Administrating and Developing with Informix
Waiting at McCarran airport in a contemplative frame of mind for a flight back to Portland afforded some time to reflect on the recently completed IOD 2008 conference..
Sadly I did not get to attend as many talks or keynotes as I would have liked to this week, having had multifarious activities to work on or prepare for every day, but the main themes of the conference for me were...
Virtualization and Virtual Worlds
We announced the IDS 11.50 Developer Edition virtual appliancelast week and are seeing a lot of interest in it. Informix virtual appliances were present at various places in the conference Expo hall. I was manning the Intel booth where we were showing IDS and DB2 SLES 10 SP2 virtual appliances running under the VMWare ESxi hypervisor layer which comes optionally pre-installed on IBM Blade machines.
At the VMWare booth the first 100 people to fill in a survey were given cool looking 4GB USB drives containing the IDS and DB2 appliances. After that they were handing out DVD's.
Meanwhile at the Canonicalbooth they were demoing an Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron) version of the IDS virtualappliance. Those Canonical guys are fun to work with, and Ubuntu is hugely popular because, simply put, it's easy to use and itperforms well. Stand by for more newsabout Canonical and Informix in the near future.
Among the conference technical sessions we had an intro to the virtual appliance, and ahands on lab which provided an opportunity to play around and do some programming in the Data Studio environment that comes pre-installed on the appliance. On Wednesday eveningthere was a Birds of a Feather session where some interesting feedback was provided on what people thought of the initial virtual appliance developer edition, and what they would like to see as IBM extends its virtualization strategy for Informix. One thing thatwas great to hear in this session was the favorable response from people who have tried itso far. It works, it's easy to use.
It was interesting to learn how people intend to usethe current version of the VA. Someone from a "very large retail chain" mentioned that many of their vendors supply solutions in the form of self-contained virtual appliances these days, andit will be useful to him to give the IDS appliance to any of these vendors who claim theydon't do Informix and need a starting point for Informix application development.
Another use for the virtual appliance that is gaining traction is as a core part of the Informix academicinitiative. The components required to make IDS an excellent educational platformhave fallen into place in recent times. The first was the release of the free IDS Developer Editionin IDS 11. Now everyone had access to a free IDS edition with all features enabled.Now with a virtual appliance that contains the Informix development stack, pre-configured,in one place, along with getting started tutorials, it makes for a self-contained classroom and laboratory just waiting to have a database administration and programmingcurriculum developed around it. Here's another idea - when the Ubuntu IDS virtual applianceis available, install the Edubuntu package on it - then you have a state of the art educational aid for a range of age groups that also teaches database programming.
At the bleeding edge of Informix research Lance Feagan is doing some cool things with IDS and Virtual Worlds. Lance had a couple of very interesting presentations and demo's in this area which I'd like to post more about. In the meantime take a look at this recent IBM Database Magazine article Informix Dynamic Server bridges virtual and real worlds to get the idea.
I had an IDS on Windows Deep Dive presentation scheduled for the final 11:30 to 12:30 sloton the last day and was not especially expecting anyone to show up. Lucky for me 7 determined people turned out to see 56 slides of non-stop Windows - a mixture of IDS on Windows architecture, recent Windows specific features, notes on embedding IDS on Windows plus some performance and troubleshooting tips. That reminds me, I like the new name for Windows 7, Windows 7. Inspiring.
I have been known to fritter away as much as $10 when Ivisit Las Vegas. On Thursday evening I happened past a group of Informix slot machine junkies (Erik, Howard and Madison) and decided to throw caution to the wind and engage in a bout of reckless gambling. At $4 in it was not looking good, then I hit the jackpot and won $7. That was enough for me, I cashed out with a healthy profit. That's right, for a good time in Las Vegas don't hang out with me.
There were some fun parties at IOD (I hope there are no photos from the Halloween party). HP and Intel showed their renewed enthusiasm for Informix by sponsoring an IIUG reception. Check out Spokey's Informix Zone blog where he has kept track of who has posted photos.
Jacques Roy somehow managed to report on every day of the conference in his: Informix and Computing blog. If you are more of the visually stimulated type,turn to roving photographer and Frenchman Jean-George Perrin who has amassed a large collection of conference images on his Facebook site.[Read More]
This week I'm hanging around San Francisco, working at the Macworld Expo. IBM has pedestals for Informix, Rational Buildforge and Lotus Notes / Symphony (there is an announcement this week for Mac versions of the Lotus products integrated with Google and other calendars).
