Conor O'Mahony's Database Diary

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

Archive for September 2011

Are your Data Animals Running Wild?

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Here is an amusing video that the IBM InfoSphere Information Server team put together. Information Server is IBM’s data integration platform. It includes DataStage, QualityStage, Change Data Capture, Business Glossary, Information Analyzer, Metadata Workbench, Federation Server, and more.


Written by Conor O'Mahony

September 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm

What Happens when you pair Netezza with DB2 for z/OS?

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The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) recently paired Netezza with their transactional environment, which includes DB2 for z/OS, and achieved remarkable results. Often when you read customer success stories, you are bombarded with metrics. The AARP success story has those metrics:

  • 1400% improvement in data loading time
  • 1700% improvement in report response time
  • 347% ROI in three years

But metrics tell only part of the story. And sometimes the story gets a lot more interesting when you dig a little deeper.

AARP had been using Oracle Database for their data warehouse. But their system simply could not keep up with the demand. As Margherita Bruni from AARP says, “our analysts would run a report, then go for coffee or for lunch, and, maybe if they were lucky, by 5:00 p.m. they would get the response—it was unacceptable—the system was so busy writing the new daily data that it didn’t give any importance to the read operations performed by users.” The stresses on their system were so great that in 2009 alone, their Oracle Database environment had more than 30 system failures. To compound matters, these system performance issues meant that full backups were not possible. Instead AARP would back up only a few critical tables, which is a less than desirable disaster recovery scenario. Clearly, something had to be done.

AARP chose to move their 36 TB data warehouse to Netezza. You can see from the metrics above that they achieved remarkable performance improvements. But what do those performance improvements mean. Well, for the IT staff, they mean that they are relieved of a huge daily burden. Their old system required one full-time database administrator (DBA) and one half-time SAN network support person. These people are now, for the most part, free to work on other projects. And more importantly, they don’t have to deal with the stress of the old environment any more.

But the benefits are not being enjoyed only by the IT staff. They are also being enjoyed by the business analysts, who according to Bruni “could not believe how quickly results were provided—they were so shocked that their work could be accomplished in a matter of hours rather than weeks that, initially, they thought data was cached.” She goes on to say that “one analyst, who is now a director, told us that he used the extra time for other projects, which ultimately helped him become more successful and receive a promotion.” Now that is what I call a great impact statement. The metrics are great, but when someone is freed up to do work that gets them a promotion, that’s a very tangible illustration of the difference that Netezza can make.

Another illustration of the difference is the impact it had on the group that implemented the Netezza system. As Bruni says “after we moved to IBM Netezza, the word spread that we were doing things right and that leveraging us as an internal service was really smart; we’ve gained new mission-critical areas, such as the social-impact area which supports our Drive to End Hunger and Create the Good campaigns.” It certainly looks like you can add IT management to the list of constituents who have had a positive career impact as a result of moving from Oracle Database to IBM Netezza.

For more information about this story, see AARP: Achieving a 347 percent ROI in three years from BI modernization effort.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

September 27, 2011 at 10:33 am

Demo: Using Hadoop to Extract and Analyze Unstructured Information

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Here’s a nice demo. It shows InfoSphere BigInsights, which is IBM’s Hadoop product. BigInsights is essentially Apache Hadoop together with extensions for installation, management, security, integration, and so on. The demo also shows InfoShpere BigSheets. BigSheets is basically an easy-to-use interface for creating and running Map and Reduce jobs. As you can see from the demo, BigSheets makes it quick and easy to apply text analytics extractors and filters to unstructured or semi-structured data. The demo itself shows how you can quickly analyze several aspects of revenue information pulled from earnings press releases. It even includes a nice round-trip to the annotated source data to see “why” certain conditions occurred.

