Robert's Blog

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Athens, DB2, and Application Development

I am writing this post in Athens, Greece, where I am participating in the 2007 International DB2 Users Group (IDUG) European Conference. I have been to a number of IDUG conferences over the years, in various parts of the world, but the 2007 Athens event has been, for me, one of the most satisfying. Yes, the venue is great, but my positive experience this week is attributable only in part to a hike up the Acropolis and the wonderful Greek food. What really has me pumped here in Athens is the emphasis - at a DB2-focused conference - on topics pertaining to application development. I have long thought that the real value of data is based on the extent to which it can be transformed into useful information, and applications are typically the means by which this data-to-information transformation takes place.

The application-oriented buzz at this event has me excited for two reasons. First, it is a reflection of the increase in attendance of application developers at IDUG conferences (this accompanied by an increase in the number of IDUG members - whether conference attendees or not - who identify themselves as application developers and architects). I attended an excellent session on DB2 application design delivered by Jan Henderyckx, a Belgium-based consultant. Jan asked for a show of hands from people who are application developers, and about 40% of the session attendees raised their hands (and Jan had a good-sized audience). A few years ago, it was not unusual to hear programmers speak in a negative way about DBAs, and vice versa. While such us-versus-them attitudes have not entirely gone the way of the dinosaur, seeing so many developers at this IDUG conference is a clear indication of the growing realization that application people and data people need each other. Data is the foundation upon which applications are built, and applications enable organizations to take the value of data from potential to reality.

The second reason for my excitement regarding the application-oriented tilt of the Athens IDUG conference comes from seeing a continuing increase in interest among DB2 DBAs with respect to application-focused conference sessions. I delivered a session on SOA (service-oriented architecture) for DB2 people, and I had a standing-room-only crowd. Again, not so long ago, many DBAs felt that their job responsibility stopped at the DBMS level: manage the data, secure the data, back up the data, provide for CPU-efficient and quick access to the data, and so on. Those are still important matters, but DBAs are now realizing that they can increase the value that they deliver to their employers by helping programmers increase their development productivity - by providing data-access support for a variety of application servers (e.g., WebSphere, WebLogic, Windows .NET), by facilitating data access interfaces that are "natural" for various programming environments (e.g., Java Database Connectivity, or JDBC; ADO.NET, and ODBC), by supporting data access for programs written in different languages (not only COBOL and Java and C#, but newer languages such as Ruby, Python, and Perl), and by helping developers to speed the delivery of functionality by "hiding the data plumbing" (i.e., abstracting the physical particulars of database implementation so that programmers can interact with data using their preferred object view of same). The great news for DBAs is that developers (at least a number with whom I've worked) are often thrilled to have the help of data-centric people when it comes to architecting and building new applications. DBAs, learn about this stuff and watch your popularity grow back at the home office.

At this point, some of you readers may be thinking, "That's great for some, but what about the lot of us who don't get to jet off to Athens (or wherever) to attend an IDUG conference?" No problem. Soon after the conclusion of an IDUG conference, the presentations delivered at event wind up online in the Learning Center section of the IDUG Web site ( And not just slides, mind you, but slides synched with the presenter's audio. Most of these presentations are available only to IDUG members, but basic IDUG membership is free and you can quickly and easily register online at the IDUG site (there is also a premier-level membership, available for a modest annual fee, which provides some exclusive content access and discounts on fee-for-download items). If you're an IDUG member, take advantage of this great learning resource. Those of you who aren't IDUG members should definitely check it out - the price is certainly right.

I hope to see many of you at future IDUG events. Time now for me to start getting ready for the trip back home.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home