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Conor O'Mahony's Database Diary

Your source of IBM database software news (DB2, Informix, Hadoop, & more)

Archive for May 2010

Chat with the Labs: Spatial Capabilities in DB2

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Increasingly, systems are taking advantage of information like office locations, sales regions, utility locations, real-time people locations, and so on. Even if you don’t currently use the spatial capabilities in DB2, there is a good chance you will soon. By representing data using the spatial datatypes, SQL queries can incorporate spatial functions to answer questions like:

  • Where are the nearest store locations or branch location for our customers?
  • Where are customers who may be interested in buying flood insurance?
  • Where are the patterns of high crime activity?

If you want to learn more about the spatial capabilities in DB2 for Linux, Unix, and Windows, then make sure to check out tomorrow’s Chat with the Labs. Here are the details for the Chat with the Labs:

Date: Thursday May 27, 2010
Time: 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM Eastern
Presented by: Sal Vella (IBM), David Adler (IBM)
Register at: Chat with the Labs: DB2 Spatial

 

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Written by Conor O'Mahony

May 26, 2010 at 9:24 am

Posted in DB2 for LUW

SAP Certification of IBM DB2 and Oracle Database

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I just saw some very interesting information that I thought was worth sharing. It concerns that amount of time that passes before a new major release of IBM DB2 and Oracle Database are certified for use with SAP. In the past, I mentioned the strong levels of collaboration between IBM and SAP, with SAP development co-located at IBM offices and DB2 development co-located at SAP offices. Well, naturally enough, this translates into fast certification of new releases of DB2 for SAP environments. Here is the data for Oracle Database:

Database release Available Certified Time Needed
Oracle 9i Jun 2001 Q1 2003 >1.5 years
Oracle 10g Jan 2004 Q2 2006 >2 years
Oracle 11g Jul 2007 Q2 2010 <2.5 years

 
And here is the data for IBM DB2 on Linux, Unix, and Windows:

Database release Available Certified Time Needed
DB2 9 Jul 2006 Aug 2006 4 weeks
DB2 9.5 Oct 2007 Dec 2007 7 weeks
DB2 9.7 Jun 2009 Aug 2009 8 weeks

 
You may be wondering why this is important. Well, first of all, if you are using DB2 then you get faster access to important features like compression advancements. Features that can have a significant impact on the amount of data storage needed, the time for backups, performance, and so on. In other words, with IBM DB2 you get much quicker access to these important and valuable features.

It also means that, if you are using DB2 and are planning enterprise-wide upgrades, then you have more freedom in moving to a newer version of the software for your SAP environment. And, don’t forget that all new software versions have a limited shelf life before they cease to be officially supported; reducing this shelf life by up to 2.5 years can complicate IT planning in many environments.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

May 24, 2010 at 11:52 am

Truth in Advertising – Oracle’s Claims about Performance and Energy Consumption

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Last year, I blogged about some issues regarding Truth in Advertising – Advanced Data Compression in Oracle 11g. Well, our friends over at Oracle are at it again. This time thay are making some questionable advertising claims. Here is the ad in question. From looking at the ad, you would think that an Oracle/Sun system gives you seven times the performance, while consuming one sixth the amount of power. Let me explain why this is MISLEADING.

Truth in Advertising - Oracle Claims about Performance and Energy Consumption

There are two claims here, both under the banner of being “independently verified.” The independent verification refers to the fact that it is drawing from TPC benchmark data.

The first claim pertains to performance. When someone mentions performance to me in relation to the TPC-C benchmark, I immediately think of the primary metrics, and in tpmC in particular. After all, this is a primary metric for a reason. tpmC represents the performance of the systems for all workloads (for the record, Oracle did outperform IBM by about 20% for tpmC). But, Oracle obviously aren’t looking at tpmC when devising this claim. Instead, they are focusing only on one subset of the performance numbers in the benchmark. In other words, if the TPC-C benchmark were like a triathalon, then Oracle did really well in one of the events. It is downright misleading for them to claim that a 7x lead in one event is indicative of their performance in the overall race.

By the way, you should also be aware that Oracle are comparing an older IBM system to their latest and greatest, which is questionable in its own right. With the rate of change in the industry, IBM’s 2008 result is not indicative of its performance levels today. In addition, the Oracle configuration actually uses 115 TB of solid-state disk (for a database size of 6TB). The IBM result does not use any solid-state disk, instead working with mechanical disks. Solid state disk manufacturers claim that their products are hundreds of times faster than mechanical disk. However, for Oracle, that translated into only a 20% lead over IBM.

