Five go to IDUG

It’s a full house! We’re delighted to announce that all five of Triton’s IDUG team have had their presentations accepted, four as primary speakers and one as a co-speaker.

Here’s what you have got to look forward to:

Award winning speaker, Julian Stuhler, will be taking a look at DevOps for Mainframe in his engaging presentation – Cloudy with a Chance of DevOps – A Survival Guide

Overview
As large enterprises continue their headlong rush into Cloud Computing and the DevOps movement continues to gather momentum, traditional DB2 job roles are being forced to adapt. This presentation will provide a brief overview of these two increasingly important IT trends, and examine how they are directly impacting DB2 developers, DBAs and systems programmers. From cloud-oriented application design to fully automating DB2 schema changes, some practical guidelines are offered to help current practitioners thrive in this brave new world.

 

Highly experienced DB2 for z/OS Consultant, James Gill will be walking us through a technical introduction to Configuring AT-TLS encryption of DDF traffic.

Overview
This presentation will cover concepts including; how to configure encryption on z/OS and how DB2 uses this and how to configure the clients that will use it.

 

Damir Wilder, one of our talented DB2 LUW and RemotedBA Consultants will be taking us through – SQL Tuning Basics: Simple Steps to SQL Sufficiency

Overview
The purpose of this presentation is to give an overview of methods used in everyday SQL tuning of transactional databases, when an SQL query or a Batch job is underperforming and a quick solution is required. Describe generally available tools in DB2 that can assist in the daily SQL tuning and/or SQL performance problem detection. Describe how to find out what is happening right now in a database. Describe how to gather historical performance data for a database. Describe how to analyse locking issues. Describe how to identify the hottest tables and SQL queries in a database. Show several real-life scenarios of poorly performing SQL and what was done to improve it.

 

Sticking with the DB2 LUW theme, experienced IDUG speaker, Mark Gillis will be giving a fascinating presentation entitled – HTAP : are we there yet?

Overview
From DB2 LUW V10.5 onwards, the focus has been very much on OLAP functionality: BLU acceleration and all that that entails. However, the days of segregating OLAP and OLTP have probably largely passed and customers want a single database to service all their requirements. Light speed response for OLTP transactions, equally performant OLAP functions to crunch massive volumes of data into digestible Business Intelligence with 24×7 availability for both are a demand, not a request. Can DB2 currently deliver this? If not, will it be able to in the near future? How close are we to the genuine Hybrid database?

 

In a twist to our regular presentations, Paul Stoker will be presenting alongside Lloyds Banking Group in their user presentation – Modernizing the Mainframe – Making DB2 z/OS Agile

Overview
Demands on DBAs for change is higher & faster than ever before. DBAs are coming under pressure to adopt to Agile Development, DevOps & RESTful APIs to name a few. Our presentation discusses our real-world experiences of leveraging DB2 z/OS tools to meet the needs of an increasingly agile engineering environment from a DBA perspective. We discuss decisions made & lessons learnt whilst designing & building applications using RESTful APIs, JSON, XML, Stored Procs & how we manage the associated artefacts.

This year’s IDUG conference will be held in beautiful Malta on 4th-8th November. There will be three expert panels on DB2 for z/OS, DB2 for LUW and application development. In over 100 hours of one-hour technical sessions, attendees will experience the latest in DB2 technologies, networking opportunities and top-notch technical content.

To find out more and book your place visit – https://www.idug.org/emea2018

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Dr, Dr, my data is corrupt!

Five signs that you need a Remote DB2 support solution!

We speak to our very own in-house Dr about the signs to look out for which can tell you that it’s time to start thinking about a remote DB2 support solution.

“In my time as Head of Managed Services at Triton I’ve seen many different types of customers with different issues and priorities for their DB2 database management but there are five key triggers to look out for. If any of these apply to your organisation then it really is time to book an appointment with the DB2 experts!” Dr Iqbal Goralwalla, Head of Managed Services, Triton Consulting and IBM Gold Consultant.

