Monday, August 14, 2017

Are You Open to Open Source Databases?

During the last 5 years, the awareness, acceptance and embrace of open source database systems has exploded. Everyone, including IBM is firmly seated on the bandwagon. For the last 12 months, I have been illuminating the concepts of open source (non relational) database systems during the Db2 for i Technical Forums. We also continue to review the fundamentals of relational database, lest we forget.

So, as a Db2 for i user, are you open to open source database?

If not, should you be?

Obviously the answer is: it depends!

Before we get into exactly what it might depend on, I highly recommend you take a few minutes to go off and read an introduction to open source databases by my friend and colleague, Rick Murphy.

Rick's article, "All you really need to know about open source databases" can be found here.

Welcome back!

If you're like me, you found Rick's overview interesting and insightful. We can also use it as a starting point to answer the question posed above.

When considering the adoption of any component or solution, we must first understand our business requirements and the technical requirements. These requirements must be reconciled and prioritized. Then and only then can we effectively consider components and/or solutions that might meet our requirements, thus avoiding buyer's remorse.

Now the question has transformed into: do you have business and technical requirements that can be met by an open source database?

And more specifically, what flavor of open source database:

Non relational?
GPU accelerated?

A related and possibly more profound question is:

Can your current Db2 relational database management system, the one you already own, meet your requirements?  

hmm... if there is head scratching and shrugging of shoulders happening about now, it's time to learn more about what the current version of Db2 for i can do for you.

Revitalization vs. Modernization

More than a decade ago, we were introducing the idea of "modernizing" your database. Our goal was simply to get you to do more with Db2 by embracing true relational database constructs through proper modeling and design, move from application-centric programming to data-centric programming, make use of SQL as your language for interacting with Db2, migrate from record-at-a-time processing to set-at-a-time processing.

What was once called database modernization, we now refer to as database "revitalization". This term more accurately reflects what needs to be accomplished. Db2 for i is, and always has been, a "modern" relational database management system. That fact that you are not using it that way should in no way diminish the capability, nor tarnish the value, of the Db2 relational database management system you have in hand today.

Extending and expanding your database and data-centric programming capabilities is called database modernization.  Meaning, a modern database environment is comprised of many different data storage and data processing technologies that are fit for purpose and meet requirements. This can be referred to as a Polyglot Persistence Environment. This is a formal way of saying: store, process and access your data using the database system that best meets your needs, and using more than one is expected. In more practical terms, why try to store and process vast quantities of unstructured and unrelated data in a structured, relational database. It's better to use an unstructured, non relational database system instead.

What does your future look like?

It will definitely include the continued use of Db2 for relational data!

My prediction is that it will also include handling unstructured data using non relational, open source database system(s), on premise and in the clouds.  And that means, making use of an operating system other than IBM i. 

Let's be clear, if you are going to acquire, implement and make productive use of an open source database, you will use an open source operating system. The good news is, IBM Power systems run Linux, AND Power runs open source databases very well indeed.

Another important aspect... you are going to step up your database engineering. Embracing various and sundry forms of data storage, data processing and data access will require a lot more database science and art. If nothing else, you will need to sort out the database designs and architectures that will best meet your requirements, and guide the users toward those sources.

A Summary

And remember, modernization and revitalization is a process, not a product, and not a tool.

Modernization and revitalization involve not only applications and databases, but also:

  • Organization Structure and Alignment
  • Organization Leadership
  • Adopting and embracing new practices and new disciplines
  • Multi-dimensional communication

If you want to learn more about revitalizing and/or modernizing your database environment (including the people part of the equation), please let me know.  We are here to guide you, and assist with the journey!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Using SAP on IBM i?

Are you running SAP on IBM i?

If so, seriously consider attending the upcoming IBM - SAP on Power Summit event to be held in Rochester, Minnesota USA on April 26 - 27.

More details about the event can be found here.

Late April is a great time to visit SE Minnesota.  The snow should be melted by then!

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Few More Tools

In case you missed it, you now have a few more tools for your "hero bag".

Earlier this week, IBM announced the IBM i 7.3 TR2 and IBM i 7.2 TR6 with a planned availability date of March 17, 2017.  If you are still running on IBM i 7.1, nothing new for your kit.  Please get on with upgrading to 7.3. Even Superman needed a cape to be a hero...  just saying

As mentioned in the previous post, one of the very nice things you can do with DB2 Web Query is take advantage of the SQL based IBM i services available.  It is a quick and easy way to demonstrate more value. With that in mind, there are even more services available with the new technology refreshes.

A couple other interesting additions are some JSON functionality and IBM i Access Client Solutions (ACS) enhancements.  If you are not exploring the use of ACS to interact with DB2 for i, now is a good time start. I suggest making it part of your DBE toolkit.

With regards to JSON, document stores and unstructured, non-relational databases, look for more information and insight to come. The notion of employing "other" databases that have advantageous attributes and specific characteristics tailored to today's ever expanding data storage and processing requirements is something we need to illuminate and discuss. Stay tuned.

As usual, Mr. Forstie has done a very nice job detailing the technology refreshes for 7.2 here, and 7.3 here.  Check it out.

And if you have any questions or concerns as to how to take advantage of all the tools and techniques, please let me know.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Want to be a Hero?

If so, follow these simple steps to gain more visibility from your business leaders, and to demonstrate more value to your boss.

Sound good?

Ok, let's get started...

Step 1.

Go here and read how to obtain the DB2 Web Query EZ-Install.  Please be sure that you understand the pre-requisites and instructions before proceeding with the installation process.

