2023-09 Toronto visit

Ahhh! What a great time I just had in sunny ol’ Toronto. I was extremely happy to be back at the Central Canada Db2 Users Group (CCDUG) meeting for 2023 held at the BMO Institute For Learning. It has always been a fantastic venue for presenters and attendees, and this year we had the added bonus of a “Coyote” warning… fun fun fun!

The CCDUG is a two day, three track mini-IDUG if you like, and the organizers added onto the second day an AppDev track as well. So you had Db2 for z/OS, Db2 for LUW, IMS and AppDev – A very nice mix of things indeed!

Just the Facts, Ma’am!

I am mainly a z/OS style of guy (old school!) and so went for the z/OS track of course! It all started, as normal, with a keynote from Michael Kwok that was all about “accidental discoveries” and how these often have had a tremendous impact on the world. Examples included Penicillin and Microwave cookers. It also included Db2!

He highlighted the environmental factors required for innovation to succeed:

01 Have an open mind

02 Use Strategy as a filter

03 Commit

Open Minded?

For the first point, Penicillin, having an open mind was important when Alexander Fleming, in September 1928, noticed the effect that a mold had on his old petri dishes. It was having an open mind that enabled him to really see the very first antibiotic in action. Sadly, it took another 14 years before it was actually used in a pure form and yet another year before mass production started in the second world war.

Strategy is Everything!

Using Strategy as a filter was highlighted by looking at how Bill Gates took advantage of the CP/M creators Digital Research people’s failure to meet and agree a deal with IBM to discuss a new OS for the IBM 5150 PC. IBM then contacted Microsoft, who agreed to write PC-DOS which evolved into MS-DOS which basically started the modern PC world we all now know today.

Commit is Not Just a Db2 Verb!

Commit was all about the invention of Microwave Cookers! Percy Spencer working at Raytheon in 1945 was working with Radar sets using high energy magnetrons (A British invention, again in the second world war) and he noticed that a chocolate bar in his pocket melted. It took an awful lot of commitment to eventually get the product to market and it first appeared in 1947 as the “Radarange” at $5000, 3kw and was water-cooled!

Oh oh! IBM at Work…

Into these three ideas comes IBM! Back in the 60’s and 70’s, data centers started storing more and more data and Tedd Codd wrote down the rules of the Relational Data Model in his seminal paper “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks” in June 1970. Now back in those days, IBM was not exactly well known as being Open Minded, Strategic or Committed!

Then, a few extraordinary individuals pulled it all together to actually get what was called System R, the granddaddy of all Relational Databases, into existence, starting in 1974 and got its first customer in 1977. It still took another six years to actually arrive at DB2 in 1983, and ten years later, we got DB2 for LUW as well. The actual GA date of DB2 1.1 was the 2nd of April 1985.

So, basically, Db2 was an accidental discovery!

Then it Begins!

The sessions at CCDUG then all kicked off, so here is my list of the ones I either attended or read up afterwards (naturally, I cannot attend every session!) All are linked directly to the CCDUG website and I thank them for allowing public access!

Database Administration Enhancements of Db2 13 for z/OS from Robert Catterall. An excellent run through everything you need to know about Db2 13 including more PROFILE support. This is probably one of the most under-used Db2 features out there.

Db2 for z/OS 101: Buffer Pools and Group Buffer Pools from Tori Felt and Keziah Knopp. Was a highly entertaining 101 level intro to the complex world of Buffer Pools, Managers and disk usage within Db2 – Highly recommended as these little details easily get lost nowadays!

It’s AI Jim, but not as we know it! from me. Obviously, a fantastic presentation all about AI – truth or hype? 😄

Analysis of DEADLOCK IFCID 172 in SMF with no special tool and low cost from Xiaodong Ma. This was all about reading the bits and bytes from the IFCID to find *all* the blockers and waiters – not just the first two you get in the DSNT375I messages.

Who is afraid of DDF? from Toine Michielse was all about controlling your DDF workload simply and easily. Use of PROFILE is also recommended …

End of Day One

Then we had a very pleasant evening with the Vendor Expo and prize draws before retiring to the bar to drink some cold beverages and play pool!

Next day, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed we started off again.

Securing Db2 for z/OS Data: Encryption and Much More from Robert Catteral which contained a ton of great information all about encrypting and securing your data and communications – Great stuff!

An Audit a day keeps the lawyers at bay! from my colleague Ulf Heinrich listed out all the requirements for auditing a Db2 system from the auditor’s perspective. Including real-world examples and ending with a “how it looks in Zowe” bonus preview!

Db2 for z/OS Administrative and Developer tools strategy: Customer feedback, roadmap, and future direction from Sowmya Kameswaran was all about the ongoing project to unify the user experience in Db2. This includes the IBM Unified Management Server for z/OS, IBM Db2 Administration Foundation for z/OS, IBM Db2 DevOps Experience for z/OS, IBM Query Workload Tuner for z/OS , IBM Db2 Analytics Accelerator Administration services for z/OS , Zowe and IBM Db2 for z/OS Developer Extension! A ton of stuff here!

Partition By Range (PBR) and Relative Page Number (RPN) explained from Frank Rhodes drilled down into the nitty gritty details of PBG, PBR and the seven-byte RID!

Db2 For z/OS and Unicode – What you need to know from Chris Crone went into details about what exactly you need to know about UNICODE and how it affects you, your data, and your SQL applications! COLLATION_KEY is the really good one here!

Db2 for z/OS System Profile Monitoring: Overview and Db2 13 Enhancements from Mark Rader contained all the great new stuff in Db2 13 regarding PROFILE usage. Once again well worth a read as it is the best way to control DDF. Slide 15 is the highlight for me!

On the Application development front there were also a whole bunch of great presentations:

Db2 SQL and SQL PL – A Journey Through Db2 12 and 13 Functions Levels from Chris Crone where he runs through the new SQL and SQLPL stuff from Db2 12 before showing all the new stuff in Db2 13 as well.

Db2 for z/OS: REST and Hybrid Cloud from Tori Felt and Keziah Knopp was a huge presentation all about RESTful APIs and all the fun and games involved with them… Covered here was all the stuff on GET, POST, PUT etc. etc., also JSON, z/OS Connect et al!

Db2 Hot topics from Progressive Insurance from Bob Vargo and Dustin Ratliff. They discussed the challenges of how to get SQL Data Insights up and running and then got into FTB and PROFILE usage again (I love PROFILEs, have I mentioned this before?)

Explain explained from Toine Michielse. Does what it says on the side of the can! He shows, and explains, all the available access paths so that everyone is “on the same page” afterwards.

Bringing Db2 for z/OS-Based Applications Into the Modern Age from Robert Catterall where he showed the modern new way to access the data using REST services with plus and minus points of them. Then he went on to highlight the “new features” in Db2 for z/OS like System and Business time or XML columns and tables and finished off with a review of the advantages that SQL PL and Native SQL Procedures can give you.

DB2 SQL – go beyond the usual – My current TOP 40 SQL tips, tricks, and opinions from Brian Laube where he discussed all of the tricks and secrets he has learned over the years. Very worthy of a good read!

That’s all folks! I did not even mention all of the LUW or the IMS ones – Feel free to look for them as well if you are interested.

As always, a fantastic conference and I am already looking forward to the next one in 2024!


Roy Boxwell