 

1. Continually struggling with competing priorities for your IT budget
2. Feeling the strain of 24/7 support
3. Overworked DBAs
4. Struggling to find DB2 skills
5. Feeling insecure about the future

Each organisation is different and their specific reasons for choosing a remote database support solution will vary but there are many common themes. The need for quality support and technical excellence is of course paramount.

1. Continually struggling with competing priorities for your IT budget

“No prizes for guessing that cost is a major factor for many organisations that choose remote database support. However, it’s not as clear-cut as you may think.” Says Iqbal

When we looked at this issue more closely we discovered that under the umbrella of “Cost” there were many other factors at play. It is often the perception that organisations need to cut cost and so will simply choose to reduce headcount by outsourcing large chunks of business processes in a bid to save money. This may be the case for some IT and business processes but when you look at more niche IT services such as database support this is rarely the case, especially in the midmarket sector.

It is especially difficult for small teams to cope at busy times of the year or holiday season.
We have also seen some organisations using DB2 only for a niche part of their overall IT infrastructure. It is often difficult to make a business case for employing a full time DB2 DBA in this instance and so the organisation is forced to rely upon existing Oracle or SQL Server DBAs. This can become a problem if any serious DB2 support issues arise.

In both of these scenarios, by utilising an external support provider, organisations can benefit from additional DBA support far more cheaply than if they had to employ another permanent member of staff. This combination of in-house and external support works well for many organisations.

2. Feeling the strain of 24/7 Support
“The demand for 24×7 services can put a huge strain on overstretched DBA teams. Have you felt the strain? Our customers have found that working alongside a partner who can provide 24×7 DBA cover with contracted response times down to one hour provides the insurance they need.” Says Iqbal

High or continuous availability (24×7) is a common requirement for today’s “on demand” IT systems and this can put pressure on small or overstretched DBA teams. Teams can have difficulty providing cover for holiday, sickness or maternity and paternity leave. Adding to this, the increasing requirement for systems to be available 24×7 with DBA cover required at all times, the pressure on small DBA teams is clear.


3. Overworked DBAs

“I think anyone who has worked in a DBA team can identify with this one. Overworked DBA teams may not have time to proactively monitor the database. Instead, only reacting once a problem has occurred and business users are already feeling the effects.” Says Iqbal

Expert DBA skills are often needed on different projects and so DBAs can find themselves spending more time on non-core functions. This means that the vital monitoring and management of the database can be sidelined.

Don’t forget! It is important when taking out a remote support contract, to check whether the service provider can offer the option of proactive monitoring. This takes away the concern of problems cropping up unexpectedly and more often than not potential issues are noticed and dealt with before users are even aware of an issue.

4. Struggling to find DB2 skills
“Is searching for DB2 skills becoming a problem in your organisation?” Asks Iqbal.

We work with organisations who do not have any DB2 skills in-house and organisations who have skills in-house but access to those skills is limited.

Some organisations may have inherited DB2 systems through expansion or acquisition and do not have the skills in-house to support it. Whilst their own IT team may be able to cope for a while, if any real issues come up, a support organisation with DB2 expertise will be needed.

We have also seen customers facing the need to replace a DBA quickly but who have struggled to find a new individual with the required level of skills. Bringing in a support organisation is a useful way to plug this gap fast with the assurance that you will be getting the highest level of DB2 skills.

5. Feeling insecure about the future
“This one is slightly less obvious but important nonetheless. If your organisation is in the process of changing it’s strategic IT direction then this is one to look out for.” Says Iqbal

An “insecure future” may not be the most obvious reason but sometimes organisations are unsure of their strategic IT direction, particularly the choice of database platform. Investing in permanent staff to support and maintain a database that may not be in the long term plans for the business does not make financial sense. Finding a provider who can take control of ongoing database maintenance until a final decision has been made is a good way around this problem.

Organisations face many challenges in delivering a stable, efficient database infrastructure. Budget pressures, demands for higher availability and increasing workloads can all mean that pressure is building on IT Management to find a cost effective and reliable way of managing the organisations’ DB2 infrastructure.

RemoteDBA from Triton Consulting provides the highest level of stability for business critical operations. Our clients receive a superior level of personalised care – day or night – from our team of highly experienced DB2 professionals.

 

Remote DB2 Support Infographic

Click the image to view the Top 5 Reasons to Choose RemoteDBA infographic

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Cloudy with a Chance of DevOps – A Survival Guide Webcast

We are delighted to announce that Julian Stuhler, Solutions Delivery Director at Triton Consulting has been invited to present the first in a series of IBM webcasts by IBM Gold Consultants.

Julian will be taking a look at DevOps for Mainframe in his engaging webcast  – Cloudy with a Chance of DevOps – A Survival Guide on Thursday 12th July, 16:00 BST (11:00 AM EDT).

DevOps, as a concept, emerged around 2007. The early adopters and evangelists have been beating the DevOps drum with increasing pace in the intervening years. Although to some, Mainframe is seen as an older, more traditional platform which may not seem to sit naturally with DevOps principles, in fact there are many reasons why CIOs that are running Mainframe applications as part of their overall IT infrastructure simply can’t afford to ignore the benefits that DevOps can bring.

In addition, as Mainframe practitioners, we all need to be aware of the impending changes that will naturally come to DB2 for z/OS job roles when these new practices are adopted. As large enterprises continue their headlong rush into Cloud Computing and the DevOps movement continues to gather momentum, traditional DB2 for z/OS job roles will be forced to adapt.

In his presentation, Julian will provide a brief overview of arguably the two most important IT trends of the moment, Cloud and DevOps. He will examine how they are directly impacting DB2 Developers, DBAs and Systems Programmers. From cloud oriented application design to fully automating DB2 schema changes, some practical guidelines are offered to help current practitioners thrive in this brave new world.

Register for the live webcast here.

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What kind of summer break will your DBA be having? Sun, sea and sangria or a hotel lobby, dodgy WIFI and support calls?

We’re finally thawing out after a particularly long winter. The #beastfromtheeast is a distant memory and thoughts are turning to blue skies and beaches. Now is the time to start planning for that tricky holiday silly-season.

If your organisation has just one or two DBAs it can be pretty stressful to maintain cover over the summer holidays. Maybe you’re planning to “get by” with less DB2 resource that you usually need. Although winging it and hoping that nothing goes awry whilst your DBA sips their Pina Colada is an option, it’s not one that we would recommend!

Have you considered the cost to your organisation if one of your business critical DB2 applications were to be unavailable for an hour, a day or longer?!

Do you have a robust contingency plan for when your in-house DBAs are unavailable?

At Triton Consulting we offer a range of flexible DB2 services that can be tailored to your company’s requirements and allow you to manage resourcing cost effectively. Our Consultancy on Demand service for both DB2 z/OS and DB2 LUW is ideal for short-term resourcing over the holiday period. Also, it’s a “no-brainer”

Take a look at our flexible resourcing options for more information

 

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Stay in the loop!

Unless you’ve been hibernating for the last six months you’ll be well aware of GDPR which comes into force on 25th May.  As data management specialists we’re working hard to make sure that we’re fully compliant with the new rules.

We send out bi-monthly email newsletters to our subscriber list. These emails are tailored to our subscribers’ interest areas; so whether you’re all about the Mainframe, you’re working on DB2 LUW or you’re a CIO interested in the bigger picture, we’ve got top quality industry content, news and updates for you.

You can subscribe to our newsletter here.

To find out more about how we use subscriber data visit –

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Database Availability – A CIO View

Data sits at the heart of all organisations and without it everyday functions simply cannot be performed. Reliance on data availability is growing. It is vital to ensure that your organisations’ Database Availability and Recovery procedures are robust and able to meet business SLAs.

For a CIO, keeping business critical IT systems available 24/7 is a key concern.  In a recent blog, we took a look at the cost to businesses of database downtime.

There is a huge amount of research available about how much an IT outage can cost an organisation. Estimates range from £70,000 an hour to over £40 million in a year.

