Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Top Ten Db2 Performance Tips - No. 7 Configuration Parameters and Tuning

Configuration parameters play a crucial role in optimizing the performance of an IBM Db2 database environment. By understanding the impact of these parameters and tuning them appropriately, database administrators can fine-tune the system to achieve optimal performance. In this blog post, we will explore key configuration parameters and discuss recommended settings and tuning options.

The first thing to understand is that the actual parameters, their specific names, and how they are implemented and modified will differ between Db2 LUW and Db2 for z/OS. This blog post will talk mostly in generalities but the ideas resonate across all Db2 database management systems (and, indeed, even across other relational DBMS platforms).

The first type of parameters are used to configure Database Manager options. The database manager configuration parameters govern the overall behavior of the Db2 instance. Parameters such as database shared memory, lock list, and log buffer size have a significant impact on performance. Adjusting the shared memory size to accommodate the workload, appropriately sizing the lock list to handle concurrent transactions, and setting an optimal log buffer size based on the transaction rate are essential considerations.

Next we have the Buffer Pool parameters. Buffer pools act as a cache for frequently accessed data pages, reducing disk I/O and improving query performance. The size and configuration of buffer pools are critical for efficient memory utilization. Allocating an appropriate amount of memory to buffer pools based on workload characteristics and monitoring buffer pool hit ratios helps optimize performance. 

Here are some crucial considerations for configuring Db2 for z/OS buffer pools:

  • Data Access Patterns: Understand the access patterns of your applications. Buffer pool configuration should align with the types of queries and transactions that are frequently executed. If your workload involves mostly random access, a larger buffer pool may be required. If it involves mostly sequential access, specific settings to favor sequential reads may be required.
  • Buffer Pool Sizing: Determine the appropriate size for each buffer pool. Consider the amount of available memory on your system, the size of the database objects, and the anticipated workload. Larger buffer pools can improve performance, but it's essential to balance memory usage across other system components.
  • Multiple Buffer Pools: Db2 for z/OS allows you to create multiple buffer pools. Consider segregating data based on access patterns or table spaces. For example, you could use separate buffer pools for frequently accessed tables and indexes versus less frequently accessed ones.
  • Page Sizes: Db2 for z/OS supports various page sizes. Ensure that the buffer pool page size matches the page size of the objects being cached. Using the correct page size can reduce internal I/O operations and improve efficiency.
  • Thresholds and Actions: Set appropriate thresholds for buffer pool thresholds, such as the high water mark and low water mark. Define actions to be taken when these thresholds are crossed, such as dynamically adjusting the buffer pool size or issuing alerts.
  • Asynchronous I/O: Enable asynchronous I/O to allow Db2 to overlap I/O operations with processing. This can improve performance by reducing wait times caused by synchronous I/O operations.
  • Monitor and Analyze: Regularly monitor buffer pool performance using Db2's monitoring tools. Analyze statistics and performance metrics to identify areas for improvement or potential issues.
  • Buffer Pool Replacement Policies: Understand and configure the buffer pool replacement policies (e.g., LRU, MRU, FIFO) based on your workload characteristics. Different policies prioritize different data pages for retention in the buffer pool.
  • Maintenance: Regularly review and adjust buffer pool configurations based on changing workloads, data growth, and hardware upgrades.

Also, Db2 for z/OS offers the following buffer pool tuning “knobs” that can be used to configure buffer pools to the type of processing they support:

  • DWQT (deferred write threshold) –  expressed as a percentage of the virtual buffer pool that might be occupied by unavailable pages. When this threshold is reached Db2 will start to schedule write I/Os to externalize data. The default is 30%, which may be too high for many shops.
  • VDWQT (vertical deferred write threshold) – basically the same as DWQT, but for individual data sets. The default is 10%, which once again is quite likely to be too high for many shops.
  • VPSEQT (sequential steal threshold) – expressed as a percentage of the buffer pool that can be occupied by sequentially accessed pages. Tune buffer pools for sequential access such as scans and sorting by modifying VPSEQT to a larger value. The default is 80%.
  • VPPSEQT (parallel sequential steal threshold) – the sequential steal threshold for parallel operations; the default value is 50%.

