Robert's Blog

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

IBM IOD 2009 - Day 2

Another day done at IBM's 2009 Information on Demand Conference - another day of learning more about DB2, and about technologies used at higher levels of the information transformation software stack. Some take-aways from today's sessions follow.

A good DB2 9 for z/OS migration story- Maria McCoy of the UK Land Registry delivered a very good presentation on her organization's DB2 9 for z/OS migration experience. The Land Registry has one of the world's largest operational (versus decision support) databases, holding almost 40 TB of data. On top of that, the agency recently launched it's first public e-business application, a consequence being that downtime is even less well tolerated than before.

The Land Registry runs DB2 in data sharing mode on a parallel sysplex mainframe cluster. The number of DB2 subsystems across all of the Land Registry's environments (test, development, and production) is about 30.

The DB2 9 migration effort went off well, largely because the Land Registry stays pretty current on system maintenance, with quarterly upgrades of the DB2 service level (Maria confirmed what others have said, indicating that DB2 9 is very stable at the F906 maintenance level and beyond).

For the Land Registry, the primary DB2 9 migration drivers included:
  • XML support
  • Spatial data support (spatial awareness had historically been achieved by way of user-written code)
  • Extensions to online schema changes
  • Further exploitation of 64-bit addressing
  • Improved utility CPU efficiency
  • Indexes on column expressions
  • Real-time statistics (especially the capability of identifying indexes that have gone a long time without being used for data access)
  • Larger index page sizes (offering potentially reduced GETPAGE activity due to a reduction in the number of index levels)
An important part of the Land Registry's DB2 9 migration planning effort involved identification of third-party tools used with DB2. The agency identified 42 such products, among these being monitors, middleware, compilers, utilities, file management systems, and legacy software.

A dedicated test system proved to be very valuable. The LoadRunner tool was used to drive online transaction test scripts.

Following the migration to DB2 9, the Land Registry converted all existing simple tablespaces to segmented tablespaces (a good idea, as simple tablespaces can no longer be created in a DB2 9 environment). Maria and her colleagues thought that there were no simple tablespaces in their DB2 databases, but it turned out that 41 such tablespaces did exist.

Among the DB2 9 new features put to good use by the Land Registry are the following:
  • Indexes on column expressions (thus was achieved a HUGE decrease in CPU time for a batch job containing a query with a predicate involving a column in a substring function)
  • Clone tables (a table-data-change outage that formerly ran to 5 hours due to time needed to load new data and to inspect the newly loaded data for correctness went to 2 seconds)
  • Rename column
  • Rename index
The DB2 9 migration project went from beginning to end in about 12 months. The Land Registry ran with DB2 9 in Conversion Mode for about 2 months in each of their DB2 environments prior to moving to Enable New Function Mode and then to New Function Mode.

The current Information Management software scene - Arvind Krishna, General Manager of IBM's Information Management software business, spoke during a keynote presentation of the challenges faced by organizations dealing with explosive information growth (an estimated 15 petabytes of new data are generated daily - that's about 50 exabytes per year). He went on to talk about the benefits of "workload-optimized systems" being brought to market now by IBM - systems comprised of fully integrated hardware and software offerings that are optimized for specific workloads. An example of a workload-optimized system is IBM's Smart Analytics system, which provides hardware and a comprehensive software stack (with data management, warehousing, and analytics software) in one package that can be quickly and effectively deployed.

Ross Mauri, General Manager of IBM's Power Systems business (formerly called System p), provided information on the current state of the Power line (currently utilizing generation 6 of IBM's RISC-based microprocessor family, with generation 7 now in beta test mode). Ross said that "Power is everywhere," not only in IBM's Power servers but also in supercomputers, cars, all three of the major electronic game consoles, and the Mars Rover ("we have 100% market share on Mars"). From around 17% market share a few years ago, Power systems now has more than 40% of the market for RISC processor-based servers. Particular strengths of the server line include efficiency ("work per watt," as Ross put it), virtualization, management, and resiliency.

Arvind Krishna closed out the keynote session with remarks that spotlighted IBM's close partnership with SAP (the companies have joint development teams and tens of thousands of mutual customers).

DB2 9 for z/OS native SQL procedures are looking very good - Philip Czachorowski of Fidelity Investments presented information related to his company's early experiences with the native SQL procedures feature of DB2 9 for z/OS (I've blogged a number of times on this technology, beginning with an entry posted late last year). Philip talked about DDL extensions that help with the migration of native SQL procedures from development to test to production environments (statements such as ALTER PROCEDURE ADD VERSION and ALTER PROCEDURE ACTIVATE VERSION), and the new SET CURRENT ROUTINE VERSION statement that can facilitate the testing of a new native SQL procedure (Philip also stressed the importance of having a good naming convention for SQL procedure version identifiers, so you'll know what you're executing when running tests).

Performance data presented during the session was most interesting. Philip showed monitor data for one case in which total class 1 CPU time (from a DB2 monitor accounting report) for a native SQL procedure was only 4% greater than that of a comparable stored procedure written in COBOL.

Near the end of his presentation, Philip mentioned that the DB2_LINE_NUMBER clause of the GET DIAGNOSTICS statement could be very helpful in terms of resolving native SQL procedure code problems.

Stream analytics is way cool - Just before dinner, those of us participating in the IOD Blogger Program had an opportunity to spend an hour with IBMers who are working on the System S "stream analytics" technology on which IBM's InfoSphere Streams offering is based. This is cool stuff: stream analytics software, running under Linux on commodity hardware, can be used to analyze vast amounts of incoming data - often signal data produced by various sensors - to identify events or episodes as they occur, thereby enabling a very rapid response capability. The data could be structured or unstructured, and might consist of hydrophone-captured sounds (picking up, perhaps, the clicking of dolphins), radio astronomy signals, manufacturing data, vehicular traffic activity, weather data, telephone communications, or human-health indicators. Picking up on this latter stream category, a specialist in neonatology who has worked with the IBM System S team spoke of her work involving the monitoring of premature infants' vital signs. An electrocardiogram can generate 500 data signals per second, and there are other vital-sign streams that can be analyzed as well (e.g., blood flow data), and all this can be multiplied by several infants in one area being monitored concurrently (important, as an infection in one child could quickly spread to others). System S stream analytics technology is demonstrating the potential to save lives by taking anomaly detection time from 24 hours (using traditional monitoring methods) to seconds.

The IBM researchers then demonstrated the use of System S stream analytics software to analyze automobile traffic patterns in Stockholm, Sweden (500,000 pieces of GPS data per second).

The scalability of the System S technology is remarkable, the programming interface is surprisingly straightforward (people familiar with object-oriented programming languages tend to become proficient in a couple of weeks), and the GUI is pretty intuitive. Who knows how broadly applicable it might end up being (early adopters are largely in the government and health-care industries, but oil companies are also showing interest)? Watch this space, folks.

That's it for now. Tomorrow morning I'll deliver a presentation on DB2 for z/OS data warehouse performance, and tomorrow evening I'll try to post another blog entry.


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