Don’t forget there is no charge for BigInsights Basic Edition. You can freely download it from InfoSphere BigInsights.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

September 27, 2011 at 8:30 am

Benchmark Results for Informix TimeSeries in Meter Data Management

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AMT-SYBEX are a leading provider of platforms for traditional and smart metering. They created a Meterflow Benchmark to help customers choose the best underpinning infrastructure for their platform, and they worked with IBM to run that benchmark with Informix TimeSeries. I previous blogged about Why Informix Rules for Time Series Data Management. Well, the results of this benchmark further illustrate the benefits of Informix TimeSeries. The following quote is from the resulting AMT-SYBEX case study:

We believe that this represents ground breaking levels of performance which is ten times faster than other published benchmarks in this area.

As you can see, Informix is 10x faster than the leading database software they previously worked with. If you read the Executive Summary, you will also see that IBM Informix enjoys almost linear scalability when going from 10 million meters up to 100 million meters, which is a great testament to the efficiency of operation for Informix TimeSeries.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

September 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Netezza Video by DJ Steve Porter

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If you saw the NBA video mix ad campaign during last year’s NBA Playoffs in the US, you will be familiar with DJ Steve Porter’s work. It is a fusion of video remixing, together with his DJ skills. Even if you were not lucky enough to catch that ad campaign, you may have come across him from his many hugely successful viral videos on YouTube. Well, DJ Steve Porter has used his unique style to create a video for IBM Netezza. I think you’ll agree that it is not your typical corporate video.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

September 22, 2011 at 8:57 am

Posted in IBM Netezza, Video

DB2 and Oracle Database: An Autonomic Computing Comparison

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Wikipedia defines autonomic computing as “the self-managing characteristics of distributed computing resources, adapting to unpredictable changes whilst hiding intrinsic complexity to operators and users”. Both IBM and Oracle have added autonomic computing features to their database software products. On 29 September 2011, IBM will host a Chat with the Labs webcast where the hosts will compare the autonomic computing features of IBM DB2 and Oracle Database in the following areas:

  • Memory Management
  • Storage Management
  • Utility throttling
  • Automatic Configuration
  • Automatic Maintenance

You can sign up for the webcast at: DB2 and Oracle Database: An Autonomic Computing Comparison.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

September 22, 2011 at 8:30 am

Initial Thoughts on New Oracle Database Appliance

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I just watched the Oracle Webcast announcing its new database appliance. Here are my initial reactions.

I expected Oracle to announce a mini-Exadata, as had been widely rumored. However, as far as I can see, this is not a mini-Exadata. I don’t have details yet, but it does not appear to contain the Exadata storage-layer software. This is simply an Oracle Database appliance, or an Oracle RAC appliance. Nothing more. In other words, it is the fusion of Oracle software, Oracle hardware, and some support/services.

Because this announcement is really about making Oracle Database easier to deploy, I’m not sure it has much applicability for organizations with an existing Oracle Database set-up, unless they are planning a hardware migration. But judging from how this was presented and positioned, Oracle are probably focusing this product on channel sales, and making this as partner-friendly as possible.

I like that Oracle have followed IBM’s lead and added pay-as-you-grow licensing/pricing. In this appliance, you activate and license CPU cores as needed. Of course, IBM pureScale Application System already offers this. However, IBM does still have an advantage in this regard with its ability to seamlessly add or remove database processing capacity, with a combination of its transparent scaling and daily-based software licensing. In other words, you can purchase the DB2 pureScale database software licenses only for the days where you need the extra capacity. This is a great strategy for eliminating the over-provisioning of database software licenses just to deal with situations where there are significant short-term spikes in demand (like retailers around the holidays, for instance). For more information, check out the “flexible licensing” section of the following blog post: IBM Previews New Integrated System for Transactional Workloads.

Something that’s not clear yet are the growth options for these Oracle Database Appliances. At least from my initial look, there does not seem to be a seamless upgrade path to Exadata. It appears that if someone wants to grow from this appliance, it will not be an insignificant undertaking. Perhaps someone from Oracle can comment on that.

So, in summary, this announcement appears to simply be a packaging exercise by Oracle, where they have created a relatively straightforward database appliance. Your thoughts/reactions?

Written by Conor O'Mahony

September 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm

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