Six Reasons to Review your Database Availability – Part 4 Regulatory and Compliance Issues

From working with many customers to help keep their critical databases up and running we have come up with the top 6 reasons for putting Database Availability at the top of your priority list. In this blog we look at Regulatory and Compliance Issues:

Regulatory and Compliance issues are of particular interest to the banking and financial services sector. In such a highly regulated sector, organisations are under real pressure to ensure that customers are able to access services.

A widely publicised ruling in 2012 by the Financial Conduct Authority saw RBS fined £56m as a result of software issues which left millions of customers unable to access their accounts. A massive 6.5 million customers were affected by the outage which was caused by a failure in a piece of batch scheduling software.

In 2016, Insurance Brokers feared regulatory action when SSP Worldwide’s Pure Broking platform struggled to trade for two weeks after a power outage. According to SSP Worldwide, 40% of the UK’s brokers use their Pure Broking platform to track insurance renewals. Disaster recovery plans were severely criticised after the event and highlights the need to prioritise availability and recovery planning.

The regulatory and compliance landscape is ever-evolving and with that the risk of financial penalties is growing too. As of August 2018, banks have to clearly set out how many incidents prevented customers from using payment services over a three and 12 month period. Financial firms will have to provide a breakdown of the incidents in terms of their impact on telephone, mobile and internet banking services.

According to research by risk consultancy Control Risks, found that a quarter of large companies spend less than $25 a year per staff member on compliance, which is worrying considering the potential impact that a fine from a large-scale compliance breach can cause.

The IDC predicts that the by 2025 humans will generate 180 zettabytes of data every year. In this climate of growing data and growing regulations, it is vital for organisations to review their database availability plans and procedures.

Find out more in our white paper or take a look at our Database Availability consultancy services.

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Development is more Important than Production!

Some years ago, not too long after Y2K when DB2 V7 for z/OS was reasonably new, I recall a busy afternoon trying to identify the root cause of a slowdown within a recently amended critical application process in Production. New code had been deployed several days before but no issues had been identified during volume test against production like sizes of data, so it wasn’t one of those obvious issues that are quick to resolve.

At the same time, there was an outage with one of the Build/Development environments. I had been asked by several teams if I could investigate and resolve as soon as possible. I informed them that I was working on a Live issue and that Production service took priority which they understood albeit begrudgingly. After about an hour of investigation into the Production issue, we were busy testing a resolution to ensure normal service could be resumed.  A group of 3 Production Service managers were crowded behind me while we ran the test, eagerly anticipating the results when one of the business delivery Project Managers came storming over full of bluster and very red in the face.

“I understand my Development environment is still unavailable?”

“Yes, it is unfortunately”

“I’m losing valuable money while my developers sit idle and we’re already behind on our target date for build completion. Testers are also sitting doing nothing waiting for Development to be completed. When are you going to fix it?”    

“When I have finished what I am working on, the Development environment issue is my next priority” I replied calmly

“What? You are working on something else instead? What is so important?” he shouted with an even redder face

“I am working to resolve a Production issue that is impacting a customer service”

“A Production issue? Development is more important than Production!

His comment received incredulous looks all round, but eventually the production issue was resolved and then the development environment up and running, but only after 3 hours of downtime.

Nothing can be as important as the loss of a customer service or business critical process in Production, however Development & Testing environments have become more critical: –

  • More and more agile Development and shorter timespan for project lifecycle from Development to Production deployment (measured in small numbers of weeks or even days rather than many months), means even a few hours of downtime can cause critical delays and missed deadlines
  • Development & Testing environment down time is costly in terms of people costs as teams of developers, testers & engineers sit idle
  • Development & Testing is often taking place across many time zones, or out of hours, so a 9:00-17:00 based support window around your local time zone may not be sufficient for a rapid response to resolve any outage.
  • Ultimately downtime could delay production roll out of new or improved customer functionality, failing to improve customer service and falling behind competitors

Ensure you have enough DBA coverage to be able to respond to, not just Production issues but also, those issues impacting availability of Development & Testing environments. And, much like Production, a 09:00-17:00 service support window may not be enough.