Of course, this cost is not only measured in monetary value. The cost of database outages includes:

  • Lost sales revenue
  • Lost customers
  • Reputational damage
  • Regulatory compliance implications
  • HR Implications

 

The three phases of the Database Availability project:

The Analysis Phase
The first step in ensuring that your availability plans are robust and ready to meet business SLAs is to take an honest look at where your organisation is now and what potential vulnerabilities you may face. It is vital that CIOs carry out a thorough analysis of current availability processes and procedures. From there a detailed impact analysis should be carried out. This can be a painful process as it can highlight areas which require swift action to bring processes inline with agreed SLAs.

The Design Phase
There are many solutions and services on the market to help maintain database availability. The next challenge is to review the costings and business benefit cases of the proposed services. Designing a solution to fit your organisation can be a complex process and a detailed implementation plan needs to be created.

The Implementation Phase
Now it’s time to test and implement the agreed solution. This in itself can present a challenge to organisation who are already struggling with resourcing. Depending on the size of your organisation and the level of work required, implementing a project of this nature can be a significant challenge.

The Triton team can guide you through this three-phase process, ensuring that the most appropriate solution is selected and implemented successfully. Find out more about the Triton Consulting Database Availability for DB2 service and download the Executive Briefing 

An Independent View

Sometimes it is necessary to get an independent, unbiased view of current processes and procedures to ensure that your systems are as stable, secure and efficient as possible. Triton Consulting is well positioned to provide this independent advice as we have many years of hard-won experience working with a range of customers. All of our consultants are true DB2 experts with deep technical knowledge and skills. This is combined with the ability to work with C-level teams to provide real, quantifiable business results from better managing IT.

The Triton Consulting Database Availability for DB2 service is designed to enable CIOs and IT Directors to ensure that their organisations’ IT infrastructure can meet growing availability demands and take away the worry of failure.  Find out more

 

 

 

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Managing the Mainframe in 2018

For many large organisations the Mainframe is the workhorse powering business critical IT systems and services. Managing that beast is an immense task and one that can seemingly take ever more time and budget.

In this blog we take a look at some of the key concerns for CIOs who are grappling with the challenge of managing the Mainframe and how these challenges can be overcome.

Mainframe Costs
Costs always have been and probably always will be one of the key concerns for CIOs. In some recent research from BMC, IBM software costs came out as the number one challenge identified by its respondents. http://blog.triton.co.uk/2018/02/the-mainframe-is-growing-and-heres-the-proof/

Respondents in the survey also said that they could foresee some significant MIPS growth on the mainframe in their organisation. This means that many organisations are facing ever growing Monthly Licence Charges (MLC) from IBM. MLC fees can take up a major chunk of the overall IT budget.

Most mainframe software charges are based on peak CPU usage, so whatever your peak workload is in a given month is what you pay for. This means that one workload spike could push your
costs up significantly for that month.

“One of the most effective ways of reducing or containing mainframe costs is through
better management of CPU consumption. By identifying and taking control of your peak workload, ongoing software costs can be reduced and you may even be able to defer mainframe upgrades.Julian Stuhler, Solutions Delivery Director and IBM Gold Consultant – Triton Consulting

Managing performance and cost has become a significantly more difficult job with capacity planners and performance analysts being asked to defer hardware and software upgrades due to restricted budgets.

The Solution – Regain control of software charges
Triton can help you to regain control of your enterprise software charges by analysing your current environment and identifying opportunities to optimise and tune your critical mainframe workloads. How it works:
Initial Analyisis – Typically customers can reduce their peak CPU charges by a minimum of 3% with no performance impacts whatsoever and many customers can reduce their peak by 5% from this initial analysis.
Workload Optimisation – The majority of Mainframe users have significant potential for further reducing resource consumption (and therefore costs) through optimisation and performance tuning of key workloads.

Find out more about Triton’s Mainframe Cost Reduction Services  or download the Executive Briefing on IT cost reduction

Staffing and skills shortage
Staffing and skills shortages are a key concern for many Mainframe sites. It is widely accepted in the industry that many of the most skilled Mainframe workers are nearing retirement age.

There are more concerns coming to the fore when it comes to the IT skills shortage for the UK. Brexit is looming and with it comes a recruitment landscape which could see organisations finding it more difficult to bring workers in from EU countries. This may further limit an already diminishing resource pool. According to research by recruitment firm HIRED 70% of the UK’s technology workers are considering a move to other EU cities.

