Big data in motion
I've been silent for quite a while. That does not mean I have not been busy!
A lot of efforts has been put on TimeSeries over 11.70.xC3 and 11.70.xC4 and we are still going full steam ahead. We continue to improve its performance, scalability, usability and functionality.
I wanted to put together a repository of information so people can find it all (or most of it in one place. For this purpose, I put together a wiki on developerWorks that is dedicated to The smart meter support. It is still a work in progress but I believe it is a good start. you can find it using the tinyurl: tinyurl.com/InformixSmartMeterCentral.
Let me know what you think.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 2,800 Visits
These are two concepts I've been reading about lately in a book from Eliyahu M. Goldratt (The Goal).
It's interesting to read that a system throughput is determined by its slowest component. Of course, that's something we are familiar with in database management: we want to optimize the I/O to get better performance. What I found more interesting is that when an event is delayed, it can have a direct impact on the overall system throughput. For example, if the slowest component is delayed, it represents a direct loss to the system. In other cases, other components can take a long time to catch up after a delay.
One key to all this is to look at improving the entire system and the way to do it is to find out where the bottlenecks. Once they are found, we must figure out how to make sure they are not idle waiting for something to happen and that they don't do extra work.
This seems to be a lot of what an Informix DBA does when there are performance questions. I could easily point to disk fragmentation by expression, use of prepared statements and so on. The thing is that I've also seen other situations where people point to the database as the source of the bottleneck to find out that it is outside the database. I've seen issues of network and recently I was told by a customer that they must have a specific response time because the transaction already takes 3 times that before outside of IDS. IDS has to sprint because the other components jog.
In another situation, I found that what the customer was seeing as one database requests turned out to be over 100 SQL statements. The kicker was that most statements were unnecessary.
Next time people point to the database as the problem, make sure to get the complete picture from end to end.[Read More]
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 2,797 Visits
Wednesday started with an Informix "eat and meet" breakfast followed by nine different Informix sessions spread throughout the day. My favorite session was: "How Hildebrand and IBM bring smart metering to homes across Britain". It was very interesting to see a real-time system where people can see their power consumption and compare it to a pool of similar housed to see how they are doing. The system does not only measure the total consumption at a home but can break it down to specific outlets. For example, some people were able to find out that their energy consumption was greatly impacted by their use of hair straitening devices. Another person could find out that they spent around 250 pounds per year to run their old refrigerator. Buying a new one for 200 pounds made it pay for itself pretty quickly.
Of course, the other presentations were also interesting. They covered areas such as building data warehouse, grid-based replication, Informix in the cloud and more.
An additional 11 sessions were held on Thursday to wrap up the conference.
The one thing that is hard to measure at a conference like this is the value of the interactions with other people. Discussions on different interests and new challenges, and also how Informix has been used. This ties into what I mentioned in this blog on Oct 9. Good ideas come form people interactions. The conference provided a good environment for that. This was a great conference and you can expect interesting things coming out of the Informix lab in the future. I'm sure we'll have a lot to say next time we meet: The International Informix Users Group (IIUG) conference in Overland Park, Kansas, that will be help between May 15 and 18, 2011.
Someone asked me the following question:
"How do I keep passwords in the database so nobody can get them?"
It means that we cannot keep the the passwords in plain text in the database. Informix has a few functions that can be used for encryption: ENCRYPT_AES and ENCRYPT_TDS. It would be easy to create a table and encrypt the column that contains the passwords.
The next statement that came up was: "..but, if someone has the encryption password, he can get all the passwords. We need to protect the passwords from internal access".
This means that we need to use a different password to protect each password in the table. The solution I proposed was to use the password to encrypt itself. Let's look at an example:
CREATE TABLE passwd (
INSERT INTO TABLE passwd VALUES(1, ENCRYPT_AES("Jacques", "Jacques"));
INSERT INTO TABLE passwd VALUES(1, ENCRYPT_AES("Lance", "Lance0"));
INSERT INTO TABLE passwd VALUES(1, ENCRYPT_AES("Daniel", "Daniel"));
INSERT INTO TABLE passwd VALUES(1, ENCRYPT_AES("Umut", "Umut01"));
The values inserted look as follow:SELECT * FROM passwd
I can now test f someone has the right password for user 1 by using the password value to decrypt itself:SELECT col1, DECRYPT_CHAR(col2, "Jacques") FROM passwd WHERE col1 = 1;
If I use the improper password, I receive an error:SELECT col1, DECRYPT_CHAR(col2, "Jacques") FROM passwd WHERE col1 = 3;
26008: The internal decryption function failed
One more thing. Note that the encryption password must be at least six-character long. This is why in the example I padded some encryption passwords. An easy way to work around it would be to always add padding to make sure we meet that minimum size. Keep in mind that the maximum size of an encryption key is 128 bytes.
With this approach, we can keep passwords in the database and keep them secret.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 2,706 Visits
The day started with a Q&A with IBM excutives: Alys Passarelli, Inhi Cho Suh and Rob Thomas. There were a number of good questions and it was an opportunity for the excutives to state their commitment to Informix and describe many of the efforts in progress.
Once again, a good mix of sessions on subjects from customer case studies, database administration, security, best practices, and use of tools such as Eclipse.
The day ended at 4:30 after the delivery of 25 sessions.
This was a great conference with lots of good information and fantatic networking.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 2,637 Visits
I did forget to mention the key note presentations of the evening of Monday. Rob Thomas gave us his view of the Informix business and a glimpse at his plan for continuing successes. It was followed by a presentation by dr. Arvind Krishna, general manager of IBM Information Management. Great information!
Tuesday, sessions started at 8:00 AM. I was the moderator for the session on disk level encryption. It was about a flexible product that can protect your database data at rest. It works for file-based dbspaces (cooked files) or raw devices. All that, transparently to Informix. Mark Jamison did a great job at presenting the product in a clear and concise manner.
Theere were many sessions on application development in cluding sessions on Groovy, Perl, Python, PHP. Of course, there were also more sessions on duifferent aspects of tuning and also presentation on embeddability, replication , warehouse and so on.
With the sessions starting at 8:000 AM, we had a total of 35 sessions for the day.
This was followed by a casino night. What a full day!
I came back from the Informix conference Thursday night and woke up thinking about an analogy about why we use Informix Dynamic Server. More on that in a minute.
I've been using databases for a long time. I believe that the first formal database system I used was back in 1984. It was a hierarchical database. I developed an inventory system for the Canadian Coast Guard. Over the following years, I used and supported multiple databases systems some looking more like C-ISAM and others relational. I still remember the good old days where I had to debug Oracle installation scripts :-)
So, why Informix? Isn't a database a database?
I uses to use a car analogy: people buy cars and they are used to what happens to it: If they have to go to the shop to get it fixed or tunes every other month, that's just the way cars are. Who would believe that you could buy a car and only have to put gas in it for years after years without having to waste time in the shop? the car is used to get you from point A to point B day after day. It almost makes it invisible but not quite since you still have to drive it. It's not the same with a database system: it can really be invisible.
I woke up Friday with this thought: You can write just about any application in any computer language you want. Why don't we all use COBOL. Way back, I know a guy that could do EVERYTHING in COBOL. He was even doing system programming! An object oriented version of COBOL has been available for years buy why. Isn't the "vintage" version of COBOL good enough? If I'm not mistaken, the number of COBOL lines of code in production still surpass any other programming language. That should be enough of an argument to standardize on it.
It seems to me that many people apply this line of reasoning to database systems. The trend is to look at databases as commodity. Who cares that one barely requires any attention? Who cares that it provides easy continuous availability? Who cares that it has great storage optimization? The difference is only more overhead. that translates only into more costs. Those significant costs are easy to hide so why worry about them. Everybody does it so no need to be more efficient...
Well, me, I'm old school. I come from an era where memory was measured in kilobytes and disk drives in megabytes. Yes, memory is much bigger now and not that expensive. Disk drives are so much bigger and not very expensive. Computers are so fast now. It seems to me that we should stop the insanity and pay attention to efficiency. Isn't that what cloud computing, virtualization and being green is all about?
No matter how I try to slide it, to me, Informix is number 1.[Read More]
The new Informix, version 12.10 was announced last week. It is time to start talking about the new features in TimeSeries.
The Informix team has added a public version of a fast loading mechanism. It allows to load into existing TimeSeries that are defined as part of a container.
This loader API was previously undocumented. It was only available to use as part of the Tooling. A lot of work went into it since its internal implementation. You should not try to use the older internal version since it disappears in 12.10 in favor of this new one.
You can find a description of its use in the "Informix Smart Meter Central" in the page Loading fastest with the loader API
You should also refer to the Informix documentation for more details.
Since the Loader API is an SQL API, it can be used by any clients including InfoSphere Streams.
For more information on how to use Streams with the loader api, please see the Informix Smart Meter Central wiki: Streams and the TimeSeries Loader API
More to come. Don't forget, the IIUG conference is just around the corner. This is the perfect place to learn about all the new features in Informix 12.10: Simply powerful.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 2,029 Visits
In my blog entry of February 17, 2010, I had to put out a retraction about the common drivers. As I said then, I had to start lobbying for their inclusion with Informix.
I am happy to report that the Informix client SDK version 11.50.xC7 includes these drivers. Note that they are not included in Informix 11.50.xC7. I would expect that future releases of Informix will include a CSDK that has the common drivers.
There is a bit of work to do after the CSDK installation to complete the common drivers installation. I'll cover that in an other blog entry later. If you need information on how to use the common drivers, I suggest you download:
"Informix Dynamic Server Application Development: Getting Started":
If you are interested in application development, the following URL is also of interest:
Until next time...
I've been saying for quite a while now that smart meters represent BIG DATA and that Informix TimeSeries is the optimal solution for an operational data store.
We can complement the Informix capabilities with other IBM products. When it comes to real-time processing of huge amount of data. The IBM solution is InfoSphere Streams.
It happens that Streams can interface with Informix as a data source or as a target (sink).
If you want to know more in this area, go take a look at the new information added to the Smart Meter Central wiki on Streams.
Two pages were added. One on a quick overview of Steams (with a youtube video) and another on setting up the environment.
The exact pages URLs are:
The wiki URL of the welcome page is: https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/wikis/home?lang=en#/wiki/Informix%20smart%20meter%20central/page/Welcome
Make sure to bookmark it.
More to come as we go deeper into BIG DATA!
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 2,013 Visits
I recently ran into the mention of INT8 and, by association, SERIAL8 by Informix engineers and a recent redbook. I want to make a quick comment on that.
These two types were added a long time ago to support the eight-byte integers (64 bits). They are defined as being a 10-byte structure that includes two "standard" integers. It was done this was so eight-byte integers could be supported on 32-bit operating systems. Now it appears that most operating systems support a native 64-bit integer. For this reason, new data types were added to Informix version 11.50 (fixpack 1). The new types, BIGINT and BIGSERIAL, take less space and perform better. Here is what the release notice says:
Improved Query Performance for Large Integers and Serial Data
The BIGINT and BIGSERIAL data types, which are provided as alternatives to the INT8 and SERIAL8 data types. can provide better performance than the INT8 and SERIAL8 data types.
So, let's forget about INT8 and SERIAL8 and let's use BIGINT and BIGSERIAL available in Informix 11.50.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 1,931 Visits
2010 has been a great year with the release of Informix 11.70 and 2011 is lining up to be a busy year with plenty of activities and execution on the plans of v.next. I also hope that in 2011 we'll see even more participation from the Informix community to continue to make Informix and the solutions around it better and more exciting.
Part of making Informix and its ecosystem system better is to share ideas and be exposed to ideas that may or may not be related to Informix. If you remember, in my blog entry of October 9, I talked about where good ideas come from. It is time that I divulge the source of these comments. It came from a site called TED. That specific presentation is Where good ideas come from
Here are a few other presentations I enjoyed from www.ted.com:
There are many more interesting talks in there. I hope you'll enjoy these short presentations. Who knows, by exploring these presentations and others, you may come back with a new outlook on how we can use Informix to make our world a smarter planet.
The Informix development team has put a lot of efforts over the last year or so to continue to improve the product capabilities.
We strongly believe that this new release will help everyone, customers and partners alike, address the challenges and changing needs of data management.
Will it be faster? Will it be easier to manage? Will it include new functionality? Will it be smarter to accommodate a smarter planet?
What about big data and analytic?
You're in for a treat! Here is the webcast information:
The New IBM Informix: It's Simply Powerful
Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM PDT
Don't miss it.
I dare add to this, to me, the new IBM Informix, it's simply wonderful!
Yes, a new version of Informix is now available: Informix 11.70.
There are a lot of great features in this release. I could talk about the flexible grid that allows you to manage many machines like one and support rolling upgrades. I could talk about the new analytics features where we've seen speed up of warehouse-type queries of around 50%. I could talk about storage provisioning, improved installation and embeddability features. Yes, I could talk about all this but at this time, I want to talk about some features that should interest application developers.
I have to admit I am a little biased since my group is called application development services. However, the features I want to talk about were either requested by customers or have had a very positive reception in early mention under non-disclosure or during the beta period.
The first one will facilitate porting schemas from other databases to Informix. Let me first show an example:
CREATE TABLE tab (
The first improvement is the ability to change the order of constraints and default values. Before Informix 11.70, the col1 definition would have returned an error since the default clause had to be located before the NOT NULL constraint.
The second improvement is the ability to explicitly say that a column can accept NULL values. Before, it was implied if the NOT NULL constraint was not there.
The last improvement shown in the example above shows that we can add "ON DELETE CASCADE" after the constraint name.
Another improvement in the DDL area is the ability to conditionally execute CREATE and DROP statements. Here are two examples:
CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS tab ( . . .);
If, for example, you want to make sure a table is re-created, you could always say:
DROP TABLE IF EXISTS tab;
If you want to make sure that you keep the table if it already exists, then don't do the "DROP IF EXISTS" and simply use "CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS".
Finally, here's another DDL feature that was in great demand. It is not really an application development feature but it has been requested a lot: The ability to define the EXTENT size in a CREATE INDEX statement:
CREATE INDEX myidx tab(col1) FIRST EXTENT 8 NEXT EXTENT 8;
Don't forget to read the release notice since there are many other improvements on the INDEX capabilities.
On the DML side, we are now able to use expressions in the COUNT aggregate function. This can be useful if you want multiple aggregates in one statement:
SELECT COUNT(*) total, count(CASE WHEN sex = 'M' then 1 else NULL) males
Without this capability, you would have to solve this problem with three separate statements. For example:
SELECT * FROM
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 1,856 Visits
As you know, the IIUG has a page devoted to open source products that can run on Informix. There has been a new addition recently. It is a patch to have Drupal version 6.16 run on Informix.
Drupal is a popular product that provides capabilities to publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a web site. To run it with Informix, you need:
You still need to download the code from the drupal site (www.drupal.org) and then apply the changes provided at www.iiug.org/opensource.
We are seeing more and more interest in using both InfoSphere Streams and Informix together.
This is in the context of "Big Data".
InfoSphere Streams is a platform that allows you to add operators as you see fit.
In our case, there are already a few operators that can be used to read from or write to Informix from InfoSphere Streams.
There is a new DeveloperWorks article that describe how this could be done. With these basic examples you should be
able to integrate Informix in a Streams environment (or vice versa) in no time.
Here's the link to the article: Using InfoSphere Streams with Informix
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 1,771 Visits
Looks like I jumped to conclusion too quickly. I won't give you any details or attenuating circumstances. I simply did not check properly. It looks like we do hve something on the Windows platform but not on the others.
I simply have to statrt lobying for the data server drivers as part od CSDK on all platforms. In the meantime, you can download the common drivers starting at this URL:
The one you want is the IBM Data Server Driver Package (DS Driver). On Linux, it is a 24MB download.
More on how to use it later.
This week we have the International Informix Users' Group annual conference. It is being held at the Overland Park Marriott.
Here's a bit of trivia for you: In 2008, Overland Park was listed as the 9th best place to live in the US. No doubt having the Informix lab close helped its ranking :-). You can check it at:CNNMoney.com
Sunday was a day of tutorials with eight tracks running at once. I arrived in the early afternoon. It is amazing how quickly you can get into interesting conversations, discussing different projects and business solutions.
The evening reception was a success with lots of networking and good food. This is a great start to what should be a very interesting and useful conference. Monday starts with a keynote from Dr. Arvind Krishna and continues with five tracks on a variety of subjects.[Read More]
I listened to a presentation on this subject recently.
What I found interesting is that the research found that good ideas do not come from a Eureka moment. For example Darwin recounts his Eureka moment in his auto-biography. Further study of his personal journals show that Darwin had the full theory of natural selection many months before his stated Eureka moment.
According to research, most good ideas come from discussions:
Another interesting point was that many good ideas come from the connection of people that share their thoughts to form a complete idea that is worth pursuing.
How can we generate good ideas we can act upon and make our environment better?
We need to interact with people in a situation that is conducive to generating these ideas. We have such an opportunity in just a few week: The Information on Demand (IOD) conference in Las Vegas, October 24-28.
Think about it: we will be with a bunch of people that have technical problems to solve around the use of technology in general and Informix in particular. We'll listen to presentation on new features, solutions in different industries, best practices, bird of a feather sessions, mingling in social settings such as the Informix celbration on Monday night.
Let's take advantage of this great opportunity! See you in Las Vegas!
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 1,714 Visits
We left off with an insert through the virtual table view. We created a container, a row type, a table, and a virtual table. What if we could simplify this? What if we could avoid creating a container?
One reason why you don't want to create containers could be that you have a lot of data to load and you would need a lot of containers. Would it be nice if Informix could help you with that? Informix can! In the Informix 11.70.xC3 release, we added a capability that does just that.
The new feature if referred to as auto create container. When you insert a new time series in a table and no container is specified, Informix will create one for you if needed. For example, let's take the following table:CREATE TABLE jroy (
loc_esi_id char(20) NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,
) LOCK MODE ROW;
WE can insert a new TimeSeries without specifying a container:INSERT INTO jroy VALUES(1, "origin(2010-11-10 00:00:00.00000),calendar(tst15min),threshold(0),regular,");
If there is no container available, a container is created as we can see in the tscontainertable table:SELECT * FROM tscontainertable
partitiondesc autopool00000000 datadbs 16 16 4194538
This features goes a few steps further. If the table is partitioned over multiple dbspaces, Informix will create one container per dbspace and put them in a pool called autopool. It is possible to have the following inserts go through the pool in a round robin fashion to evenly distribute your time series over multiple container and dbspaces.
If you prefer to manage your containers tourseld, you can create your own containers and ut them in a specific pool so you can take advantage of a container pool. You can even create your own policy to decide where new time series should be located.
There is more to know about these capabilities. You can find out more in the information center starting at: