Just announcing that I have finally joined the rolls of "those idiots who
blog" as I used to say (cannot comfortably say it any longer I guess).
Administrating and Developing with Informix
The International Informix User Group (IIUG) conference ended on Wednesday, followed by a well attended Customer Advisory Council meeting on Thursday.
It was a good conference and I'm looking forward to being able to download the conference material from the website. As usual I didn't make it to many sessions except ones I had to moderate. This at least enabled me to catch up on the work Informix has been doing with VMware on performance best practices in a presentation by Sreeni Paidi from IBM and Robert Campbell, a VMware technologist. The fruits of this endeavor will soon be published as a white paper.
Two of the speakers at the conference have started blogs this week. I have been mentioning a plethora of blogs started by IBMers over the past few weeks, and it's good to see more Informix related blogs started by Informix experts in the wider community.
Database and Baseball stuff
The most entertaining presentation at IIUG had to be Mike Magie's Informix in the Everyday World - Moving from 10 to 11. Mike works for consultants SAIC at the USDA and took us through some stories of his Informix DBA experiences, and also contrasting Informix features and architecture with SQL Server. Mike had the audience laughing throughout the talk, once his wife got him a working laptop. Anyhow, getting to the point, he has also started a new blog: Database and Baseball stuff, It begins with a discussion of the new External Tables feature in IDS, showing the phenomenal unload performance it delivers, a later post will discuss loads.
There is also some stuff about baseball, I remember seeing something about pitch macros before I fell asleep.
Informix: Art Kagel's View
Art Kagel, Informix guru currently working for Oninit has announced a blog, in his own inimitable style..
The Informix technical writing team, obviously envious at are amazing riting skils, have decided to get in on the act and start their own blog.
The blog, inappropriately named, Appropriate Content can be found here. It begins with an introduction to the team, where I learned that many of our technical writers are in fact real.
I enjoy working with the writing team, and I'm always impressed how quickly they can convert the obscure mumblings of engineers and incomprehensible technical specifcations into lucid text. I'm looking forward to reading more.
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The IIUG conference is next week and our user-friendly Usability guy Howard Glaser has shared some details about the Usability Sandbox sessions that are taking place. The feedback from these sessions goes directly to Development and really helps us understand your needs and concerns. Many of the features we are working on for Panther release of Informix came out of usability sessions that were conducted over the last two years.
Here are the details, and don't forget the free T-Shirt!
Today the Informix 11.50.UC6 Developer Edition Ubuntu packages went live on the Ubuntu Partner Repository.
These packages are the easiest way to install Informix products on any platform.
As my screen shot shows I upgraded from UC5, and as one comes to expect with Ubuntu packages the upgrade was quick and painless.
To see the Informix packages in the Synaptic package manager, go to Software Sources->3rd Party Software and enable the Ubuntu Hardy Partner repository. More detailed instructions, including how to install these packages on later versions of Ubuntu (by default these are for the Hardy - 8.04 LTS release) are available in my earlier post.
If you are wondering when we are going to support later versions of Ubuntu which don't require libstdc++5 to be installed, the Panther release of IDS expected later in the year will dispense with the libstdc++5 requirement and support the next Ubuntu Long Term Support release 10.04 LTS.
The IBM Development and test cloud is currently in Beta, which means you can sign up and try out its services for free. A pre-configured SLES based Informix appliance image which contains similar components to the VMware based Informix virtual appliances is available for use in the Developer in the cloud .
If you are interrested in finding out more about the Informix image, a good way to start is by signing up for an account, starting an instance, and then viewing the recently uploaded video showing the Informix Virtual Appliance Cloud Demo...
The video demonstrates the basics of how to use OpenAdmin Tool to configure Informix v11.50 instances running in the Cloud including setting up a high availability cluster.
Informix advanced support engineer Yunming Wang has recently published a developerWorks article on getting started with and using the Amazon Web Services Informix machine images: Informix application development and testing on the cloud - Using IBM Informix Dynamic Server and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
In a succinct 7-page tutorial style Yunming covers the steps from signing in for the first time, launching an Informix image, connecting using SSL, starting a VNC server, and getting to know the application development components provided with the Informix images.
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The latest issue of IIUG Insider includes an open letter to the Informix community and clients, from IBM's Information Management VP Robert Thomas. In it he outlines IBM's strategy for Informix, one of delighting the install base, building strategic differentiation, creating a proactive culture and building revenue streams.