The Solution – Flexible resourcing
We know that organisations need access to skilled Mainframe resources. With this in mind, Triton offer a range of flexible resourcing solutions; from traditional consultancy to a more flexible “consultancy on demand” service which lets you purchase blocks of hours to be used as and when needed.

DB2 Consultancy on Demand

Click image to enlarge

Training and skills transfer is a great way to manage the skills gap for the long-term. Triton’s team of DB2 for z/OS consultants have been working on the Mainframe platform for many years and have built up a vast level of experience. We can work with existing staff to bring those Mainframe skills to your organisation.

Find out more about Triton’s Flexible IT resourcing

 

DevOps for the Mainframe
The DevOps movement continues to grow at pace within the IT industry. DevOps promises shorter development cycles, increased deployment frequency, and more dependable releases, in close alignment with business objectives. There have been suggestions from some quarters that DevOps and Mainframe simply don’t sit together.  In many people’s minds Mainframe is still associated with older, more traditional IT practices. However, CIOs that are running Mainframe applications as part of their overall IT infrastructure simply can’t afford to ignore the benefits that DevOps can bring.

Although many larger organisations have been slower to embrace DevOps practices, it is steadily building momentum. IBM has fully embraced Agile/DevOps principles internally which is has given us continuous delivery of new function for DB2 for z/OS (from V12 onwards). A cautious approach has meant that only a limited amount of new function has been released so far, but that will ramp up throughout 2018 as these working practices become better established within the DB2 development teams.

Back at IBM’s customer sites, many mainframe developers are enthusiastically embracing DevOps practices, and the impact on traditional DBA and Sysprog/Sysadmin roles shouldn’t be underestimated. With the right approach and suitable processes and tooling there is huge potential to reduce the amount of routine donkey-work and free up time for higher value work such as database design and performance tuning. Once again Triton is leading the charge, and we’re working with several large customers to help automate the provisioning and administration of DB2 environments in order to improve agility and reduce time to market.

Mainframe for the future
With Mainframe workloads continuing to increase, the challenges of cost management and resourcing is only going to grow.

Triton can help you to ensure that your Mainframe is ready for the future! We have worked with many of the biggest Z series customers in the UK and Europe, and can provide skilled consultants for both long and short-term engagements. In addition to traditional DB2 and Mainframe consultancy, Triton also offer a wider spectrum of high level specialist skills including; senior project management, technical planning, technical architecture, performance tuning and systems programming.

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Top 5 DB2 Support Nightmares 2018 – No.1

Single User Access

The set-up

When you install DB2 you obviously have an all-powerful instance owner ID and password. The best option, once you’ve got DB2 up and running, is to ensure that no-one, except essential support staff, has access to it. From past experience we have come across DB2 sites that have only the one userid for all users to use and, frighteningly, use the same password in all environments.

What this means of course is

  • If you’re a user who has ever connected to the DEV environment, you can now get straight in to Production
  • You can (if malicious) harvest sensitive data or drop critical objects
  • You can (even if entirely benign) put in place features or structures that you think might help Production run, but which will actually knacker it completely
  • You have the ability to submit ad-hoc queries that you think might be handy but that will actually stop your Production services dead :

I wonder how many rows are in that table? Maybe if I submit SELECT * FROM Largest_Table_in_the_Database it will tell me.

Well, it doesn’t look like that’s going to respond any time soon; guess I’ll go home and see if its worked in the morning”

And, consequently, about 3 a.m. the entire batch suite comes down with a series of locking and timeout errors

  • And finally, of course, no-one can tell who did any of this because everyone is using the same ID

The Moral

Build a security strategy into your database from the word go. Design a set of users, groups and roles and implement them in Dev. Use that design as a template for your other environments and don’t let anyone have any more database authority than they actually need to do their job.

 

You can download our ‘Top 10 DB2 Support Nightmares and How to Avoid Them‘ series here.

 

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I already have a DBA. Why do I need RemoteDBA?