Step 2.

Try out some of the reports included in the package.  Get familiar with the features, functions and graphical elements represented in the examples.  Step back and look at the capabilities in a broad and expansive way.  Think about what might be possible.  Now, determine what reports best exhibit positive characteristics and attributes that will resonate with your business leaders.  You want to illicit a "wow!, we can do that?" response.

Step 3.

Identify one or more key business leaders who you believe need or want more timely and insightful information.  Focus on the idea of providing new and different insight, in new and different ways, visually.  Make an appointment to demonstrate what you have in the package.  You want 30 to 60 minutes of uninterrupted time.  Your goal is to show the potential of providing a lot more capability, effectively, by using new tools and new techniques.  Ultimately, you are seeking a green light to pursue a proof-of-concept or proof-of-technology using your own business' data to solve a real problem.  And if they ask a question, such as: "can we incorporate weather data or ask Watson a question", answer "yes!".

Step 4.

Do the demo.  Show off.  Be positive.  Represent your ability to show real value.  After the demonstration has completed, thank the business leader(s) for his or her time and attention.  Declare that you will be following up with them to determine the next steps (for the proof), and that you look forward to working together in the near future.  Leaders do not ask for permission.  Be a leader.


Now that you have illuminated what is possible and easily achievable, keep up the momentum.  Define, design and initiate a meaningful project to do more with your data.  Team up with the business leader to provide him or her with more insight and information.  Be their partner.

To minimize the technical and financial risks, while simultaneously increasing the probably of success, reach out to me or Doug Mack.

We can provide all manner of direction, guidance and assistance with turning your data into actionable information.  This includes preparing you for that all important first demonstration and initial impression.

Fundamentally, we are here to help you succeed, and to make you a hero!

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Retirement

No, not mine. Someone much more eminent.

It's with very mixed emotions that I open the blog to my good friend and long time associate Mr. Dan Cruikshank.  Before I hand it over to Dan, a few words if I may...

I have had the pleasure and privilege to work with, for and along side Dan for 20+ years, on four continents. As with most people who have experienced Dan's unique wit and wisdom, I am better off for it.

If you have heard of database "modernization", you can thank Dan - he invented it.

If you have used IBM Data Studio, you can thank Dan - he was the first to promote it.

If you have applied data-centric programming technique, you can thank Dan - he championed it.

Needless to say, Dan's fingerprints are all over everything we do with DB2 for i.  Good for us!

Without further ado, here is Dan...



The time has come for me to retire. I wasn’t sure so I wrote the following SQL procedure for confirmation:

     IN p_Employeer VARCHAR(3),
     IN p_Emp_Key CHAR(6),
     IN p_Monthly_Retire_Income INTEGER,
     OUT Retirement_status VARCHAR(40))

Career: BEGIN
   FOR ever AS
      M_I_Done_Yet CURSOR FOR
     SELECT birthdate, salary
     FROM employee
     WHERE empno = p_Emp_Key
        IF p_Monthly_Retire_Income >= salary/12
          AND p_Employeer = 'IBM'
          AND YEAR(CURRENT DATE) - YEAR(birthdate) >= 65
                 SET Retirement_status = 'Congratulations';
             SET Retirement_status = 'Hang in there';
           END IF;
END Career

It appears I have met my goals.

In case you’re wondering, the above code and corresponding result were accomplished using the Data Perspective which comes with IBM Data Studio (and other IBM products).

I was fortunate enough to enter the IT industry at a time when the costs of owning a computer were drastically cut. The computer industry was in the midst of a revolution, and IBM Rochester was at the forefront with the introduction of the System 3. This system introduced the RPG language to a new breed of computer programmers; many like myself, did not have college degrees. Others had degrees in non-IT areas, for example accounting. I believe that there was one thing that we all had in common: we were the first wave of computer nerds. We were shy, introverted, acted inappropriately at times, were picked on and made fun of. The simplicity of the RPG programming language gave many of us a way to become heroes. How satisfying was it to take someone’s idea, concocted during a coffee or lunch break, and deliver a result almost overnight. We referred to that as “from napkin to code”. Today we call it “agile”.

The System/38 was called the programmers “dream” machine. It provided an interactive interface for coding, compiling, testing and deploying programs called the “Programmers Menu”. Who would ever need more than that? Then came the AS/400 and the Program Development Manager (PDM). Then came WebSphere Developer Studio client. Then came Rational Developer for i. Then came IBM Data Studio. Then came…  

I believe that RPG, DB2 and SQL were three of IBM’s greatest inventions. I worked hard to master all of them, and was fortunate enough to share my knowledge and expertise with IBM customers worldwide. I never considered myself to be a fantastic programmer. I was always better at fixing someone's program than writing my own. You know what they say “Those that can do, do.  Those that can’t do, teach”.

My career has been filled with many ups and downs. Let me share with you a few ups:

               Sometimes you must move on, in order to move up.
               When someone steps aside, be ready to step up.
               Do not be afraid to speak up, but learn when to shut up.
               Giving in is not the same as giving up.
               The tallest person in the room is the one who stands up.
               Fresh up with 7 Up.

I would like to thank all of the people who have benefited me in some way throughout my career. The list is much too long to show here, as it includes everyone I have ever worked with. You have all helped in more ways than you ever know. I only hope that the advice and guidance I have provided to you over the years has been more beneficial than not.

I am also grateful to those who have allowed me to do so much in my career, especially those I have worked with at IBM. Working for IBM is one of my greatest achievements, and I am proud to be retiring as an IBM employee.