Here is a view from the Expo floor..
Venu, PJ and Terri trying not to scare people away from the Informix booth
Recently IBM has added a 32-bit Mac version of the Informix Client SDK (useful for Ruby developers) and made improvements to the IDS installer look and feel on Mac OS. We have a few demo's running this week.. a FileMaker application using an Informix backend, a high availability demo showing Mac based Mach11 and ER systems handling failover scenarios, an IDS virtual appliance guest OS running under VMWare Fusion acting as a client and using OpenAdmin Tool to administer IDS running on a Mac, and a Cocoa application written in Objective C integrated with ODBC which uses the Basic Text Search Blade to do freeform text searches on an Informix database.
The high availability theme will be continued on Friday at 1pm when Carlton Doe presents a session entitled Building Enterprise-class and Virtually Fail-safe Database Services on the Mac.
Certain people have accused me of being a PC and not a Mac. Maybe, but after spending some time tinkering with Xcode and seeing how fast IDS runs on it, the platform is starting to grow on me.[Read More]
Back in May I mentioned there may be a tech fair in Menlo Park later this year. I was a few miles out but if you're based in the California Bay Area mark your calenders for September 14th - the Bay Area Informix Tech Fair is going ahead in San Jose. This is an opportunity to spend a day learning about Informix topics from Advanced Support and Development engineers and meet other Informix users in the area. If you'd like to attend or have questions please RSVP..
FREE Informix Tech Fair
IBM Informix Advanced Support & Development Speakers:
Ajay Gupta, Guy Bowerman, Joaquim Zuzarte, Santosh Sajip, Suma Vinod,Vijay Lolabattu
Come and see demos integrating several application technologies.
Having a problem or question about Informix? Talk to an engineer and get free advice about your specific issue. Time is limited.
WHEN: September 14, 2006 9:15am - 4:30pm
4400 N 1st St, Suite 100
San Jose, CA 95134
Not finding a lot of time to blog from this year's IOD conference in Las Vegas yet. This is of course due to high workload and not related to unlimited free drinks in the Expo Center and receptions. Here is a quick personal view of some of the announcements from the conference so far, will hope to post more later.
Informix Application Development Website
The IBM website has a new portal dedicated to application development with Informix: http://www-306.ibm.com/software/data/informix/ids/ad/. This is a good place to get started for information on using Informix Dynamic Server with .NET, PHP, Perl, Ruby on Rails, IBM Data Studio, Java, EGL, ESQL/C and 4GL.
IDS Developer Edition - Free
At last... a free edition of IDS 11.10 for non-commercial use with no time limits. The Developer Edition will be downloadable from developerWorks and the IIUG website. Check the Developer Edition website for updates around November 6. The Developer Edition limits concurrent sessions to 20, CPU VPs to 1, memory to 1GB, database size to 8GB. Beyond this all IDS Enterprise Edition features are available including the Mach 11 replication features, built-in blades, Server Studio, J/Foundation etc. People have been requesting a fully-featured free edition of IDS for years, and the debate has continued this year so it's great to see this change in policy. If you're at the conference stop by the IDS booths at the Expo Center for a free Developer Edition DVD. IDS DE will initially be available for:
The release notes can be found here.
IDS on Mac
A free version of IDS 11.10 for the Mac OS is under development and will be available for the Developer Edition. There was going to be a demo of this in the exhibition center today, though I'm not sure the machine arrived. Watch the DE website for announcements.[Read More]
For anyone going to the IOD conference next week, here's a preview of the Developer Den sessions. Now that IDS 11.10 supports the DRDA protocol more common API technology is becoming available that was once only for DB2. The Developer Den format is a 30 minute presentation and/or demo followed by an open discussion. I am mostly interested in learning more about the Data Server Workbench and related technologies. Some of the new talks I'm hoping to get to see are:
There also talks by old favorites like Paul Watson on Advanced SPL, and Martin Lurie on the Google Maps API. I have a session on using chat bots as a database interface, where I'll try and convince you chat bots are the next big thing. A full guide to the Developer Den sessions can be found at the Technical Skill Building - Developer Den website.[Read More]
Yesterday was the last day to upload draft presentations for IDUG 2007 - North America (May 6-10), taking place in San Jose, home of the Museum of Quilts and Textiles, not to mention the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in Western North America, allegedly. So far I have uploaded 1 out of 3 drafts, and in the spirit of prevarication am now writing about it rather than finishing the job.