Additionally, adjusting parameters like page cleaning and prefetch size can further enhance buffer pool performance.

Remember that buffer pool configuration is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires a deep understanding of your specific workload, database design, and hardware capabilities. Regular monitoring and tuning are essential to maintain optimal performance over time.

There are other Memory settings that are nearly as critical as buffer pools, too. One example is the Db2 for z/OS EDM pool. EDM stands for Environmental Descriptor Manager. The EDM pool is used by Db2 to control programs as they execute. It will contain structures that house the access paths of the SQL statements for running programs. 

Actually, the EDM pool is a group that encompasses several other pools, all of which can be configured separately, including skeleton pools, DBD pool, sort pool, and RID pool. The RID pool is used by DB2 to sort RIDs (record identifiers) for List Prefetch, Multiple Index Access, and Hybrid Join access paths.  RID pool failures can cause performance degradation as alternate access paths are invoked, such as scans, and the CPU invested up to the point of the failure is wasted.

Db2 for z/OS also enables a Dynamic Statement Cache to be configured and tuned. It permits dynamic SQL prepare information to be cached in memory to optimize dynamic SQL. 

Another consideration to keep in mind is Query Parallelism, which refers to the ability of Db2 to execute multiple query tasks concurrently, leveraging multiple CPU cores. Enabling parallelism can significantly speed up query execution for resource-intensive workloads. The degree of parallelism, controlled by parameters like DFT_DEGREE and NUM_INIT_AGENTS, should be set based on the available hardware resources and workload characteristics. Careful tuning of these parameters ensures optimal parallel query execution without overloading the system.

Tuning Db2 Sort operations is also critical. During query execution sorting can consume significant memory resources. The sort heap is responsible for allocating memory for sort operations. Tuning the Db2 LUW SORTHEAP parameter to an appropriate size based on the complexity of sort operations and available memory helps avoid  excessive disk I/O and improves query performance. Regular monitoring and adjustment of SORTHEAP ensure efficient memory utilization for sort operations.

Statement Concentration is another configuration parameter to consider. It controls the consolidation of multiple SQL statements into a single unit of work. Enabling statement concentration reduces the overhead associated with parsing and optimizing individual statements, improving overall performance. By setting appropriate values for parameters like STMT_CONC and STMTHEAP, administrators can optimize statement concentration based on the workload and resource availability.

Connection and Maximum settings are also crucial to consider. For example, in Db2 for z/OS MAXDBAT sets the maximum number of database agents and Db2 LUW uses MAXAPPLS to define the maximum number of concurrent application connections. And an example of a setting that can control maximums is DSMAX (Db2 for z/OS) that can be set between 1 and 200000; it controls the maximum number of underlying data sets that Db2 can have open at any point.

It is important to note that tuning these configuration parameters should be done carefully and based on workload analysis and performance monitoring. The optimal settings may vary depending on the specific requirements and characteristics of the database environment. Regular monitoring of performance metrics, workload patterns, and system behavior is crucial to identify areas for tuning and ensure continued optimization.


In conclusion, configuration parameter tuning is a critical aspect of optimizing the performance of an IBM Db2 database. By understanding the impact of key parameters and adjusting them based on workload characteristics, administrators can fine-tune the system for optimal performance. 

We have only taken a high-level look at several configuration considerations and parameters in this blog post. But keep in mind that the configuration parameters and their settings contribute to an efficient and high-performing Db2 environment. Regular monitoring and tuning of these parameters help achieve optimal performance and responsiveness in the database system.

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Top 10 Db2 Performance Tips - No. 6 Monitoring and Performance Metrics

Monitoring and measuring performance metrics are essential practices for maintaining and optimizing the performance of an IBM Db2 environment. By regularly monitoring and analyzing performance data, DBAs can identify bottlenecks, proactively address performance issues, and make informed decisions to improve overall system efficiency.

It is important to monitor and measure performance metrics in order to gain insights into the behavior of the applications and databases in use at your site. By examining their behavior and identifying areas for improvement, you can improve the overall satisfaction of your customers and end users. 