Skilled DBAs are in high demand. A DBA’s workload generally covers a huge array of tasks including; day to day database management and monitoring, database design, capacity planning, programming and development, database availability. The list goes on! With all this (and more) on a DBA’s plate things can get really tough when you’re faced with extra busy periods. A software upgrade or a seasonal workload peak can put huge pressure on an already stretched team.

Holiday times can be another source of major stress for DBAs and management teams alike. It’s not unusual for small to medium sized businesses to have just one DB2 DBA. If that person goes on holiday or is off sick, what then? Who is in charge of that critical database? Perhaps an Oracle or SQL DBA or an IT generalist can be drafted in to help out but this is a risky strategy. Check out our Top 10 DB2 Support Nightmares to find out why!

If you’re not sure that you need a remote database support service, just consider the following questions for a moment:

• Where does your DBA go for support or advice?
• Do you have a robust contingency plan for when your DBA is not available?
• What happens during extra busy periods such as during a software upgrade or a seasonal workload peak?
• What would be the cost to your business if one of your DB2 applications was down for an hour/day/week?

When evaluating which remote support provider to work with consider:

• Skill level of the organisation providing the service. Many organisations offer remote database support services for a range of databases. Make sure the organisation you select has specific expertise in DB2.

• Evaluate the support packages on offer. Can the organisation in question provide 24/7 support for example?

• What is the process for raising a support ticket? Make sure there is a clear process for raising support issues to ensure that you are fully aware of progress.

• Will you get on? Clear and open communication with a remote services provider is vital. Make sure that the culture and ethics of the organisation you are working with match your own.

The RemoteDBA service from Triton Consulting works really well alongside your existing staff. Our team understand the challenges that DBAs face on a day to day basis. They provide that everyday management and monitoring day in and day out, through busy times and holiday seasons. Come what may our RemoteDBA service can be relied upon to support your business and it’s critical DB2 databases.

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Is your industry ready to face a growing IT skills gap?

There have long been concerns in the IT industry over the potential impact of the growing skills gap in the IT sector. This is particularly relevant in the world of Mainframe where 43% of the workforce are in the 50-64 age category.

There are many initiatives across the globe promoting Mainframe as an exciting and challenging work environment for IT students to consider. IBM in particular has put a lot of work into their Master the Mainframe initiative.

However, there are more concerns coming to the fore when it comes to the IT skills shortage for the UK. Brexit is looming and with it comes a recruitment landscape which will see organisations finding it more and more difficult to bring workers in from EU countries.  This will limit an already diminishing resource pool. According to research by recruitment firm HIRED 70% of the UK’s technology workers are considering a move to other EU cities.

Executives need to be putting plans into place to ensure that they have their critical IT systems covered for the long-term. Triton Consulting provide a range of services for DB2 on the Mainframe.

So what are the options for CIOs who are looking to plug this mainframe skills gap?

Outsourcing

The decision to outsource an organisations’ Mainframe is huge and would never be undertaken lightly. Although outsourcing providers may be highly skilled, they don’t have the intimate knowledge of the organisation which is built up over many years. This coupled with the natural doubts about handing one of your businesses’ most important assets over to a third party to manage can mean that outsourcing Mainframe services is a daunting prospect.

Training

This is certainly a good option for organisations who want to keep Mainframe services in-house. It is a great way to broaden the skills of existing staff. Those staff members who are committed to the company and have ingrained knowledge of who the business works can be a huge asset when given a broader range of skills. Triton provide a range of training for individuals or teams looking to learn more about the Mainframe.

Access to skilled Mainframe resource

Mainframe skills are in demand, according to recent BMC research 91% of respondents view the mainframe as a long-term viable platform.  With this in mind it is worth considering bringing in those expertise from a third party.

Triton Consulting provide flexible resourcing options to organisations who need to supplement their Mainframe skills. With the option to purchase a block of hours, our Consultancy on Demand solution allows organisations to access key skills as and when they are required. These consultancy hours can be used for training and skills transfer; to provide specific skills where they are lacking in the team or for specific project work. Working alongside the in-house team our highly experienced consultants can enable large Mainframe users to manage their resource requirements in a highly cost effective and flexible manner.

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