Browsing the conference grid I see there are 4 separate Informix tracks and plenty of new material. It's reasonable to expect we'll be learning a lot more about Cheetah (IDS 11.10). There is an early bird discount available until March 23rd.
The IBM Information Management Technical Conference 21-25 May 2007 in Düsseldorf, birthplace of Altbier and Kraftwerk, in that order, is currently gathering papers. Early bird discount lasts until February 28.[Read More]
Greetings from the IDUG/IIUG conference in Vienna where I'll be sending inaccurate reports from the conference floor (or the Kunsthistorisches Museum if I manage to sneak out). See http://idugeurope.blogspot.com/ for the official conference blog.
Attendees, with their shiny new IIUG Internet phones and laptop bags, began filling the key-note room at 9:30 for a welcome and introduction from Jeremy Dodd of the conference planning committe. This was followed by a key-note entitled "Information as a Service...A New Era in Databases" by Bob Picciano, IBM Information Management VP of database servers. As he reviewed the Information Management products DB2 Viper with XML support was a major theme, and equally prominent was IDS with its cost of ownership message, a review of the Cheetah announcement, a new and surprisingly artistic marketing video with some telling customer quotes.
After the day's technical tracks the exhibition hall opened, with Gösser on tap, snacks on trays and some interesting exhibits from Informix and DB2 partners. IBM's Informix booth has IDSAdmin for PHP, IDS 10.0 features and replication demo's.
Meeting so many people known only by email has been a real bonus. Instant messaging is all very well, but some things get sorted out a lot quicker face to face.
Jean-Georges Perrin gets to grips with 4GL to EGL migration..
The San Jose Informix tech fair attracted a mixture of customers (from as far away as North Carolina) and IBM engineers, including some old Menlo Park colleagues who have recently come back to Informix development and QA groups from other projects, and some new hires in the IDS development teams who came along for the day to get some training.
The day started with an introduction to IDS 10.0 new features, followed by an HDR overview.
Two demo's accompanied lunchtime pizza, an HDR set-up and operation overview to show it really was as easy as promised in the preceding talk, and IDSAdmin for PHP (formerly known as phpIDSAdmin). IDSAdmin is an administration tool which utilizes some of the features due in the next major release of IDS.
The afternoon sessions were "IDS and the Websphere MQ Datablade", "Application Optimization Techniques", and a detailed look into the IDS Optimizer, including some of the new features.
IIUG kindly supplied some gizmos to give away, and attendees who made it through to the bitter end were treated to pristine condition vintage Informix mugs recently unearthed by archaeologists from a time capsule.
I enjoyed spending a week in the Bay Area revisiting some old haunts. Not much has changed. Suraj still has spicy tea, Shoreline still has night herons, and the 101 still needs repairing.
Bay Area Souvenier Photo
Black Crowned Night heron at Shoreline
The IOD conference starts in Las Vegas on Sunday and this is the time of year when I glare enviously at anyone who doesn't leave everything to the last minute and isn't working on their conference sessions.
I am relieved that at least that my Hands on Lab: 1230 Getting Started with the IBM Developer Cloud and Informix Dynamic Server is complete (with a lot of help from co-author Yunming). It's been fun working on this lab and getting to use the cloud features.
What is the IBM Developer Cloud? The IBM Smart Business Development and Test Cloud site describes it as "a dynamically provisioned and scaled runtime environment that provides everything needed to develop and test application code". If you have not tried it, it's worth a look. It's in an open beta phase at the moment, which means it's free to create an ID and launch your own images. Another invite-only beta phase is scheduled to begin in December that will include many new features. In the lab we'll launch our own Informix cloud images, manage connectivity with RSA key pairs, set up web services, HDR and MACH11 on our cloud instances. In case I'm not shamelessly promoting it enough, I also plan to hand out free Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) vouchers at the lab, so if you're attending IOD come along to Breakers-C on Wednesday afternoon (2pm-5pm) and try it out. We'll also be demo'ing the Informix Developer Cloud image in the Expo hall at certain times.
If you're planning on being there, hope to see you at the Community reception at 8pm on Sunday.
Informix partner Bell Micro and IBM are teaming up to put on a community event for Informix ISV's, users and business partners in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, UK on November 12th 2009. This is how the agenda is shaping up: