This month, I am turning over my blog to my colleague Andre Kuerten from Software Engineering’s German Labs based in Düsseldorf, Germany. I challenged him to write a blog all about his experiences as a “first time IDUG EMEA attendee” and all that that entailed as I thought this would make an interesting read for us all!
I’ll be Back!
Have no fear, dear readers, as I will be back next month with our annual Christmas give-away. The first blog of 2023 will be my comprehensive review of the 2022 IDUG EMEA in Edinburgh and the surprises found there-in.
IDUG EMEA 2022 – First Timer Report
My firm gave me the chance to go the IDUG EMEA, additionally taking a Saturday workshop to educate myself in all things SQL. Surprisingly, my wife gave approval! Therefore, “the guy from techsupp” that I am, planned the trip to Edinburgh with all the hotel and flight bookings etc.
Unexpectedly, everything went smoothly and so I was standing in front of the Edinburgh International Conference Center (EICC) on Saturday morning, ready for my first IDUG in person after working for more than 15 years in the Db2 business, professionally developing software.
The general plan was for me to learn, or refresh my knowledge, about query optimization and finding the cause for poor performing SQL to be ready to work a little bit more intensively in this area. The first decision made was that I will take part in the “Query Optimization and Tuning Workshop” that will take the complete Saturday, covering themes like statistics, cardinalities, optimizer stuff, query EXPLAIN and strategies for performance tuning.
I entered the EICC and was registered by the very friendly and helpful IDUG employees, got my badge and a bag filled with little goodies – I think the practical value of the umbrella was unbeatable.
When looking around I have to admit that the EICC is a nice venue. Right behind the entrance is a big hall on the ground level which opens up for you, they arranged some high tables to put down your water/coffee, just a few more chairs would have been a good idea. But I was impressed by the sheer size of it all.
Sched is Your Friend!
The rooms all had Gaelic names, you just had to locate them on the map, so everything could be easily found. The Sched App was a perfect addition to the printed schedules, it made it very easy to get the day organized and to know where to go next. I really liked it and the connection to the website.
Workshop – z/OS???
Took the escalators to “Carrick” and got a seat in the workshop, looked around and discovered the usual mix of technical geeks, where the average age seems to be a little low… Additionally, there was no work station or material lying around that we would have to work with during the day (I had been told by the experienced colleagues that I would really have to work at the workshop), so I started to wonder… Chatting with some of the people in the room was fine, and I was glad I was not the only first timer (I must admit that I didn’t apply for a first timer badge, I do have my limits). Then it started. Instead of the expected z/OS hands-on workshop it slowly turned into an LUW daily presentation… At least I was not alone, as another z/OS guy was also not expecting LUW. It had not been made clear at early registration time that this was going to be just an LUW workshop. Anyway, since the topic was “SQL”, there was still valuable information here. So I listened and concentrated and got new ideas about how to start with SQL optimization and where to look first, starting from query optimization basics, discussing some database design alternatives and ending with cardinality estimation.
After a small lunch, taken in the big hall, the afternoon session started and was now going for the optimization of various operations like Scans, Sort, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE and queries with outer joins, aggregation, distinct, correlated subqueries etc. I just had to take care to keep focused while the knowledge was being distributed. I think this would have been much easier if we could have done some practical exercises.
At the end the feelings about the workshop were a little bit mixed, but overall positive.
The Roy arrives
Starting in the late afternoon, I kept getting status messages from Roy (Boxwell, just in case anybody knows him 😊) who was on his way to Edinburgh, so our team size doubled in the evening.
Since my firm was a vendor at the IDUG I also got some experience from building the booth (where I really have to say thanks to the people from the EICC for all their help and kindness) and running it.
On Sunday the first normal IDUG Sessions were starting, I made it to the initial key-note in the “Pentland Main Auditorium” titled “Why Some Teams Are Successful While Others Struggle”, it was interesting, even though it was not a direct technical approach, it was about the people that you are working with and trusting your team. The auditorium (more like a cinema theater) was half full and they mentioned that we were 350+ onsite visitors which I found a good number, however I was told that there used to be many more in the past.
The next session, “Db2 13 for z/OS and More!” was summing up what I already knew from all the announced Db2 13 features, remarkable was one of the presenters, Haakon Roberts, he really did an excellent job and, looking back, I would say that his accent was the best that I heard during IDUG.
Noteworthy is that you soon get used to listening to speakers with different, strange to me, accents very fast, even if you are not a native speaker. This had been one of my fears beforehand which was, luckily, unfounded.
Back to “Carrick” and into the “Back to Basics: High Performance Application Design and Programming” presentation held by Tony Andrews. I mention him because of a reason: As expected the sessions differed in presentation style, quality of presentation etc., this is what you can tick on the evaluation cards. But the best ones, for me, were the ones where you could feel that the speaker was really deeply involved in the work with Db2 and knew what they were talking about like in this session, I heard a lot about the little things like row size, clustering order, all from a practical view, which was all very useful.
“Do I Really Need to Worry about my Commit Frequency? An Introduction to Db2 Logging” confirmed my impression that the commit frequency is something to worry about, but the afternoon highlight was “COBOL abound”, demonstrating how you can develop in COBOL these days, of course, not only on the mainframe , but using Zowe (which I also use and explore at my firm) and the containers you can get there. This was really fascinating, although a little bit special…
Day 3, Monday, I also went to the key-note “Behind The Birth Of An Accidental Enterprise”, covering some history of Db2’s evolution.
When talking about the next one, “Getting RID of RID Pool RIDdles”, I have to mention that this was done by two speakers and one of them, Adrian Collett, is known to me, we have worked together with some trial installations.
This was one of the big points: To meet people face to face for the first time, or again after the pandemic, especially customers who I have “talked to” for many years via email or telephone. I got the impression from everyone that they liked it very much to attend in person again.
The presentation itself shed some light on RID pool monitoring and tuning.
Sadly I have to say that this session was one of those that had to “speed up” towards the end (which was not Adrians fault!), so I am really looking forward to getting my hands on the PDFs as some speakers simply ran out of time and then rushed through their presentations. Also the notes taken correspond to slides that I need to see again, so this service (providing the presentations) should be continued for attendees, maybe IDUG could be just a little bit quicker making them available.
The next, very interesting, one was “Access Paths Meet Coding” which gave me practical insights about how to control some basic SQL rules which must be respected and how big the effect of it is in a productive environment.
Then it was already Tuesday, off to listen to “SMF Records, IFCIDs, Trace Classes – What Does it all Mean?” which was obligatory for me, IFCIDs are utilized broadly in our products.
It should also be mentioned that, in my eyes, the technical equipment provided for the speakers was more than sufficient and the audio control was done by, always available, technical stuff from the congress center making a very good impression.
“Get Cozy with Traces in Db2 for z/OS” reminded me of one way to get worthwhile information about what is going on (or going wrong) on the system.
I have worked with Db2 for some time “in real life” so the next sessions did not have very much new info for me, but I still took notes for “Partitioning Advances: PBR and PBR RPN”, “How to Keep Bad SQL Out of Production” and “Your Statistics are Safe with Me, Statistics Profile Revealed” and have to be checked again.
And the Oscar goes to…
For the evening, the IBM Db2 appreciation event was announced, so we took a walk after the conference day ended up going to the National Museum. The National Museum was, of course, closed when we arrived, so we ended up waiting in the crowd for something to happen. A bagpiper started to play: a perfect introduction for the evening. Worthy of note was the AC/DC part. Finally we made it to the grand hall, perfect location and ambience, food and drinks really well arranged.
Most impressive for me, was the lifetime award for Mr. John Campbell (he had already been honored previously at a keynote). Even I had read a lot from, and about, him (and the respect shown towards him from all of the audience was also good to see). At the end even Roy got an award: he did well as a “newbie” champion. I think they simply forgot to announce him for “some” years. Deserved without question, but why must he get a trophy for his desk that we have to look at (and that is mentioned by him) every single day?
Back to the IDUG content on the next, and last day, Wednesday:
The last sessions for me at the IDUG were at “Moorfoot”, “Sidlaw” and “Kilsysth” rooms to be visited, following my path of getting new input to solve performance issues, “Db2 SWAT Team Perspective on Db2 13 Features that Maximize Continuous Availability” gave me an outlook to the future at customers sites.
“The Exciting Journey Towards DevOps on the Mainframe” also explained some “modern” approaches. I regretted, a little bit, that I didn’t go to Roy’s “Esoteric functions in Db2 for z/OS“, instead I took “Explain explained” which was a bit of a basic session, getting the attention back to the little EXPLAIN data details.
At lunch time a, from my point of view, very interesting conference ended, giving me a lot of valuable information and “face-to-face” contacts, some minor negative items are normal I guess, but generally I really appreciated it.
So there you have it!
Many thanks to Andre for writing all that up! Coming soon will be Roy’s take on the EMEA 2022 where I go into technical details about the sessions etc.
I hope you enjoyed the guest blog this month and, as always, let me know what you think!
Roy Boxwell & Andre Kuerten