 

About Triton Consulting

Triton Consulting has been providing DB2 consultancy services for over 21 years. As well as expert consultancy in all areas of DB2, Triton Consulting also cover a wider spectrum of high level consultancy including senior project management, technical planning, technical architecture, performance tuning and systems programming.

Find out more about DB2 support services from Triton Consulting.

Download the Top 5 Reasons for Choosing Remote Database Support white paper.

 

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How important is your organisations data?

If your answer wasn’t along the lines of “our data is absolutely vital to our business” then you can look away now, this blog isn’t for you! If, like most people you’re in agreement that your organisations data is of paramount importance to the successful running of your business then read on!

DB2 databases underpin thousands of mission critical applications and services across the world. For DBAs looking after those databases, the pressure is on. Outages, whether planned or unplanned can wreak havoc on your organisations bottom line. There’s a huge amount of research out there about how much any kind of IT outage is going to cost your organisation. Estimates range from £70,000 an hour to over £40 million in a year. This is even before you’ve taken into consideration the customer service and PR fall-out that can occur after a high profile outage. Having your mission critical databases unavailable is just not an option.

When it comes to support for mission critical DB2 databases it is absolutely key to know that you’ve got the best DB2 brains on hand. Even if you have skilled DB2 DBAs in house, covering a mission critical database 24/7 needs a serious amount of time, attention and skill. There will inevitably be times when they’re unavailable. Whether that’s due to holiday, sickness or simply when workload is too great to handle exceptional circumstances.  In those scenarios you need a robust contingency plan. This includes knowing where your DBAs can go for support or advice.

Take a look at our “Top 5 Reasons to Choose RemoteDBA” Infographic.

Mission critical DB2 databases need world-class support. With a RemoteDBA 24*7 Plus agreement you will have the brightest DB2 minds in the country on hand day or night, 365 days a year plus:

  • Unlimited support calls
  • Unlimited support hours
  • Up to 8 databases covered
  • Proactive monitoring
  • Any DB2 version covered
  • Dedicated Account Manager
  • 20 hours of Consultancy on Demand included

Who are our best DB2 Brains?

Julian Stuhler

Julian is a highly experienced DB2 specialist with over 30 years relational database experience working with a number of clients within the insurance, telecommunications, banking and manufacturing sectors. An IBM Gold Consultant and a former IDUG (International DB2 User Group) President, Julian is renowned in the industry for his DB2 expertise.

Paul Stoker

With over 30 years in IT, Paul is an experienced data management consultant, having spent the last 20 years specialising in database technology. Paul has highly developed project management and technical planning skills with experience in a wide range of sectors including Retail Banking, Investment Banking, Central Government and Insurance.

Iqbal Goralwalla

Iqbal is a highly experienced Information Management specialist and IBM Gold Consultant, with many years of experience in all aspects of relational databases. Iqbal has extensive project support and technical liaison experience within DB2 on LUW environments. As an IDUG board member, Iqbal is deeply involved in the DB2 community and highly respected amongst his peers. Iqbal heads up the RemoteDBA team.

The RemoteDBA team is made up of highly skilled specialist DB2 consultants; it’s not just a call centre with IT generalists. Our team of RemoteDBA consultants are DB2 through and through! Take a look at some of their technical articles here – http://db2geek.triton.co.uk/

Find out more about RemoteDBA for mission critical DB2 databases.

 

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IDUG EMEA Malta 2018 – Day 4

Another great IDUG conference has inevitably come to its end.

Even though I will miss the networking, the evening parties, chit-chatting with other attendees and all other nice conference side-effects, I am by no means sad that it’s over.