Performance metrics provide valuable information about resource utilization, query response times, disk I/O, CPU usage, and other critical aspects of database performance. By tracking these metrics over time, administrators can detect patterns, identify trends, and pinpoint potential performance bottlenecks.

A Strategy

The first part of any Db2 performance management strategy should be to provide a comprehensive approach to the monitoring of the Db2 subsystems operating at your site. This approach involves monitoring not only the threads accessing Db2 and the SQL they issue, but also the Db2 address spaces. You can accomplish this task in three ways:

  • Batch reports run against DB2 trace records. While DB2 is running, you can activate traces that accumulate information, which can be used to monitor both the performance of the DB2 subsystem and the applications being run.
  • Online access to DB2 trace information and DB2 control blocks. This type of monitoring also can provide information on DB2 and its subordinate applications.
  • Sampling DB2 application programs as they run and analyzing which portions of the code use the most resources.
Using all three approaches can be a reasonable approach if you have analyzed the type of workloads in use and which types of monitoring are most effective for each. 
You also need to establish a strategy for your organization's tuning goals. And your tuning goals should be set using the discipline of service level management (SLM). A service level is a measure of operational behavior. SLM ensures applications behave accordingly by applying resources to those applications based on their importance to the organization. Depending on the needs of the organization, SLM can focus on availability, performance, or both. In terms of availability, the service level can be defined as “99.95% up time, during the hours of 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM on weekdays.” Of course, a service level can be more specific, stating “average response time for transactions will be two seconds or less for workloads of strategic external clients.”

For a service level agreement (SLA) to be successful, all of the parties involved must agree upon stated objectives for availability and performance. The end users must be satisfied with the performance of their applications, and the DBAs and technicians must be content with their ability to manage the system to the objectives. Compromise is essential to reach a useful SLA.

Furthermore, the objectives of the SLA must be defined and measurable. For example, in the earlier SLA you must define what a “strategic client” is and differentiate strategic from nonstrategic. Although doing this may be difficult, failing to do so can result in worthless SLAs that cannot be achieved.

In the end, if you do not identify service levels for each transaction, then you will always be managing to an unidentified requirement. Without a predefined and agreed upon SLA, how will the DBA and the end users know whether an application is performing adequately? Without SLAs, business users and DBAs might have different expectations, resulting in unsatisfied business executives and frustrated DBAs. Not a good situation.

Db2 Traces

One of the first types of performance metrics to consider is monitoring based on reading trace information. You can think of a Db2 trace as a window into the performance characteristics of aspects of your Db2 workload. Db2 traces record diagnostic information describing particular events. As Db2 operates, it writes trace information that can be read and analyzed to obtain performance information.

Db2 provides six types of traces, and each describes information about the Db2 environment:

  • Accounting - Records performance information about the execution of DB2 application programs
  • Audit - Provides information about DB2 DDL, security, ­utilities, and data modification
  • Global - Provides information for the servicing of DB2
  • Monitor - Records data useful for online monitoring of the DB2 subsystem and DB2 application programs
  • Performance - Collects detailed data about DB2 events, enabling database and performance analysts to pinpoint the causes of performance problems
  • Statistics - Records information regarding the DB2 subsystem’s use of resources

You can start Db2 traces in two ways: by specifying the appropriate DSNZPARMs at Db2 startup or by using the -START TRACE command to initiate specific traces when Db2 is already running.

Each trace is broken down further into classes, each of which provides information about aspects of that trace. Additional informatiohn about the classes for each type of trace can be found here, here, and here.

You should understand what type of information is traced and the approximate overhead of each trace class before starting any of the Db2 traces. Some traces are better left off until or unless a performance problem is occurring, at which point, the trace can be started to capture details about the situation. Others are better to have turned on before problems occur. Keep in mind that you will have some trace classes (and IFCIDs) that are always started, and other that are only used in emergencies.

What are IFCIDs?

Each trace class is associated with specific trace events known as Instrumentation Facility Component Identifier (IFCIDs), pronounced “if-kid.” An IFCID defines a record that represents a trace event. IFCIDs are the single smallest unit of tracing that can be invoked
by Db2.

In some cases, it can make sense to avoid activating trace classes altogether and start traces specifying only the IFCIDs needed. This way, you can reduce the overhead associated with tracing by recording only the trace events needed. 

There are several hundred different IFCIDs. Most IFCIDs contain data fields that describe events pertinent to the event being traced. Some IFCIDs have no data; instead they merely mark a specific time. Certain trace events of extended durations require a pair of IFCIDs: one for the beginning of the event and another for the end. These pairs enable the computation of elapsed times. Other trace events that are not as lengthy require only a single IFCID. 

You can find the IFCIDs associated with each trace class in the IBM Db2Command Reference manual in the section describing the -START TRACE command. But that manual does not describe the purpose of each IFCID. A list describing each IFCID can be found in the data set named  SDSNIVPD(DSNWMSGS), which is part of the Db2 installation

Db2 Performance Monitors

Several popular performance monitoring solutions are available for Db2 for z/OS. IBM’s Omegamon, BMC Software’s MainView, Broadcom’s Sysview, and Rocket Software's TMON are the leading performance monitors. When selecting a performance monitor, be sure to examine the online components as well as the batch reporting capabilities of the monitor. 

An online performance monitor is a tool that provides real-time reporting on Db2 performance statistics as Db2 operates. In contrast, a batch performance monitor reads previously generated trace records from an input data set. Most performance monitors today can be used to serve both purposes.

With online DB2 performance monitors, you can perform proactive performance management tasks. In other words, you can set up the monitor such that when it detects a problem it alerts a DBA and possibly takes actions on its own to resolve the problem.

The most common way to provide online performance monitoring capabilities is by online access to DB2 trace information in the MONITOR trace class. Some online DB2 performance monitors also provide direct access to Db2 performance data by reading the control blocks of the Db2 and application address spaces. This type of monitoring provides a “window” to up-to-the-minute performance statistics while Db2 runs. This information is important if a quick reaction to performance problems is required.

Most online Db2 performance monitors provide a menu-driven interface accessible from TSO or VTAM. It enables online performance monitors to start and stop traces as needed based on the menu options chosen by the user. Consequently, you can reduce overhead and diminish the learning curve involved in understanding Db2 traces and their correspondence to performance reports.

Following are some typical uses of online performance monitors. Many online performance monitors can establish effective exception-based monitoring. When specified performance thresholds are reached, triggers can offer notification and take action. For example, you could set a trigger when the number of lock suspensions for the TXN00002 plan is reached; when the trigger is activated, a message is sent to the console, and a batch report is generated to provide accounting detail information for the plan. You can set any number of triggers for many thresholds. Following are some examples of thresholds you might choose to set:

  • When a buffer pool threshold is reached (PREFETCH DISABLED, DEFERRED WRITE THRESHOLD, or DM CRITICAL THRESHOLD).
  • For critical transactions, when predefined performance objectives are not met. For example, if TXN00001 requires subsecond response time, set a trigger to notify a DBA when the transaction receives a class 1 accounting elapsed time exceeding 1 second by more than 25%.
  • Many types of thresholds can be established. Most online monitors support this capability. As such, you can customize the thresholds for the needs of your DB2 environment.

Most online performance monitors can produce real-time EXPLAINs for long-running SQL statements. If an SQL statement takes a significant amount of time to process, an analyst can display the SQL statement as it executes and dynamically issue an EXPLAIN for the statement. Even as the statement executes, an understanding of why it takes so long to run can be achieved. A complete discussion of the EXPLAIN statement is provided in the next chapter.

Some online performance monitors provide historical trending. These monitors track performance statistics and store them in DB2 tables or in VSAM files with a timestamp. They also provide the capability to query these stores of performance data to assist in the following:

  • Analyzing recent history. Most SQL statements execute quickly, making difficult the job of capturing and displaying information about the SQL statement as it executes. However, you might not want to wait until the SMF data is available to run a batch report. Quick access to recent past-performance data in these external data stores provides a type of online monitoring that is as close to real time as is usually needed.
  • Determining performance trends, such as a transaction steadily increasing in its CPU consumption or elapsed time.
  • Performing capacity planning based on a snapshot of the recent performance of DB2 applications.
Some monitors also run when Db2 is down to provide access to the historical data accumulated by the monitor.

A final benefit of online DB2 performance monitors is their capability to interface with other z/OS monitors for IMS/TM, CICS, z/OS, or VTAM. This way, an analyst gets a view of the entire spectrum of system performance. Understanding and analyzing the data from each of these monitors, however, requires a different skill. Quite often, one person cannot master all these monitors


Although this blog entry was brief, and there are many additional aspects to Db2 performance monitoring, monitoring and measuring performance metrics should be viewed as a vital requirement for all organizations using Db2 databases. By collecting and analyzing performance data, DBAs can detect performance bottlenecks, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions to enhance overall system efficiency. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Top 10 Db2 Performance Tips - No. 5 Workload Management and Query Optimization

Managing workloads and optimizing queries are essential tasks for maximizing the performance of a Db2 databases and the applications that access them. By employing effective techniques, DBAs and performance analysts can streamline query execution, reduce resource contention, and enhance overall system efficiency.

The application code itself must be designed appropriately and monitored for efficiency. In fact, many experts agree that as much as 70 to 80 percent of performance problems are caused by improperly coded database applications. SQL is the primary culprit. Coding efficient SQL statements can be complicated. Developers need to be taught how to properly formulate SQL statements and SQL statements must be constantly monitored and tuned.

Query Rewriting

One technique for workload management and query optimization is query rewriting. Query rewriting involves modifying the structure or logic of a query to achieve better performance. This can include simplifying complex expressions, reordering join operations, or breaking down a single complex query into multiple simpler queries. By understanding the underlying data model and query requirements, you can rewrite queries to optimize execution plans and improve overall performance.

With that in mind, it is important to understand that Db2 itself can perform query rewrite as part of the optimization process. The query compiler can rewrite SQL and XQuery statements into different forms to improve optimization. 

Of course, you (as a developer or tuner) can still make changes to SQL to try to influence the optimizer to achieve different (and hopefully better) access paths. 

SQL, by its very nature, is quite flexible. It uses a free-form structure that gives the user the ability to develop SQL statements in a way best suited to each user. Each SQL request is parsed by Db2 during compilation and optimization before it is executed to check for proper syntax and to optimize the request. 

Therefore, SQL statements do not need to start in any given column and can be strung together on one line or broken apart on several lines. Any SQL request could beformulated in a number of different but functionally equivalent ways. SQL’s flexibility makes it intrinsically simple, but flexibility can complicate performance management because different but equivalent SQL formulations can result in variable performance. 

When you are writing your SQL statements to access Db2 data, keep in mind that you should look at various different ways to formulate the same query to see which one performs best. For example, you might change a BETWEEN predicate to two predicates using <= and >=. This is one simple example and many different things can change an access path, so be creative and test different ways of using SQL to request the same data.

Use EXPLAIN to Examine Access Paths

Programmers need to be schooled in the practice of examining SQL access paths. Using EXPLAIN and querying the resutls allows developers to request information on how the optimizer will satisfy each query. Will an index be used? In what order will the tables be joined? Will the query be broken up into parallel tasks or not? 

Of course, you may want to use a Visual Explain tool to look at access paths visually instead of querying complex and sometimes arcane data in plan tables. For example, IBM Data Studio offers a Visual Explain capability (as do other tools).

A few guidelines to consider:

  • Always bind every production program using EXPLAIN YES. This will ensure that the access path details are externalized if/when you need to review them should performance issues arise.
  • Ensure that application developers understand EXPLAIN and have access to plan table data when testing new code. Catching problematic access paths in test is clearly better than waiting for the problems to surface in production.
  • Make sure that all Db2 developers have access to tools for reviewing and examining access paths and explain information (e.g. Data Studio).

Fundamental SQL Guidelines

These and many other factors influence the efficiency of SQL. Not all application problems are due to improperly coded SQL. The host language application code in which the SQL has been embedded also can be inefficient, causing database application performance to suffer.

These are, however, three simple but important rules to follow when writing your SQL statements for performance. Of course, SQL performance is a complex topic and to understand every nuance of how SQL performs can take alifetime. That said, adhering to the following simple rules puts you on the right track to achieving high-performing Db2 applications.

First, always provide only the exact columns that you need to retrieve in the SELECT-list of each SQL SELECT statement. A common way of stating this is “do not use SELECT *”. The shorthand SELECT * means retrieve all columns from the table(s) being accessed. Using SELECT * may be fine for quick and dirty queries but it is a bad practice for inclusion in application programs because:

  • Db2 tables may need to be changed in the future to include additional columns. SELECT * in production programs will retrieve those new columns, too, and your program may not be capable of handling the additional data without requiring time-consuming changes.

  • Db2 consumes additional resources for every column that is requested to be returned. If the program does not need the data, it should not ask for it. Even if the program needs every column, it is better to explicitly ask for each column by name in the SQL statement for clarity and to avoid the previous pitfall.

Secondly, do not ask for what you already know. This may sound simplistic, but most programmers violate this rule at one time or another. For example,consider what is wrong with this simple query:


    FROM   EMP


    AND    DEPTNO = 'D01';

Look at the SELECT-list. There are four columns specified but only two of them are needed. We know that JOB_CODE will always be A and DEPTNO will always be D01 because we told Db2 to only return those rows using the WHERE clauses. So do not ask Db2 to return that data... you already know it!

Every column that Db2 must and return to the program adds overhead. It may be a small amount of overhead, but if this statement runs many times during the day (hundreds, or even thousands, of times), that small overhead adds up to significant overhead. 

And thirdly, use the WHERE clause to filter data in the SQL instead of bringing it all into your program to filter. This too is a common rookie mistake. It is much better for Db2 to filter the data before returning it to your program. This is so because Db2 requires additional I/O and CPU resources to obtain each row of data. The fewer rows passed to your program, the more efficient your SQL will be.

Query Hints and Tweaking

The use of query hints is another approach to query optimization. Hints provide directives to the optimizer on how to execute a specific query, influencing the choice of access paths, join strategies, or join orders. By carefully selecting and applying query hints, you can guide the optimizer's decisions and ensure optimal query execution plans. There are three types of hints:

  1. One type of hint is to modify the query in some way to encourage (or force) the optimizer to choose a different access path. This is often called tweaking the SQL. For example, you might choose to append OR 0 = 1 to a predicate to cause Db2 to avoid using an index.

  2. A second type of hint is to give the optimizer quidance as to the number of rows that will be returned using OPTIMIZE FOR n ROWS. In that case, instead of using the database statistics it will use the guidance you provide.

  3. Another type of hint, which is much better, is to explicitly use the hint capabilities of Db2 to force a particular query to use a specific, pre-determined access path.

In any case, it is important to use hints judiciously, as excessive or unnecessary hints may hinder the optimizer's ability to adapt to changing data or system conditions.

Additional Techniques and Tools

As part of ensuring an optimal SQL environment it is important that DBAs first setup an effective environment that is properly implemented and administered. This includes establishing standard methods for appropriate indexing, regular statistics collection, and setting database configuration parameters approrpriately to optimize query performance. 

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to assure optimal performance of your database applications is to create the correct indexes for your tables. Indexing appropriately on frequently queried columns can significantly improve query execution times. Regularly collecting and updating statistics ensures that the optimizer has accurate information to make informed decisions. Optimizing database configuration parameters, such as query parallelism or memory settings, can also have a significant impact on workload management and query performance.

Managing the performance of your database applications requires in-depth monitoring. Be sure to allocate an appropriate budget to acquire performance management tools to ensure the efficiency of your database systems.

Query optimization tools are valuable assets for managing workloads and improving query performance. These tools provide insights into query execution plans, access paths, and performance statistics. They allow database administrators to analyze query performance, identify potential bottlenecks, and make informed decisions for optimization. 

Moreover, workload management techniques such as query prioritization, resource allocation, and concurrency control contribute to efficient query execution. Prioritizing critical queries, allocating resources based on workload importance, and managing concurrency effectively help ensure that high-priority queries receive the necessary resources and are processed efficiently.

Summing Things Up

In conclusion, managing workloads and optimizing queries are crucial aspects of maximizing the performance of your Db2 database and applications. Techniques such as applying fundamentail query development methods, query rewriting, the use of hints, and leveraging query optimization tools can significantly enhance query performance. Additionally, employing indexing strategies, collecting accurate statistics, and configuring database parameters contribute to efficient workload management. By implementing these techniques, DBAs, develoeprs, and performance analysts can streamline query execution, improve system responsiveness, and achieve optimal performance in their Db2 environments.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Top 10 Db2 Performance Tips - No. 4 Effective Memory Configuration

The memory configuration of an IBM Db2 environment plays a critical role in determining the performance of applications accessing data, as well as the overall efficiency of the subsystem and DBMS. By properly allocating and managing memory resources, DBAs and systems programmers can significantly enhance the system's responsiveness and query execution speed.

One of the primary areas of memory configuration is the allocation of buffer pools, as well as other pools of memory. Db2 for z/OS uses memory for buffer pools, the EDM pool, RID pool and sort pools to cache data and structures in memory. The better memory is allocated to these structures, the better Db2 and applications that access it will perform. 

Buffer pools act as a cache for frequently accessed data pages, reducing disk I/O and improving query performance. Allocating an appropriate amount of memory to buffer pools is crucial to ensure that frequently accessed data remains in memory, readily available for query processing. By monitoring workload patterns and adjusting the buffer pool sizes accordingly, database administrators can optimize memory utilization and minimize disk I/O.

When allocating Db2 buffer pools, keep these rules of thumb in mind:

  • Don't allocate everything to a single buffer pool (e.g., BP0); use a multiple buffer pool strategy.
  • Explicitly specify a buffer pool for every table space and index. Don't simply let Db2 choose a default buffer pool by failing to specify one.
  • Isolate the Db2 Catalog in BP0 (and BP8K0 and BP16K0 ); put user and application Db2 objects into other buffer pools.
  • Consider separating indexes from table spaces with each in their own dedicated buffer pools.
  • Consider isolating heavily hit data into its own buffer pool to better control performance.
  • Consider isolating sorts into a single buffer pool and tuning it for mostly sequential access (e.g. BP7).
  • Consider separating Db2 objects into separate buffer pools that have been configured for sequential verses random access.

Forget about trying to follow a cookie-cutter approach to buffer pool management. Every shop must create and optimize a buffer pool strategy for its own data and application mix. DB2 offers several buffer pool tuning "knobs" that can be used to configure virtual buffer pools to the type of processing they support. The following parameters all can be changed using the ALTER BUFFERPOOL command:

DWQT – this value is the deferred write threshold; it is expressed as a percentage of the virtual buffer pool that might be occupied by unavailable pages. When this threshold is reached Db2 will start to schedule write I/Os to externalize data. The default is 30%, which is likely to be too high for most shops.

VDWQT – this value is the vertical deferred write threshold; it is basically the same as DWQT, but for individual data sets. The default is 10%, which once again is quite likely to be too high for many shops.

VPSEQT – this value is the sequential steal threshold; it is a expressed as a percentage of the virtual buffer pool that can be occupied by sequentially accessed pages. Tune buffer pools for sequential access (such as scans and sorting) by modifying VPSEQT to a larger value. The default is 80%.

VPPSEQT – this value is the sequential steal threshold for parallel operations; the default value is 50% of VPSEQT.

VPXPSEQT – this value is assisting parallel sequential threshold; it is basically the VPPSEQT for operations from another Db2 subsystem in the data sharing group.

You can tune these parameters, as well as the size of the buffer pools, to accommodate the usage patterns of your Db2 applications. 

Consider modifying the deferred write threshold parameters to enable trickle write; that means lower values that will cause changed data to be written to disk more frequently, instead of waiting for a system checkpoint to occur. 

Furthermore, think about modifying the sequential steal thresholds for the type of data being buffered; if that data is mostly sequentially accessed, then increase these thresholds… if the data is mostly randomly accessed, then decrease these thresholds. Of course, these are basic, high-level guidelines that you will need to study before adjusting them at your shop.

The PGSTEAL parameter also can be adjusted to modify the manner in which the buffer pool steals pages when new data arrives and there is no space for it. There are three options: 

  • LRU, 
  • FIFO, and 
  • NONE. 

The typical option is LRU, or least recently used. This will cause the oldest pages (in terms of when they were last accessed) to be stolen before newer pages. An alternate approach is FIFO, or first in/first out. With this approach there is no need for Db2 to monitor when the data was last accessed to determine which the least-recently pages. FIFO can reduce CPU usage (no LRU algorithm needed) and works well if the data is read once and never accessed again. The final option, NONE, is a special case to be used when a buffer pool is large enough to hold all of the data assigned to it so no page stealing is needed. When NONE is specified, Db2 will pre-load the buffer pool when the objects are opened, basically creating an in-memory area for the data. 

You can also use the PGFIX parameter to fix buffer pool pages in real storage. Doing so avoids the processing time that DB2 needs to fix and free pages for every I/O operation. This can reduce CPU for bufferpools involved in very intensive I/O applications.

Other Memory Considerations

In addition to buffer pools, Db2 uses memory for other purposes. The first we will examine is the EDM pool. EDM stands for Environmental Descriptor Manager. The EDM pool is used for caching internal structures used by Db2 programs. This includes DBDs, SKCTs, CTs, SKPTs, and PTs. It also includes the authorization cache for plans and packages, as well as the cache for dynamic SQL mini-plans.

Although it is common to refer to the EDM pool in the singular, Db2 actually breaks the EDM pool into separate pools for DBDs, for the dynamic statement cache, and for the program elements (CTs, SKCTs, PTs, SKPTs). Tuning the size of these structures to facilitate the processing requirements of your applications is crucial to ensuring optimal performance.

As a general rule of thumb, shoot for an 80 percent hit rate with the EDM pools; this means that only one out every five times should a structure need to be loaded from disk into the EDM pool.

Db2 also uses a pool to help with specific types of access paths called the RID poolThe RID pool is used by Db2 to store RIDs (record identifiers) for List Prefetch, Multiple Index Access, and Hybrid Join access paths.  RID pool failures can cause performance degradation as alternate access paths are invoked, such as scans, and the CPU invested up to the point of the failure is wasted. Not to mention that the scan usually will not perform as well as an indexed access!

Another aspect of memory configuration is sort memory. Sort operations are commonly performed during query execution, such as order by, group by, or distinct operations. Allocating sufficient memory for sort operations reduces the need for temporary disk storage, which can significantly impact query performance. It is important to allocate an appropriate amount of memory for sort operations based on the workload requirements, ensuring efficient sorting and minimizing disk I/O. Failure to provide sufficient memory for sorts can cause performance degradations can impact elapsed times dramatically and sort failures can terminate a statement.

In addition to specific memory allocations, it is important to consider the overall memory availability and system-wide settings. Ensuring that Db2 has access to an adequate amount of system memory prevents excessive swapping or paging, which can severely degrade performance. Adjusting system-wide memory parameters, such as the maximum memory target, can help fine-tune the overall memory allocation for Db2.

Regular monitoring of memory usage and performance metrics is crucial for effective memory configuration. By analyzing memory-related statistics and performance indicators, DBAs and performance analysts can identify potential bottlenecks or areas where memory resources may be over or underutilized. Proactive monitoring allows for timely adjustments to memory configuration to optimize performance.

Summing It Up

By allocating memory resources efficiently, including buffer pools, EDM pools, sort memory, and so on, you can minimize disk I/O, reduce contention, and enhance query execution speed. Regular monitoring and tuning of memory settings based on workload patterns and system-wide considerations contribute to a well-optimized Db2 environment with improved responsiveness and overall performance.

Finally, remember that tuning the memory structures of Db2 is in-depth subject that cannot be adequately covered in-depth in a blog post such as this. So, study those IBM Db2 manuals - and learn by doing.