You can find the letter here: http://www.iiug.org/Insider/insider_mar10.php#2.1
If you were to install the Cognos Express Business Intelligence and planning application you probably won't notice Informix Dynamic Server being installed as its default embedded content store at the same time. Under the covers Cognos Express uses the Informix Deployment Utility (DU) to silently and rapidly deploy a pre-configured IDS instance.
In IDS 11.50.xC6 this technology is available as part of the product for all platforms. The basic concept behind DU is that you set up your Informix instance on one machine. Configure it, create and populate databases if required, and then copy your Informix directory and dbspaces and bundle it with your application. Your application can then silently deploy the pre-configured instance to any machines it installs on by calling DU (the executable is called ifxdeploy). At deployment time DU will unzip the instance, create the informix user, set file permissions, set any instance specific settings for the machine such as the instance name, listening port etc., and optionally relocate data chunks, so if your application deploys pre-configured dbspaces in a new directory the root space will be updated to reflect the new location of chunks.
To help get started with the Deployment Utility, Informix enablement consultant Sreeni Paida has published a new developerWorks article:
Automate small footprint, embedded Informix Dynamic Server deployments - End-to-end embeddability for IDS deployments on Linux, UNIX, and Windows using the IDS Deployment Utility and Embeddability Toolkit.
This article covers end to end Informix deployment scenarios for UNIX and Windows:
1. Installing Informix on a "template" machine.
2. Reducing the instance to a minimal footprint.
3. Packaging the instance and data.
4. Deploying the instance and data on target machines.
There is also active research going on to make embedded IDS deployment easier, that is taking as many of the manual steps out of this process as possible, to reduce both application developer time, and the amount of application installer code required to deploy IDS as an embedded database server.
If you embed IDS in your application or are thinking of doing so, it is worth taking a look at this technology to see how it can make the installation component of integrating with Informix easier.
IDS 11.50.xC6 recently release in Decemeber has some useful new features and I can think of no-one better than Cosmo, AKA Simon David to tell us about them. Please join Cosmo at the next Informix Chat with the Lab on Mar 23rd to learn more.
Here are the details..
Topic : What's new in IDS 11.50xc6 ?
IBM IDS 11.50 release has been enhanced with new functionality to timely meet several customer needs. These features cover a range of areas, further strengthening IDS position by improving on Availability, Performance & Administration.
Presentation material will be available at www.ibm.com/informix/labchats prior to the event.
Questions, comments or to be removed from this distribution: firstname.lastname@example.org
To register for this event, use the following link:
If clicking the above link does not work, please copy the entire link and paste it into your Web browser.
Bruce Weed, who leads Informix marketing strategy for Informix and IBM Information Management Business Partner Strategy, has started a new blog: Bruce Weed's Blog. In his first post he threatens to share thoughts, experiences, and conversations about Informix and Information Management channels and begins with an interesting analogy about multi-talented olympic snowboarder Shaun White and how he chooses to focus his talents. I'm looking forward to part two of this when Bruce finds another can of Red Bull..
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A new starter page for Informix software sprung up on IBM recently. Check out: http://www.ibm.com/software/data/informix/discover-informix/index.html
The site covers the Informix value proposition: Hassle Free, Reliable, Agile, Everywhere, with links to quickviews of some of the companies who moved to Informix. Also on this site includes an invite to a kick-off event in New York with Arvind Krishna IBM Information Management General Manager and other IBM execs which takes place on March 16 2010.
Informix blogs are spreading like a nasty rash, except nicer (note to self: come up with better analogies).
Informix chief Architect Kevin Brown has begun blogging on developerWorks. In his first post he makes the case for blogging about Informix, and goes on to describes his experiences in China. I hope we here more about Kevin's sojourns in China, I've read some very interesting, and encouraging trip reports from him in the past. Welcome Kevin. You can follow his new blog here: https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/blogs/IfmxKbrown/
Great news for people who are bored of reading insipid mediocre blogs like this one. Three new Informix blogs have sprung up on developerWorks for our reading pleasure..
Fred Ho leads the IDS Competitive Technologies team, and despite his self-effacing first post has a wealth of experience and expertise, particularly in areas such as data warehousing and business intelligence. Fred will be enlightening us with more of what the competitive team gets up to in subsequent posts.
Keshav is the Informix architect for SQL and Optimizer and is responsible for designing many of the SQL and performance features and enhancements we've seen in recent versions of IDS. He also has interests in diverse areas such as IBM Smart Market and cloud computing. In his first post he has found an interview with Roger Sippl, venture capitalist and founder of Informix.
Jonathan Leffler's is our security architect, and the guy I tend to go to when I have obscure questions on SQL syntax and 4GL. His new blog: Ruminations on Informix begins nice and technical with the question of where to put $INFORMIXDIR.
Welcome to developerWorks!
The IDS 11.50.xC6 virtual appliance is now available to download here:
This can be a very useful environment to test IDS 11.50.xC6 features since IDS is pre-installed and configured. It is also a ready to use development environment - the tools you need to do development are installed (CSDK, Data Server Drivers (incl JDBC, ODBC), PDO. Optim Data Studio.
IDS 11.50.xC6 had several new features you can become familiar with using this virtual appliance. A good place to see a summary of the 11.50.,xC6 IDS features is from a write-up that appeared in the Informix Zone blog: http://www.informix-zone.com/node/912
Note that several different editions of the virtual appliance are created, all are currently based on SLES 10 SP2 and all are free.
The choices are: 32 bit vs 64 bit. VMware Workstation format vs ESX. Self-extracting executable for Windows or Gzipped tar file.
Make sure you download the right one.
If you're a Java developer and you need JDBC 4 features like auto-loading, SQL exception handling enhancements, XML support, DataSet implementation of SQL, it makes sense to use the JDBC 4 compatible IBM Data Server Driver with IDS instead of the Informix JDBC driver. There are various other good reasons for switching to this driver, and the Feb 24 Chat with the Lab, starring the IBM JCC Development Manager Satheesh Bandaram, will look at the top 10. Below are the details..
Early Validation Program (EVP) releases of the next major release of IDS will be available to test soon. If you want to keep up to learn about and prepare for the very latest features this is a good opportunity to participate.
Here is the IDS Early Program announcement:
Also for more information about the program go here:
HP have released a new white paper entitled: HP Integrity Virtual Machines Online Migration with IBM Informix Dynamic Server 11.50 .
HP Integrity Virtual Machines provide the ability to migrate a running virtual system from one Integrity machine to another, keeping the application, workload, and operating system running on the system. This can be done on all Integrity servers and allows for (among other things) a very flexible operating environment, high availability and rapid provisioning.
This white paper takes you through the basics of Integrity VM, Online migration, IDS and what you need to know in terms of setting it up. It also takes the reader through a series of 9 test scenarios, including high availability scenarios such as HDR and IDS clustering technology (MACH11).
It's been a while since I've worked with the ZK programming language (or Rich Internet Application framework) so it was nice to get an opportunity to play around with the latest release. To ease myself back in gently I wrote a simple letter frequency analyzer to help with solving ciphers (note this post is not Informix-related for a change)..
The current release of ZK is 5.0 RC2, and I notice it is now split up into a free community edition, and commercial professional and enterprise edtions. The free edition no longer includes JFreeChart but fortunately it does include FlashChart which provides basic charting capability and is very easy to use. (Click on the image to view it full size):
The program is only about 40 lines so all the code can be self-contained in a single .zul file to be deployed under an app server such as Tomcat.
First I'll write the presentation layer which consists of a text box, a button and a chart:
Next comes the Java code that is executed when the "Calculate" button is clicked. This reads the text in the "targetText" texbox, counts the frequency of different letters and feeds it into a chart which is associated with the "chart" FlashChart:
That's it. In my case I created a "freq" directory under my Tomcat webapps path, copied the above code in as index.zul and created a WEB-INF sub-directory as per the ZK Quick Start Guide.
Overall I like the look and feel of ZK 5, it is smoother, faster and slicker looking than earlier editions.
Two useful IDS security resources have recently been published..
1. developerWorks Article:
Protect your data with Secure Sockets Layer support in Informix Dynamic Server, Part 1: Setting up SSL support in IDS by IDS security engineers Manoj Mohan and Lynette D. Adayilamuriyil .
This article takes you through the basics of setting up encrypted database communcation using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which begins with requesting a Digital Certificate. The digital certificate is used to exchange keys at the beginning of an SSL connection, after which a random symmetric key is generated. The article also has a section on troubleshooting SSL in IDS.
Update: The article is here.
2. Audio replay and slides available for IDS Security Best Practices chat with lab.
IDS Security Architect Jonathan Leffer presented this topic at the Chat with Lab series on December 16th. The audio replay and slides are now available here: http://www.ibm.com/informix/labchats