Thursday, October 22, 2009

Social Computing from Mobile Devices in a Cloud Computing Environment for Advanced Analytics,,,

to make IT greener in reshaped data centers based on flash memory with activity monitoring for higher security. Yes, that is the stuff I will do next in my spare time because I am dealing with "Technologies You Can't Afford to Ignore".

Monday, October 19, 2009

What is the difference between a laptop and a mainframe?

Last week I told my wife that I could explain the difference between a laptop and a mainframe. After I was done she said that computer guys have a strange sense of humor. Here is how I explained it.

It boils down to: Never do this with a mainframe!

Hey, what's wrong with you?!?

Sometimes, you have to deal with stuff that is just wrong. Sometimes, it's not easy to even find out what's going on. And sometimes, there are small things that make a big difference...

In an earlier post I had described how an index over XML data can be used to clean up data. Today, I will focus on a neat feature that was added to DB2 9.5 Fix Pack 3 as well as to DB2 9.7. It is a stored procedure (SP) named XSR_GET_PARSING_DIAGNOSTICS. That stored procedure helps you to find out details on XML parsing and validation errors.

The SP has five input and two output parameter. The first is a BLOB with the XML document/fragment in question. The next two make up the XML schema's fully qualified name ( against which you want to validate or they can be NULL. The 4th parameter can be NULL again or should be the schemaLocation of the primary XML schema document. The last input parameter specifies whether to use schemaLocation information from inside the provided XML document (1) or not (0). If zero was specified and no schema name has been specified (parameters 2 and 3), then no validation is performed. This is exactly done (no validation) in our example:

call xsr_get_parsing_diagnostics(blob('<a>Hello<b>Another<c><c></a>'),NULL,NULL,NULL,0,?,?)

The last two parameters are the output parameters. The first is a placeholder for an output document (as VARCHAR), the 2nd the number of errors found in the XML document. The above call would produce an output like this:

  Value of output parameters
  Parameter Name  : ERRORDIALOG
  Parameter Value : <ErrorLog>
  <XML_FatalError parser="XML4C">
    <errText>Expected end of tag 'c'</errText>
[IBM][CLI Driver][DB2/NT] SQL16129N  XML document expected end of tag "c".  SQLSTATE=2200M

  Parameter Name  : ERRORCOUNT
  Parameter Value : 1

  Return Status = 0

The function is not just useful to deal with parsing or validation errors coming from your application data, but also if you have XML documents that are causing trouble in general.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Learn more about pureXML for z/OS and LUW

Susan Malaika is running a group called "pureXML devotee". What is it? Something to be afraid of? Fanatics you should avoid? The opposite is true (more or less :). In emails and meetings information about pureXML on both the mainframe and the distributed platform is exchanged and skills are deepened. In recent meetings XML storage and XML indexing on DB2 for z/OS were explained, earlier community meetings included storage and indexing on DB2 for Linux, UNIX, and Windows, as well as performance tips.

The next meeting will cover the XMLTABLE function with IBM experts joining from both products. Check out the details of this lively group at And when asked mention that Henrik sent you...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Teeth Whitening Tips and DB2 Express-C (and not Oracle 11g XE)

Recently, I stumbled over a so-called gadget that allows to add daily teeth whitening tips to my blog. How nice. But why would I want to have it on my blog? And are there that many tips that it warrants daily updates?

Today I was reminded about the teeth whitening because DB2 users have a lot to smile because of recent news and announcements (and white teeth may be of advantage on those group photos at the upcoming IOD Conference). DB2 users also have a reason to smile when reading the latest (no-) news on Oracle 11g Xpress Edition (XE). According to the Infoworld article, a no-cost edition of Oracle 11g is still a year out. Compare that with how quickly after the DB2 9.7 release the free DB2 Express-C was available. DB2 users can utilize it for developing applications, deploying it at no charge or even distribute it with their applications. And it is available on several platforms and operating systems.

BTW: Did I add the gadget to my blog? Check it out...

IBM Presentation Program / IBM Vortragsprogramm

IBM Germany recently started a presentation program called "IBM Vortragsprogramm". IBM experts are offered as speakers to interested companies or organization for free (panel discussions, talks, expert rounds). You can also hire me, too. The details are on the webpage which is in German.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mixing cookies, sales records, and DB2 pureScale

This is one of the many stories where personal life and IT life intermix - or is it even always the case? Today my post is about cookies (real ones, nothing about visitor tracking or search engine optimization, SEO), it is about the upcoming holiday season (or are we in it already?), and about database technology, namely DB2 pureScale. But let's get started with the cookies first...

In Germany and some other countries, we have some types of cookies which are only available in the Christmas/holiday season. One of them, and my favorite, are Speculaas (or in German Spekulatien). It's a spiced shortcrust biscuit and they taste very well on their own or when soaked in milk. As mentioned, they are only available throughout the "Season" which these days seems to be from September to December. My wife has been trying to keep the "Christmas is not in September" tradition. And so I have been arguing, pleading, begging for a couple weeks that Speculaas are just some regular cookies. I tried it by pointing out that there is nothing special about these cookies, they could have been sold out this year so far and that we are lucky to have them back. I tried it with arguing that if we don't buy them, they could be sold out by Christmas. Anyway, after much back and forth we now are close to opening the second box. I emptied most of the first box one morning last week in my home office when everybody else was out. My kids also seem to like Speculaas which makes it easier for me in the afternoons...

With Speculaas in the house and the shops full of holiday articles, it dawned on me that we are approaching the Christmas season (and in some countries, like the US, Thanksgiving or other big festivities coming up even earlier). This is the season where additional store clerks are needed and when additional processing power needs to be available for web shops, in the database systems, and all back infrastructure that enables the upcoming peak sales/revenue period. It's the time where sales records are reached and everybody is busy in doing their part to help the economy.

Last week, DB2 pureScale was announced. It helps to horizontally scale up database processing power and achieve high availability of the database system. The key is that new machines can be seamlessly added to a database cluster to increase the system throughput. While there may not be much performance needed in, e.g., Summer, peak performance is needed throughout the season. Using pureScale it is simple to added that needed additional capacity. While it may be possible to move to a bigger machine (vertical scaling), it is not practical in terms of effort or benefits. Having a DB2 cluster also helps with even higher system availability. With DB2 pureScale it is possible to quiesce one member (machine) and service it. Or if parts of your cluster fails, the others are still available and let your business continue. All this is transparent to the database application. It doesn't know whether it is running on a regular or clustered DB2.

Many new computers (desktops, laptops, nettops) are sold during the season, often replacing older, less powerful systems. If there would be something like DB2 pureScale, you would just add another module to your existing computer and add processing power. If one module is broken, your photos, videos, audio streaming, etc. would still be accessible and you could continue with parts of your processing power and repair the failing components. What a thought!

Now it is time for the morning coffee and some cookies (guess which!)...

Friday, October 9, 2009

First official word on DB2 pureScale

IBM now has a press release out on DB2 pureScale and related technologies. What I found impressive is the scale-up test to more than 100 Power systems with still a productivity rate of around 80%. More on DB2 pureScale and the technology over the next weeks.

The official website seems to be here: (I got a broken link when I clicked into the press release)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Diagnosis: Simple(r) Life

DB2 produces diagnostic information which is stored in "db2diag.log" files. Depending on the setting of diaglevel there is more or less information in those log files. Many DBAs have automated tasks to back up and compress and maybe eventually remove those files because they grow over time. On one hand, these files cause some (little) work, on the other hand, they are really handy if something goes wrong. The more information is logged, the faster they grow.
Now let's take a look at one of the many small, but useful new features in DB2 9.7: It's an instance configuration parameter named diagsize. It can be used to configure a max size for the diagnostic information and causes the diagnostic log to become a rotating log. If there is no need to keep old diagnostic information and with a limit set, DB2 will automatically remove the oldest log and recycle the space for the next/newest diagnostic log file.

With the improvement in place, my diagnosis is: Simpler life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Virtual machines, but real books, real products and - yes - really useful

Last month a new IBM Redbook titled DB2 Virtualization has been published. In the book the authors first explain what can be virtualized (servers, storage, network), then talk about about technologies related to virtualization. What I found very interesting was a longer section about sub-capacity licensing, i.e., how DB2 is licensed for some of the virtual environment (how you can save money or not), as well as an overview about the different virtualization products and solutions (incl. Power HyperVisor, VMWare, Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machine). That chapter also includes information about many great DB2 features, such as everything "autonomic", "self-", and "auto-".
The remaining chapters of the DB2 Virtualization book provide in-depth coverage of DB2 in several virtualization environments. Even if you are not planning on running DB2 in a virtual machine, I still recommend reading that book because it gives a good introduction into that topic combined with an overview of current technologies and products.

[More links on virtual appliances are in an older post.]

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A passive house in Fall / Unser Passivhaus im Herbst

It's Fall again and especially the nights are cooler - outside. While in houses in Germany the heating systems has been wakened up after the long break, our house is still warm inside. And we expect it to be like this without heating for the next month or longer. The thicker walls and better insulated windows protect the inside against the cold (sometimes down to 5-8 C / 40's F) that now is dominating most of the nights. With the Indian Summer in the small forest next doors, it's a time to enjoy the house and the inside temperatures.

Der Herbst ist mittlerweile deutlich spuerbar, zumindest draussen. Die Naechte sind kuehler geworden, zum Teil gehen die Temperaturen schon runter bis 5-8 C. In unserem Haus ist es nachwievor warm, die staerker isolierten Waende und Fenster zeigen nun, was sie koennen. Waehrend in den Haeusern von verschiedenen Verwandten und Bekannten z.T. schon seit ein paar Wochen die Heizung zeitweise ihren Dienst tut, war es bei uns bislang nocht nicht notwendig. Und ich erwarte/hoffe, dass es zumindest den Oktober ueber so auch bleibt. Auch unser Brauchwasser wird noch komplett durch die Solaranlage auf dem Dach erwaermt, was den Geldbeutel freut. Da kann man den bunten Herbstwald direkt nebenan noch mehr geniessen...