Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Managing DB2 for z/OS Application Performance

Applications that access databases are only as good as the performance they achieve. And every user wants their software to run as fast as possible. As such, performance tuning and management is one of the biggest demands on the DBA’s time. When asked what is the single most important or stressful aspect of their job, DBAs typically respond “assuring optimal performance.” Indeed, a recent Forrester Research survey indicates that “performance and troubleshooting” tops the list of most challenging DBA tasks.
But when you are dealing with data in a database management system there are multiple interacting components that must be managed and tuned to achieve optimal performance. That is, every database application, at its core, requires three components to operate:
  • the system (that is, the DBMS itself, the network, and the O/S),
  • the database (that is, the DDL and database schema), and
  • the application (that is, the SQL and program logic).
Each of these components requires care and attention, but today I want to focus on the high-level aspects of performance management from the perspective of the application. Furthermore, I will discuss this in terms of DB2 for z/OS.

So where do we begin? For DB2, a logical starting point is with BIND Parameters. There are many parameters and values that must be chosen from and specified when you bind a DB2 application program. The vast array of options at our disposal can render the whole process extremely confusing – especially if you don’t bind on a daily basis. And even if you do, some of the options still might be confusing if you rarely have to change them. You know what I’m talking about, parameters like ACQUIRE, RELEASE, VALIDATE, and DEGREE.

I will not delve into the myriad bind options as there are many articles and books, as well as the IBM DB2 manuals that you can use to guide you along that path. Suffice it to say, that there are some standard parameters and values that should be chosen “most of the time” in certain situations. As such, a wise DBA group will set up canned routines for the programmers to use for compiling and binding their applications. Choices such as: “CICS transaction”, “DB2 batch”, or “analytical query” can be presented to the developer and then, based on which of the various types of programs and environments that are available, the canned script can choose the proper bind options. Doing so can greatly diminish the problems that can be encountered when the “wrong” parameters or values are chosen at bind time.

This same process can be put in place for production binding to ensure that the appropriate parameters and values are chosen. This is especially useful when the binds are not done by a DBA, but are automated in production or done by a less-experienced change control clerk.

Of course, there should always be a method for over-riding the “standard” values for special situations, although these overrides should not be available to anyone other than a well-trained individual (DBA or otherwise).

I want to make one small exception here regarding advice on bind parameters, and that is the EXPLAIN parameter. In production, always bind your plans and packages specifying EXPLAIN YES. Failing to do so means that access paths will be generated, but you will not know what they are. This is akin to blinding yourself to what DB2 is doing and is not advisable.

Access Path Management

Bind and Rebind are important components to achieve optimal DB2 application performance. Bind/Rebind determine the access paths to the data that is accessed by your program. As such, it is vital that you develop an appropriate strategy for when and how to Rebind your programs.

There are several common approaches taken by DB2 users. By far, the best approach is to Rebind your applications over time as the data changes. This approach involves some form of regular maintenance that keeps DB2 statistics up to date and formulates new access paths as data volumes and patterns change. More on this in a moment.

Other approaches include Rebinding only when a new version of DB2 is installed, or perhaps more ambitious, whenever new PTFs are applied to DB2. Another approach is to rebind automatically after a regular period of time, whether it is days, weeks, months, or whatever period of time you deem significant. This approach can work if the period of time is wisely chosen based on the application data – but it still can pose significant administrative issues.

The final approach is from the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school of thought. This approach is the worst of the several approaches discussed here. This approach penalizes every program for fear that a single program (or two) might experience a degraded access path. Yet, the possibility of degraded performance is real. That is why this approach has been adopted at some sites. The problem is being able to find which statements may be worse. The ideal situation would be to be able to review the access path changes before hand to determine if they are better or worse. But DB2 itself does not provide any systematic method of administering access paths that way. There are third party tools that can help you achieve this though.
Anyway, let’s go back to the best approach again, and that is to Rebind regularly as your data changes. This involves what is known as the three Rs: REORG, RUNSTATS, and Rebind. At any rate, your goal should be to keep your access paths up-to-date with the current state of your data. Failing to do this means that DB2 is accessing data based upon false assumptions.

By Rebinding you will generally improve the overall performance of your applications because the access paths will be better designed based on an accurate view of the data. And as you apply changes to DB2 (new releases/PTFs) optimizer improvements and new access techniques can be used. If you never Rebind, not only are you forgoing better access paths due to data changes but you are also forgoing better access paths due to changes to DB2 itself.

To adopt the Three R’s you need to determine when to REORG. This means looking at either RUNSTATS or Real-Time Statistics (RTS). So, perhaps we need at least 4 R’s:

  1. Real Time Statistics (or RUNSTATS)
  2. REORG

But is this enough? Probably not because we need to review the access paths after rebinding to make sure that there are no rogue access paths. So, let’s add another “R” – to Review the access paths generated by the REBIND. As we mentioned, the optimizer can make mistakes. And, of course, so can you. Users don't call you when performance is better (or the same). But if performance gets worse, you can bet on getting a call from irate users.

So we need to put in place best practices whereby we test Rebind results to compare the before and after impact of the optimizer’s choices. Only then can we assure that we are achieving optimal DB2 application performance.

Tuning The Code Itself

Of course, everything we’ve discussed so far assumes that the code is written efficiently to begin with – and that is a big assumption. We also need to make sure that we are implementing efficient application code. The application code consists of two parts: the SQL code and the host language code in which the SQL is embedded.

SQL is simple to learn and easy to start using. But SQL tuning and optimization is an art that takes years to master. Some general rules of thumb for creating efficient SQL statements include:
  • Let SQL do the work instead of the application program. For example, code an SQL join instead of two cursors and a programmatic join.
  • Simpler is generally better, but complex SQL can be very efficient.
  • Retrieve only the columns required, never more.
  • Retrieve the absolute minimum number of rows by specifying every WHERE clause that is appropriate.
  • When joining tables, always provide join predicates. In other words, avoid Cartesian products.
  • Favor using Stage 1 and Indexable predicates.
  • Avoid sorting if possible by creating indexes for ORDER BY, GROUP BY, and DISTINCT operations.
  • Avoid black boxes – that is, avoid I/O routines that are called by programs instead of using embedded SQL.
  •  Avoid deadlocks by updating tables in the same sequence in every program.
  • Issue data modification statements (INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE) as close as possible to the COMMIT statement as possible.
  • Be sure to build a COMMIT strategy into every batch program that changes data. Failing to COMMIT can cause locking problems.
To tune SQL the DBA must be able to interpret the output of the access paths produced by EXPLAIN. This information is encoded in the PLAN_TABLEs. IBM and other vendors offer tools to simplify this process, such as IBM's Data Studio.

Finally, some attention must be paid to the host language code. Host language code refers to the application programs written in C, COBOL, Java, Visual Basic or the programming language du jour. SQL statements are usually embedded into host language code and it is quite possible to have finely tuned SQL inside of inefficient host language code. And, of course, that would cause a performance problem.

The Bottom Line

Although DBAs must understand all three aspects of database performance management concentrating on the application aspects of performance will most likely provide the most bang-for-the-buck. Of course, we have only touched the tip of the DB2 application performance iceberg today. But even this high-level view into application performance can serve as a nice starting place for tuning your DB2 applications.

Good luck with DB2 for z/OS and happy performance tuning! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Don’t Forget About DB2 Session Variables

Session variables, set by DB2 or by the user, offer another way to provide additional information to applications. Session variables are set by DB2, and are accessible to application programs and end users. By accessing session variables, an application program can determine many aspects of its environment and the DB2 features in effect.

There are a plethora of session variables available to the DB2 programmer as outlined in the accompanying table. 

Table 1. DB2 Session Variables.
 Session Variable
The application encoding scheme specified for the subsystem. 
The string delimiter. Value will be DEFAULT, , or .
Name of the data sharing group.
The date format in use. Value will be ISO, JIS, USA, EUR, or LOCAL.
The LOCAL DATE LENGTH install parameter. Value is 10-254, or 0 for no exit.
The DECIMAL ARITHMETIC install parameter. Value is DEC15, DEC31, 15, or 31.
The DECIMAL POINT install parameter. Value is ‘.’ or ‘,’.
The DECFLOAT ROUNDING MODE install parameter.
The value of GROUP ATTACH field on the DSNTIPK installation panel or the SUBSYSTEM NAME field on the DSNTIPM installation panel. 
The LANGUAGE DEFAULT install parameter. Value is ASM, C, CPP, IBMCOB, FORTRAN, or PL/I.

The value of LOCALE LC_CTYPE install parameter.
The fully qualified data set name of the data set from which the DSNHDECP or a user-specified application defaults module was loaded. 

The USE FOR DYNAMICRULES install parameter. Value is YES or NO.
The DEF ENCODING SCHEME install parameter. Value is EBCDIC, ASCII, or UNICODE.
The MIXED DATA install parameter. Value is YES or NO.
The INSTALL TYPE parameter. Value is INSTALL, UPDATE, MIGRATE, or ENFM; reflects the setting of the DSNHDECP variable NEWFUN.

Name of the package currently in use.
Version of the current package.
Schema name of the current package.
 The PAD NUL-TERMINATED install parameter. Value is YES or NO.
Name of the plan currently being run.
The user’s security label (if any); null if not defined.
The SQL STRING DELIMITER install parameter. Value is DEFAULT, or 
DB2 subsystem identifier.
The STD SQL LANGUAGE install parameter. Value is YES or NO.
Name of the system, as defined in field SUBSYSTEM NAME on installation panel DSNTIPM.
A comma-delimited string of the ASCII CCSIDs in use on this system.
A comma-delimited string of the EBCDIC CCSIDs in use on this system.
A comma-delimited string of the UNICODE CCSIDs in use on this system.

The TIME FORMAT install parameter. Value is ISO, JIS, USA, EUR, or LOCAL.
The LOCAL TIME LENGTH install parameter. Value is 8-254, or 0 for no exit.
Version of the DB2 subsystem. This value is a string, formatted as pppvvrrm where:

  • ppp is a product string set to the value ‘DSN’.
  • vv is a two-digit version identifier such as ‘09’.
  • rr is a two-digit release identifier such as ‘01’.
  • m is a one-digit maintenance level identifier.

Each session variable must be qualified by SYSIBM. A built-in function named GETVARIABLE can retrieve session variable values. So, you could create a view based on a security label, for example:

  SELECT column-list
  FROM   table-name

The GETVARIABLE built-in function can be used in views, triggers, stored procedures, and constraints to enforce a security policy.

Users can add up to ten session variables by setting the name and value in their connection or sign-on exits. User-created session variables are qualified by SESSION. For example, the customer might have a connection or sign-on exit that examines the SQL user’s IP address, and maps the IP address to the user’s site within the company. This is recorded in a session variable, named say, USER_SITE. This session variable is then accessible using the built-in function, for example:


Using session variables much more information is available to application programs as they execute, and more control and security is provided, as well. Additionally, session variables can be trusted. They are set by DB2 and an application cannot modify them.

Monday, July 09, 2012

DB2 Hashing and Hash Organized Tables

Up until DB2 10, all DB2 data was retrieved using some form of indexing or scanning. With DB2 Version 10, a new access method called hashing is available. Of course, referring to hashing as “new” is somewhat disingenuous because it is an old, time-tested data processing technique. Indeed, IMS databases are founded upon hashing technology.

A hash, or hash function, is an algorithm that converts a defined set of data elements into a small number, usually a single integer that can serve as an index to an array or a storage location on disk. The values returned by a hash function are called hash values, hash sums, or simply hashes.

Figure 1 depicts basic hash functionality. Key values are processed by a hash algorithm (also known as a hash function, hash routine, or randomizer). The hash algorithm translates the key value into a storage location. When data is inserted the algorithm tells DB2 where to physically store the data; when data is accessed by the key, the algorithm tells DB2 where to find the data.

Figure 1.  How hashing operates.

Hashing is used primarily to optimize random I/O, such as for looking up a code table value or accessing a single row based on the value of its primary key. A hash access can outperform indexed access because fewer I/O operations are required to retrieve the data. The hash requires 1 I/O operations (possibly 2 if a hash collision occurs). An index requires at least 2 I/O operations, one to read the index page and one to read the data page. Of course, only the smallest of indexes consists of just a single root page; most consist of a root page, one or more non-leaf pages, and a leaf page, thereby requiring 3 or more I/O operations.

The traditional notion of clustering is not pertinent for hash organized tables. The data will be organized based on the hash algorithm. Index clustering is not permitted for tables that are hash organized.

The Hash Space

A hash space is a defined storage area used for organizing table data for hash access. Sufficient disk space must be allocated to the hash space to accommodate the hashed rows that will be added to the table. 

When the hash space is full, new rows will be relocated to the overflow index. As the amount of data in the overflow increases, hash access performance declines. This is so because DB2 must first go to the hashed location and then follow the pointer in the overflow index to find the data, thereby increasing the number of I/O operations required to retrieve the data. Refer to Figure 2 for an example. In this case, a new row for NEELD needs to be added, but there is no room in the hash space. So the hash space points to an overflow area where the new row can be stored.

Figure 2.  Hash overflow.

For this reason, a hash organized table might consume more disk space than a traditional table to minimize overflow rows.
Hash spaces can contain only a single table and must be defined in a universal table space — either partitioned by range or partitioned by growth. The hash overflow index for a table in a partition-by-range Universal table space will be a partitioned index. The hash overflow index for a table in a partition-by-growth Universal table space will be a non-partitioned index.

Creating Hash Organized Tables

Hash access can be specified for a table using the organization-clause of the CREATE TABLE statement: ORGANIZE BY HASH UNIQUE (column-names) HASH SPACE (hash-space-value).

The ORGANIZE BY HASH specification tells DB2 to use hashing for organizing the data of this table. The hash key is specified in the list of column names. By specifying UNIQUE, the table cannot contain more than one row with the same hash key value. And the HASH SPACE parameter defines the amount of fixed hash space to be pre-allocated for the table. For tables defined in a partition-by-range UTS, this space is for each partition.
Exercise care when specifying UNIQUE if the hash key can contain nulls. Although it is generally considered bad design for keys to contain nulls, columns specified as a hash key can be NULL. If the hash key can contain nulls and UNIQUE is also specified, all nulls for a column are considered equal. To clarify, if the hash key is a single nullable column, it can contain only one null.

For example, consider the following SQL that would create the sample DEPT table as a hash-organized table:

  MGRNO     CHAR(6),

Take care to specify a sufficient amount of storage for the hash space in the organization-clause. By doing so, the overflow index should have a small number of entries, or better yet, no entries at all. Hashing works best for tables that are static in size with limited growth (if any).

If you choose to convert an existing table to use hashing, be sure to walk through the following steps:
  1. Analyze each table you are considering for conversion. Look for static tables with unique keys that are frequently used for single fetch queries.
  2. Before replacing any existing indexes be sure that they are not used for range queries. Hashing is not used for range queries, so these indexes should not be dropped. Any index used solely for direct lookup can be dropped.
  3. Estimate the number of rows and average row size and calculate a sufficient hash space size.
  4. Issue the ALTER ADD organization-clause statement.
  5. Reorganize the table space specifying AUTOESTSPACE YES. Doing so allows DB2 to automatically estimate the best size for the hash space using real-time statistics.
  6. REBIND any applications using SQL with equality predicates on the hash key.

After converting, monitor real-time statistics to evaluate the table’s hash usage efficacy. In SYSIBM.SYSTABLESPACESTATS the REORGHASHACCESS column indicates the number of times that hash access was used to access the table. Furthermore, you can compare the REORGHASHACCESS column to the REORGSCANACCESS column to determine the number of time the table was accessed by the hash versus other techniques. You can also review the HASHLASTUSED column, which contains the date when hash access was last used for SELECT, FETCH, searched UPDATE, searched DELETE, or to enforce referential constraints.

In addition, be sure to verify that hash access is used where you expected. To accomplish this, check the ACCESSTYPE column of the PLAN_TABLE looking for the values H, HN, or MH—these indicate that hash access is used.

When to Use Hashing

Consider using hash organization for tables that are stable or predictable in size and where the data is accessed most often by its primary key (that is, the hash key). Hash-organized tables require an overflow index for rows that exceed the specified hash space. Rows in the overflow index are not hashed—DB2 must scan the index to retrieve rows in the overflow.

Table Space Size Options for Hashing

Choose the table space sizing options and parameters wisely for hash organized tables. Care must be taken to ensure that sufficient space is available for the hashing. For PBR Universal table spaces, be sure to specify an appropriate DSSIZE because it will be used to validate the hash space for each partition.

Consider specifying PRIQTY as –1 to allow DB2 to use the default primary space allocation. Furthermore, set DEFINE YES to ensure that the fixed table space is allocated successfully before the first access.

Free space also is an important consideration for hash organized table spaces. The PCTFREE specification is used by DB2 when the table space is reorganized with AUTOSPACE(YES) specification. DB2 uses the value of the DATASIZE column in the SYSIBM.SYSTABLESPACESTATS as the initial size of the hash table space, and increases that value by the value of PCTFREE to calculate the new size when you reorganize the table space.

Note:This blog post was adapted from the newly published 6th edition of Craig's best-selling book, DB2 Developer's Guide.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Cookbook for DB2 LUW Developers

I recently came across an interesting new book on DB2 for Linux, Unix, and Windows titled IBMDB2 9.7 Advanced Application Developer Cookbook. The book shakes up the typical technology book with a cookbook metaphor and succeeds in delivering the best of both of those approaches.

The authors, Sanjay Kumar and Mohankumar Saraswatipura, have obviously used the technology and clearly explain to the reader step-by-step tactics for tackling most of the important components of the DB2 application development life cycle. The book is divided into 9 chapters, each delivering a series of practical recipes for using, creating and managing various aspects of DB2 application programming. The recipes are well-written and easy to understand with lots of supporting code to guide you as you work through the recipe. The cover of the book references “over 70 practical recipes” but it sure seems like there are more than that.

The first chapter of the book covers recipes that focus on the application development enhancements made to DB2 9.7. This is an important chapter because sometimes new features get introduced so rapidly that developers do not get the chance to learn them before the next version comes out. Indeed, with DB2 10 being released in early April 2012, it is even more important to learn what DB2 9.7 added to the mix.

Other chapters I found quite useful were Chapter 5, which covers recipes for coding Java applications against DB2 databases; and Chapter 8 and 9, which covers recipes for monitoring and tuning your DB2 applications.

Of course, the trouble with recipes is that you rely on them when you want to make something specific. A book that contained a recipe for everything you ever wanted to do with DB2 is not practical though. You can, however, use many of the recipes as starting points for beginning the “dish” you wish to “cook” and then add to the recipe the additional “flourishes” you need to make the dish your own.

Whether you are a novice or a long-time DB2 coder this book will be helpful as you design, plan, develop, and optimize your DB2 9.7 applications and databases.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

IDUG DB2 Technical Conference 2012

The time is drawing near for this year’s North American IDUGDB2 Technical Conference . This year’s event is being held in Denver, CO the week of May 14-18, 2012. The IDUG conference planning committee has brewed up a wonderful agenda of educational sessions, presentations, and courses. Check ‘em all out online here. Whether you are a DBA, a developer, a or a systems programmer there are a plethora of learning opportunities. And there are sessions that run the gamut from DB2 for z/OS to DB2 LUW to data warehousing to Big Data to new version information and more! You can even try your hand at certification at the conference.

Even more importantly, IDUG offers a great chance to build and strengthen your DB2 network. You will meet everyone who is anyone at the IDUG conference. You can network with IBMers, consultants, and peers throughout the week at technical networking sessions and the products and services expo. And don’t forget the Dine Around where you can sign up to eat with your favorite DB2 experts.

One of my favorite stops every year is the IDUG book store, where you can browse the latest publications on DB2 and related technologies. I’m super excited about this year’s book store because the latest edition of my book, DB2 Developer’s Guide, covering through DB2 V10 will be available at the book store this year.

There is truly no other place where you can cram so much DB2 stuff into a week. So if you rely on DB2 in your professional life, the IDUGDB2 Technical Conference is the place to be.