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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Total Recall: Exploiting In-Memory Features in DB2 z/OS on the DB2Night Show

We are pleased to confirm that Julian Stuhler, Solutions Delivery Director and IBM Gold Consultant will be the guest presenter on the forthcoming DB2Night Show. Julian will be presenting on Total Recall: Exploiting In-Memory Features in DB2 12 for z/OS. 

Episode #z90 of this popular show runs on the Friday 19th October at 4-5:15pm BST.

Synopsis

IBM has steadily expanded the in-memory capabilities of DB2 in recent releases, to the extent that DB2 12 for z/OS is now officially recognised by Gartner as a bona fide “In Memory Database”. This presentation provides an overview of the ways in which DB2 is evolving to exploit more real memory, reduce CPU and deliver improved price/performance, with a specific emphasis on exploiting new DB2 12 in-memory features such as contiguous buffer pools and Fast Traverse Blocks (FTBs).

Register here.

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IBM Webcast – Tell Your Story & Earn Your Star: Become an IBM Champion

It’s IBM Champion nomination season! Join Libby Ingrassia, IBM Sr. WW Program Manager  on Monday 8th October for the webcast Tell Your Story & Earn Your Star: Become an IBM Champion.

IBM Champions are a community of experts across IBM technologies and around the world who are recognised by IBM for their extraordinary expertise and contributions to the technical community

Libby will provide further details of the IBM Champion program, the benefits of being a champion as well as the values the program brings to IBM and the community.  Libby will also share the all-important information on how to nominate yourself or someone else.

Click here to register.

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5 Misconceptions about Outsourcing Database Support

1 – You have to outsource all of your IT support

This can be a key concern for many organisations. They can see the benefits of outsourcing or using a 3rd party provider for support but worry about whether they will have to outsource everything. With specialist or niche support providers it is possible to simply outsource one specific area of IT to that specialist provider. When it comes to DB2 Support, Triton can take over the maintenance and support of all or part of your DB2 infrastructure, you have total control over the coverage and levels of support.

2 – It’s all about cost cutting

This is one of the biggest myths about outsourcing database support. Whilst it can certainly be more cost effective to have an external support provider, this isn’t the only reason for considering whether to outsource database support.

An external DB2 support provider can back-up your in-house IT team with expert DB2 knowledge. Knowing where to go and who to ask when extra support is needed can be a huge benefit and can enable in-house IT teams to be more efficient, resolve issues more quickly and concentrate on core IT work.

During extra busy periods such as software upgrades or seasonal workload peaks an outsourcing or support agreement means that the day to day maintenance of critical DB2 databases will still be carried out.

3 – Outsourcing is only for big business

It’s a really common misconception that outsourcing is only for large enterprise organisations who want to lift and shift whole IT departments to an outsourcing provider, usually offshore. However, this is no longer the case. Many smaller organisations are now realising the benefits of outsourcing parts of their IT support functions. Smaller organisations can quickly see the benefits of improved efficiency and flexibility which outsourcing can offer.

4 – Security will be compromised

Security is a hot topic in all organisations, whether large or small. All outsourcing or external support providers should have robust security procedures in place and this is something which should be checked thoroughly before entering into a contract.

Triton’s RemoteDBA service connects to your systems via secure VPN. We are flexible and implement any remote access protocols required by your organisation.

5 – Loss of control

It’s very common for organisations to feel that any sort of outsourcing means a loss of control. However, a good outsourcing or external support provider should be able to alleviate these concerns with clear processes and good communication. Before you start working with a new provider, plan in time to speak to the team and get to know your key contacts. Help them to understand how your team works and what your expectations of the service are. Take a look at our “How to get the most out of your RemoteDBA service” blog for more tips on working with a remote database support provider.

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