But, believe it or not, this is not as misleading as the second claim pertaining to energy consumption. First of all, the TPC results being touted here were posted before the TPC-Energy metric was introduced and reported. This energy data is not coming from the TPC results. Putting this claim under the “independently verified” banner is simply misleading.

Let’s dig a little deeper and do some math with the server specs. Note that Oracle needed a cluster of 12 SPARC Enterprise T5440 servers for their benchmark result, whereas IBM needed only one IBM Power 595 server.

If you go to the Sun SPARC T5440 Power Calculator, you can see that a single server consumes between 1551 watts (idle) and 2002 watts (100% active). There are 12 of these servers in Oracle’s benchmark, which results between 18.612 KW and 24.024 KW of power consumption.

If you look at the same information for the IBM POWER 595, you will see that during typical usage a P595 consumes 18.5kW. At 100% utilization, it consumes 27.7kW.

That’s right, the Oracle configuration in an idle state consumes more power than the IBM configuration performing a typical workload. Oracle, please explain how you arrived at the 6x number in the ad…

Written by Conor O'Mahony

May 20, 2010 at 1:46 pm

More than 500 Companies Enable their Oracle Database-based Solutions to work with IBM DB2

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In case you missed it, IBM today revealed that More than 500 Solution Providers Adopt DB2 in less than 12 Months. This is actually referring to companies who originally built software solutions that worked with Oracle Database, and who now have enabled their solutions to work with IBM DB2.

You might wonder why they did this. Well, first of all, it’s now relatively easy to do. Just look at these quotes:

DB2’s PL/SQL compatibility is excellent. We’re looking forward to integrating the current dual source code base into a single one. This will increase our development and testing productivity. In addition, SQL compatibility is significantly improved. We ran an Oracle-version program ‘as is’ on DB2, and the test result was better than we expected. The compatibility level that DB2 9.7 achieved is amazing.
—Masahiko Kudo, Works Applications (Japan)

The IBM DB2 9.7 compatibility is amazing — and there are no queries or DB2-specific code in our applications! Everything is compatible with Oracle and DB2 9.7.
—Gene Ostrovsky, VP Research and Development, ExactCost

As a migration specialist, the new DB2 9.7 PL/SQL compatibility features help Oracle users migrate to DB2 seamlessly. These features drastically reduce the time required for migration efforts and significantly lower overall costs. The custom Perl scripts and defined manual workarounds, which I previously relied on for database porting services, are now obsolete. DB2 9.7 allows native support of PL/SQL, weak typing, enhanced locking methods and a vast array of other features designed to make database migration virtually effortless.
—Axel Puerner, Puerner Unternehmensberatung

Secondly, these companies now find it easier to sell their software solutions in IT environments that have, for whatever reason, standardized on IBM software or standardized on IBM DB2. It is a much easier sales process for these companies when they support the software that is already being used in that environment.

And finally, these companies get to partner with IBM, who have award winning partner programs that can help them market and sell their software products. For more information about the awards won, see Industry honors for IBM PartnerWorld.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

May 20, 2010 at 10:40 am

IBM DB2 adds “SQL Skin for Sybase ASE” to Ease Database Migrations

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IBM is continuing to play the role of liberator, allowing users who thought they were locked-in to another DBMS vendor to switch to DB2. Last year, IBM added support to DB2 for syntax and features that make it easy for users to switch from Oracle Database to DB2 (See PL/SQL Support in DB2 for more information). Today, IBM is announcing a new product feature that makes it easy for users to switch from Sybase ASE to DB2.

So, you don’t need to feel locked into Sybase ASE any more… you can now easily switch to IBM DB2.

The first thing I should point out is that the features that make it easy to move from Oracle Database are different from the features that make it easy to move from Sybase ASE. For Oracle Database, we built native support for the syntax and features that make it easy to move deep into the DB2 engine. Whereas, with Sybase ASE, we are using an emulation layer. I’ve got to admit that my first reaction to this approach was skepticism. I wasn’t sure how using an emulation layer would affect performance. However, the performance numbers that I have seen from clients are quite impressive. At one insurance company, they saw that DB2 outperformed Sybase ASE in all tests. The speed up ranged from taking half as much time at the low end to taking a small fraction of the time. It was quite startling. Although I must say that their move from Sun Servers to IBM Power Systems at the same time probably also had an impact on performance.