There were a number of very interesting presentations to attend to every day (and still many more missed) and a lot to learn from them. After having spent almost 20 years working as a DB2 DBA, one would think I knew everything about DB2, but each IDUG conference teaches me the same, time and again: there’s always more still to be learnt.

The journey actually never ends as new features are continuously added to DB2.

My takes from this conference include:

  • latest DB2 enhancements (tablespace level restore on HADR standby; online index creation on pureScale; faster rollback of v.large transactions – to name a few)
  • DB2 Roadmap – see what’s coming in new DB2 releases, online (for example: access files from within SQL statements just like normal tables; reduced logging for v.large inserts; advanced log space management to avoid “log full” conditions)

and other nuggets:

  • how to recover a single table from a database backup
  • how to check index reorganisation runtimes
  • how to solve Sudoku puzzles in seconds, using DB2 recursion (wow 😎 )
  • how to prepare for and execute a DB2 Health Check

I know what I will do first thing when I get back home: I will download the IDUG presentation materials (available online) and read through the presentations I didn’t attend, to find out what I have missed!

On an unrelated note, when I tried to check out of the hotel this morning, I was told by a visibly distressed receptionist that the “hotel system has crashed” and the checkout was currently not available (“it will be done retroactively”, they said). I am sure they don’t use DB2 😊

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IDUG EMEA Malta 2018 – Day 3

After the usual hair-raising drive from the airport to the Intercontinental Hotel on Sunday, it was time to catch up with some old friends and colleagues. I was lucky enough to bump into an old mate; Tony Poole, who’s Director of Research & Development for Database Administration at BMC Software. We did a few contracts at various sites together but worked out (over a beer) that the last time we actually worked together was 30 years ago. He was accompanied by his charming daughter, Holly, and the last time I met her, she was in nappies and crawling. Mind you, I think the last time I saw Tony he was on his hands and knees too but that’s a different story.

Tony was kind of enough to be moderator for my session today on HTAP. I suffered a bit by being preceded (and followed, actually) by some very worthy speakers who were presenting on the same topic or, at least, topics in the same area. John Hornibrook from the IBM lab in Toronto did a great presentation on Monday, dealing with the enabling of secondary indexes in Column-organized tables and I was followed this afternoon by Mika Lindholm who was illustrating some real-world experiences with Columnar data that needed reload to get it back into usable shape. We also had a very amusing two-handed presentation this morning by Michael Tiefenbacher and Henrik Loeser on Recursive SQL: I’m a big fan of this feature in terms of generating volumes of test data and interrogating system catalogues but I hadn’t realized it could be used to provide a solution to tricky Sudoku problems. In a single SQL statement too!

Well, that’s Day 3 over; maybe time to go for a jog round the marina, where the rich & famous keep motor yachts large enough to land a Harrier on, or maybe just repair to the bar to discuss the days other proceeding with my colleagues. Its part of the appeal of IDUG I think; the formal, deep-dive technical presentations operate hand-in-glove with the casual networking and exchange of tips and information. If you’re coming along next year, I look forward to seeing you and, if you’re not yet signed up; give it a try!

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IDUG EMEA Malta 2018 – Day 2

Day 2 of IDUG Europe 2018 is in the books, yet another day full of excellent education opportunities and networking here in Malta. While I was reflecting on the events of the day, I got to thinking about our host island and the legend of Faith Hope and Charity, the three Gloster Sea Gladiator biplanes responsible for defending the island against overwhelming odds during the Siege of Malta in 1940. The historical facts are somewhat less romantic than the legend, but the biplanes and their names remain an important part of Malta’s identity.

What has all of this got to do with DB2? It struck me that I saw all three aspects of the legend in a single day at IDUG yesterday:

  • All round me was evidence of people’s faith in DB2, from IBM, Rocket and the other vendors in the exhibit hall, to the many presenters and users who have travelled to the conference (many at their own expense). This passion and belief in the fundamental strengths of the product was evident in several of the technical presentations I attended, as well as the many animated conversations happening over lunch or coffee.
  • The conference also has plenty of forward looking topics as DB2 continues to evolve, providing great hope for the future. Despite their advancing years (DB2 for z/OS is 35 years old this year, while it’s LUW sibling just turned 25) both products continue to be expanded and used alongside the very latest application technologies. Paul Stoker and Paul Whitmarsh gave an excellent example of this within their Modernising the Mainframe presentation on Tuesday afternoon, showing how Lloyds Banking Group is transforming its mainframe to embrace a more agile approach to application development.
  • As for the charity part, that’s easy – look around anywhere and you’ll see at least one of the IDUG volunteers that selflessly give up hundreds of hours of their free time, from the CPC helping to plan and run the conference to the IDUG Board members responsible for the longer term strategy of the organisation. These conferences just wouldn’t exist without them, and their efforts are very much appreciated by all attendees.

With the conference only at it’s mid-point, there are still plenty of learning and networking opportunities still to enjoy before the closing session on Thursday. As I sit on the plane on Thursday evening I know that I’ll be looking back at another entertaining and informative week, but also thinking about those brave biplane pilots.

 

 

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IDUG EMEA Malta 2018 – Day 1

IDUG EMEA always provides interesting content. Whether it’s John Campbell’s greatest hits (INSERT ALGORITHM 2 disable / re-enable, enhanced dynamic workload placement in Connect 11.1 M4 FP4, real storage management fun), or our own Julian Stuhler (Cloudy With a Chance of DevOps – A Survival Guide) and Damir Wilder (SQL Tuning Basics: Simple Steps to SQL Sufficiency), there was plenty of good presentation material today.

The weather here is much warmer than back home in the UK – 23 Celsius rather than 3! Talking to a couple of customers, it seems that the beach – about 2 minutes walk from the hotel – has been established as the best place to hold meetings.

In previous years, Triton have run a large drinks (and a little food) party with DBI on the Monday evening. DBI decided not to come to Malta, so we tried something a bit different this year and took our customers and a few friends out to dinner at the Caviar and Bull restaurant a short walk around the harbour from the conference hotel. Good company and a wonderful meal – lots of sharing dishes, including some theatre with some dishes arriving with smoke (intentional!) under the lids, and another with liquid Nitrogen!

 

If you didn’t come this year, you missed a good venue and a lot of great content. One way to get to IDUG is to be a speaker at the conference. The committee would much rather hear presentations given by real customers, rather than vendors and consultants and the conference fee is waived for speakers, so put a few thoughts together and come and join us next year.

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Malta, here we come!

Malta is an upcoming location for business and culture given that it held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2017 and the City of Valetta, Malta has been selected as the European Capital of Culture 2018. A Blockchain conference with 8,000 attendees from across the Globe was held this week at the Intercontinental – IDUG conference hotel.

All roads lead to Malta this weekend for more than 450 IDUG members. I’m really excited about IDUG EMEA this year. The venue is fantastic and we have such a great line-up of speakers from users to IBM experts, long-time IDUG speakers and first-time attendees. And of course, we have a week of wonderful weather ahead of us.

The Triton team are attending in full force with presentations on various topics throughout the week. Be sure to check these out:

  • DevOps and Agile are hot topics this year and  on Monday Afternoon, Julian Stuhler will be talking about “Cloudy with a Chance of DevOps – A Survival Guide”.
  • Damir Wilder will be sharing SQL tuning experiences on Monday Afternoon in “SQL Tuning Basics: Simple Steps to SQL Sufficiency”.
  • Tuesday Afternoon, Paul Stoker will be co-speaking on “Modernizing the Mainframe – Making DB2 z/OS Agile” with Paul Whitmarsh, Lloyds Banking Group.
  • Hybrid Transactional and Analytical Processing (HTAP) is a topic of primary focus within IBM Analytics, and Mark Gillis will share his experiences in “HTAP : Are We There Yet?” on Wednesday.
  • On Thursday, James Gill will be discussing encryption in DB2 for z/OS in  “Encrypt or Die! How to Secure DB2 for z/OS DDF Traffic using SECPORT and AT-TLS”.

Additionally, there will also be three expert panels on DB2 for z/OS, DB2 for LUW and application development which take place on Wednesday. Julian Stuhler from Triton will be answering your DB2 for z/OS questions from 13:40 and I will be join the LUW expert panel from 14:50. You can submit your z/OS and LUW questions to the panel in advance.

The detailed agenda can be found at: https://www.idug.org/p/cm/ld/fid=1385

Looking forward to seeing and connecting with you all this week!

 

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Six Reasons to Review your Database Availability – Part 3 Reputational Damage

From working with many customers to help keep their critical databases up and running we have come up with the top 6 reasons for putting Database Availability at the top of your priority list. In this blog we look at Reputational Damage:

Regardless of the old adage “No PR is bad PR” everyone wants to avoid a situation that could put their organisation in a position where they face customer complaints and damaging press coverage.

In May this year Visa had a major incident with card payment services across Europe. This caused major issues for millions of customers who were unable to pay for goods and services until the issues were resolved. It also generated thousands of column inches and Twitter posts:

Although this issue turned out to be a hardware failure rather than database related we can see how an unexpected outage can cause major reputational damage to an organisation.

In another high profile outage HSBC customers experienced issues with their online banking services in 2017. Once again we saw customers taking to social media to vent their frustration which caused major embarrassment for the banking giant.

After an outage in 2016, in order to repair some of the reputational damage, HSBC vowed to waive charges for customers affected.

In May 2014 Adobe experienced a 27-hour outage in it’s “Creative Cloud” suite, used by many organisations and individuals in the creative industry. The failure occurred during database maintenance activity. This left users unable to work and resulted in a backlash of bad PR for the company.

The last thing any organisation’s PR department wants is to have to deal with a media storm with angry customers and endless questions from journalists. The fallout can be hugely damaging to an organisations reputation. Reputational damage is a serious issue which can cost time and money to repair.

Find out more in our white paper or take a look at our Database Availability consultancy services.

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Out of Support Database – A DB2 Support Nightmare!

The set-up

 

You have a mission critical database that uses DB2 V9.7 or 10.1 (or even earlier! We do have customers still running V8). It’s robust, reliable and gives little cause for concern. Upgrading to a new version is going to take your application off-line and is, perhaps, a business risk that is going to be hard to get any sanction from senior management. Best to just let things alone.

There are a number of problems with this scenario:

  • Even if you have competent and experienced DBAs to hand, there will eventually be a problem that is actually with the code base itself, rather than the implementation of DB2. If you’re out-of-support, then IBM will not provide an answer
  • You will eventually be trapped in a situation where your application needs to be upgraded and / or your OS needs to be, or some other component of your system and this dictates that you must upgrade DB2. You are then under time pressure and you may have to “bunny-hop” from one version to another to achieve the desired and supported level of DB2
  • If you do have to upgrade you may find that there are features and functions in the version of DB2 that you use that are deprecated or, worse still, obsolete in the version that you are being forced to upgrade to. You then have to squeeze some application rewrite into the timeframe for a critical database upgrade

 

The Moral

Don’t let yourself be lulled into a false sense of security; your database may be running without a hitch at the moment but that doesn’t mean it always will (see http://db2geek.triton.co.uk/aint-broke-dont-fix/ for further whinging). Just because the family motor has driven the last 12,000 miles without you looking under the bonnet, doesn’t mean it will do so indefinitely. And if it’s out of warranty….

Furthermore, the latest versions of DB2 include more and more features and functions, and include many performance improvements straight out of the box. Why not take advantage of this?

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