This new “SQL Skin for Sybase ASE” feature is based on technology developed by ANTs, who have a lot of expertise in off-Sybase migrations. This is the third generation of their technology. IBM is OEMing it, and selling it as an optional feature for DB2. And naturally, as it is an IBM product, IBM is offering support for the product.

So how does this work? Well, on the database client machines, IBM replaces the Sybase ASE client with a compatibility services client. And, on the database server, a compatibility services module runs in DB2. The new client hides the fact that the database, triggers, and stored procedures are now running on DB2 instead of Sybase ASE. Our experience thus far is that, for the most part, the application code remains unchanged. I am not saying there will be no changes needed. But, I can say that—from what I have seen of the Beta testing—such changes are relatively minor in scope. In the press release mentioned above, you can see that Tom Holdener of BJC HealthCare said that they migrated with “virtually no changes” and Jim Ofalt of The Pep Boys enjoyed “a seamless move to DB2 requiring no changes to the application.”

Sybase ASE uses T-SQL. For T-SQL that is immediately recognizable by DB2, the compatibility services will simply pass it through. For T-SQL that is not immediately recognizable by DB2, the compatibility services will “convert” it into an equivalent call that DB2 can run. Then it will call DB2, get the output, and send it back to the application in the format that the application expects.

For more information about this feature, see DB2 SQL Skin feature for applications compatible with Sybase ASE.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

May 20, 2010 at 10:18 am

Posted in DB2 for LUW, Sybase ASE

IBM Working with Apache Hadoop to Tackle Big Data

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Yesterday, IBM issued a press release that Unveils Software and Services to Help Organizations Make Sense of Their Deluge of Data. There is a lot of information in the press release. Basically, IBM is announcing IBM InfoSphere BigInsights, which is based on Apache Hadoop. So, in other words, IBM is announcing an offering that allows you to work with pedabytes of data. At present, IBM InfoSphere BigInsights consists of:

  • BigInsights Core, which is software and services for implementing Apache Hadoop
  • BigSheets, which acts as an insight engine for information in Hadoop. It’s a Web-based spreadsheet-like infrastructure for Big Data that includes a plug-in framework for analysis and presentation extensions. You can use BigSheets for extracting information, adding annotations, visualizing with pie charts, visualizing with tag clouds, and so on.
  • Industry-specific solutions for finance, risk management, and media.

You might be wondering what IBM is bringing to the table here, aside from experience with deploying Hadoop-based solutions. Well, IBM sees its role as making Hadoop enterprise-ready. This includes the kinds of things that IBM is good at, like creating software with robust quality, accessibility, and localization. But it also includes adding key features that allow you to fully leverage the information in a Hadoop environment.

IBM is working to provide integration with DBMS, ETL, and MDM systems. Remember, ideally you want such environments to work with both existing and new data repositories. After all, you don’t want to create yet another silo of information within your organization. It is only by working with all information at your fingertips that organizations can see the full picture, and make good business decisions. Which leads me nicely to the other big thing that IBM brings to the table–the ability to add business value to the Hadoop deployment with Cognos, SPSS, and ECM application layers.

You can see more coverage on this topic, including Cloudera’s reaction at IBM punts commercial Hadoop distro.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

May 20, 2010 at 9:29 am

Exciting New Contest for DB2 Users

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If you are a DB2 user in North America, make sure to check out the new contest over at the International DB2 User Group (IDUG). The contest is called Do you DB2? and includes prizes like a WiFi-enabled HD TV and exciting new Apple iPads. To enter simply tell IDUG exactly why you love working with DB2 in less than 1,000 words. The stories will be judged based upon originality of the content, efficacy of expression, and the use of proof points. It doesn’t matter what your scope or nature of experience with DB2 is, as long as your stories are memorable and unique you have a great chance to win.

Here are some sample topics that you could write about:

  • Usability, Performance, Scalability or High Availability of DB2
  • Features: Deep Compression, SQL compatibility, pureXML, security, autonomics
  • Cost or risk of migrating from another database vendor to DB2
  • Experience with the DB2 maintenance and support given by IBM
  • Proof points on why DB2 is the best database software
  • Stories about the reach and value of DB2’s worldwide community, forums, events or education

Make sure to get your entries in soon, as the deadline for entries is in June.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

May 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm

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