Big data in motion
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 899 Visits
We had many good presentations on Monday and of course several impromptu meetings all over the place. Time is running short so I have to keep this entry to a minimum.
In One session I heard about Choice Hotel that has 6000 properties in 10 different brands. They strongly depend on IDS to run their business. In another one, I heard about peapod online grocer that also relies on Informix IDS to run their business. Finally, we also heard about the new IBM system x bundles for Informix where they provide tested configurations in "T-shirt" sizes (small, medium, large, X-large) to fit any businesses. They mentioned that such a configuration showed much better price performance than a Sun system running Solaris.
More to come on Tuesday.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 1,109 Visits
I arrived in Vegas Sunday mid-afternoon. Already, the activities have been going on for a day and a half. The expo floor looks good with Informix demos at multiple locations including the blade server with Informix and the theater presentation showing, at least, the clustering capabilities that include SDS, HDR, RSS, and ER.
The evening reception was in two parts: one in the expo and a second one for specific section of the Information management portfolio.
This year I decided to stay at the Luxor, next to the Mandaly Bay. You can walt from one hotel to the other without going outside. To go from my room to the registration desk takes a little over 15 minutes. On my way, I passed 3 Starbucks. I guess a lot of attendees need that to go through the long hours we'll have this week.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 921 Visits
I remember seeing something like this title in some Informix marketing material many years ago. I think it was related to the fact that IDS has extensibility features that allow developers to adapt IDS to their business requirements as the technology and needs evolve.
The "future built-in" idea came back to me as I was reading a computerworld article titled: "the desktop traffic jam" (see: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/342870/The_Desktop_Traffic_Jam). In there they were talking about a new feature in Windows 7 (User Mode Scheduling) that lets thread multiplexing take place in the application instead of in the kernel. They go on to say: "Handling this multiplexing in the application instead of in the operating system kernel makes thread scheduling more efficient.
I know it's not quite the same but it is similar to the idea that IDS decides its thread scheduling, making it more efficient since it is will not re-schedule a thread that is in a critical section of code. This way it avoids having threads that get scheduled to find out that they have to wait. All that making the threading model more efficient. I wonder how difficult it would be to take advantage of thread multiplexing onto cores. Could it be as simple as having one CPU VP per core wih some "core affinity" of the operating system supports that? Then IDS would already be there... with the future built into it.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 887 Visits
The IOD conference is less than a week away. I received an email about a blog entry that lists all the book signings that will happen at IOD. A total of 10. I happen to be one of them.
I wrote a short book titled: "Informix Dynamic Server Application Development - Getting Started". It is a free book that will be available at the conference. My book signing session is as follows:
Tuesday 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Location: Mandalay Bay Registration Desk South
Since I'm giving up my lunch for this, please stop by and say hi. For more information on all the book signings at IOD, please see the following blog entry:
(Short URL: http://bit.ly/KB8zy)
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 844 Visits
I was joking around about security-related events in a previous blog. It looks like what goes around comes around...
I was in Montreal last week visiting partners and customers. To make it there I went through Los Angeles and had the joy of being selected for additional security screening. It is not your father's additional screening! They did not only go through my bag and looked at all my papers - luckily they did not take the time to read everything or I would have missed my flight - They went through my wallet, looked at all my credit cards and IDs. For the first I was starting to wonder about privacy-violation. They also took the time to go through my passport and look at the different countries I visited.
I'm all for good security measures but I fail to understand why going through my credit cards makes planes safer. In fact, they asked me if this procedure made me feel safer. My parents told me I should always tell the truth...
Over the last few years we regularly heard stories about information leaks. Information like credit card numbers, email accounts with password and so on. The problems are numerous, going from disgruntled employees to lost backups and different security access problems.
If you have needs for security and data privacy, make sure to review what IDS 11 provides. It includes communication encryption, backup encryption, column-level encryption, database roles including security officer, and label-based access control (LBAC). Of course we could add to that the resistance to denial-of-service attacks and other features that can be sued to assist in securing your database system.
Make sure you discuss your security and privacy needs with your IBM-Informix technical specialist.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 936 Visits
When I was in France, I met two partners/resellers: VMark and Frame. Both partners are strong Informix partners and supporters. It is always good to meet partners of this caliber.
In addition to them, I must give a particular mention for ConsultiX's Khaled Bentebal that went the extra mile and re-started the France's Informix users' group with a meeting on September 30th. The meeting was well attended with over 20 people despite some scheduling issues that greatly reduced the advertising for it. There was a mix of roadmap, positioning and technical presentations that were enthusiastically received by the audience.
This year we have seen several countries starting Informix users groups. the one in France is the latest that shows that Informix is growing and doing well. I wish Khaled and the France Informix users' group all the best.
I'm currently in Paris in the second week of a business trip. For a two-week trip it is pretty common to have some clothes laundered otherwise this makes for a lot of stuff to lug around.
I took a look at what was offered at my hotel: To launder one shirt (men), they charge 8.50 euros (around 12.37 US dollars). As I was leaving the hotel, I saw a hotel employee with a laundry bag in her hands. Looking at the size of the bag, I could just imagine the small fortune spent by the guest.
As I was walking to the IBM office, I passed a dry cleaner that advertized the cleaning and pressing of men shirts for 2.20 euro per shirt for 5 shirts. The price at the hotel was over 3.8 times that price. With a little knowledge a a 5 minute walk, the hotel guest could save a significant amount of money: for 5 shirts the price goes from 42.50 euros to 11 euros. For a company with a lot of employees that use that type of service, this can add up to significant savings.
Of course, that made me think of Informix. It is well known that IDS provides a high level of performance and scalability and require minimal resources for its administration. In some cases, one database administrator can manage thousands of instances. Of course it is much easier to go with a safe choice, use as much hardware as needed, and hire as many employees and consultants as the situation requires for the management of the environment and business application development. This is simply the cost of doing business...
It seems to me that with a little knowledge and a little effort, that cost of doing business could be greatly optimized.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 1,018 Visits
Last Wednesday, Terri and I went from Brussels to Roosendaal (Netherland) to visit our Informix partner Informa. The first thing we saw when we arrived at their building was a 4 feet tall informix logo sign, the original blue logo.
We had a great meeting talking about the Informix roadmap and the state of the Informix business as they see it at Informa. Bertino and Rob also told us that they found two Informix customers that did not know that IBM had bought Informix!
We were back in Brussels between 5:30 and 6:00 in the evening and went out for dinner. When it came to pay, it turned out we could not use our credit cards since our cards do not include a chip. Here, in Europe, they all use smart cards.
That reminds me of the Informix conference in Chicago back, I believe, in 1997. At that conference, attendees would get a smartcard that was used for multiple purposes. One of them was that they could go to a PC, insert their card in the reader and take a conference survey. After the survey was submitted, they could go claim a T-shirt as a thank you prize. Before they could get the T-shirt, The smart card would be checked to make sure the attendee completed the survey and then mark their card with the fact that they had received their T-shirt. As it happens, I wrote the application that took care of the survey.
The survey was done through a web browser running on a windows machine (16-bit windows at the time). A smart card reader was attached to the PC. The attendee would insert their smartcard in the reader and invoke the survey URL. This request would execute a program on the server that would call back the PC using the PC internat address and a pre-defined port number to read the smart card and fill out the basic information on the form such as name and address. Once the survey was submitted, the application would again access the smartcard to turn on the indicator that said that the survey had been completed.
I'm sure that the capacity of smart cards has greatly increased over the last 10 years or so. A lot could be stored on those. We could store a biometric key as password (fingerprint) and all sort of personal information such as medical records and medical activities, including prescriptions. With this always up-to-date record, it could reduce risks of errors, drug abuse, and so on. The update could be done to the smartcard at the point of service and also sent to a national database through, let say, web services.
IDS can handle millions of transactions per second. It has a proven track record of reliability and scalability and is used to stringent response time requirements. Fro example, IDS is able to handle the employee badge of IBM employees worldwide to give them access to different areas of IBM. IDS also handles large streams of financial information and makes them available for analysis almost instanteneously. Handling the medical record updates would be no problem since we can easily scale out through the distribution of the data over multiple machines either through the continuous availability feature (shared disks). In the medical record case, I would likely look at Enterprise Replication (ER) as my first enabling feature.
All that to say that smart card may be worth another look. The use of smart card with IDS could open the door to many new capabilities in all sort of emerging market and new application.
I think Terri is pulling my leg. She is apparently receiving concerned emails about what happened in Brussels. It was a humorous situations that I wanted to relate in a fun way. I guess I have a future in fiction writing :-).
Really, nothing happened. She took a picture, the police courteously told us that the American embassy did not want people to take picture. Terri deleted the picture from her camera while having a pleasant time with the officers. We then left and laughed about it.
So, don't worry, Terri is doing fine and we all had a good time in Brussels. I strongly encourage people to come and visit.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 1,020 Visits
I am currently in Belgium, Brussels with Terri Gerber. Last Tuesday, we had a successful meeting with an Informix customer. After the meeting, in late afternoon, Patrick Billens took us around to show us the sites of Brussels including among other things the royal palace and the "grande place". Little did I know that soon, Terri would almost cause an international incident with the digital equipment she was carrying.
It happened soon after we saw the king's working palace. The flag at the top of the palace indicated that the king was currently there working. We turned the corner after the palace and Patrick pointed to another building with an American Flag in front of it. Terri took out her digital camera and quickly took a picture. Within seconds, two Belgium police officer were in hot pursuit and quickly caught up with us. Before all h**l broke loose, Patrick intervened, avoiding the worse. I could only imagine what could have happened: Two officers tackling the red-jacket wearing culprit followed by a struggle to get to the digital camera.
Terri did not surrender her camera. Instead, she wrestled with its ease of use and deleted the offending picture in front of the officers. Satisfied with the action taken, we were free to go on our way.
At this time, Terri is on her way back home to Massachusett. Is the picture really deleted? I'm sure it would be possible to un-delete it. Hopefully this won't be a concern for the department of homeland security. If that becomes an issue, I'm sure Terri would be willing to share information with homeland security on how much Informix could help them make the country safer.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 1,434 Visits
I recently received a note about the IOD conference, October 25-29, at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. If you register by August 31, you can get the early bird hotel rate!
Please go to the Conference Site to learn more about the IOD conference and register. Here are the top reasons provided to attend:
More on the conference later.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 962 Visits
Please see the following story Trafficmaster and IBM Develop Solution for Smarter Driving to learn more about how Informix makes life easier for drivers in the UK. Here's a quote form the article:
"Trafficmaster is able to provide drivers with real-time route planning and more accurate estimated arrival times than ever before with the help of the IBM Informix data base technology," said Stuart Berman, Executive Director, Trafficmaster.
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 1,493 Visits
IDS 11.50.xC5 became eGA on July 24th. It includes several new features including the "CONNECT BY" syntax and the MERGE command. There were other improvements in multiple areas such as administration and usability, and in the continuous availability including Enterprise Replication (ER).
For more information look at:Read More]
I'd like to come back to the book "The Goal" I mentioned in my last blog entry.
This book focuses on manufacturing environments but the interview at the end of the book mentions that the concepts of the theory of constraints (TOC) can be applied to other fields. Looking back in teh book, I found that they ask three basic questions about the impact of changes:
We can easily see that this makes sense to a financial person in manufacturing. Let's see how we can look at it when our concern is running a database.
Did you sell more?
"The cheapest, fastest and most reliable components of a computer system are those that aren’t there"
Did you reduce the number of people on the payroll?
I've met many customers that have a mixed environments where we see a 10-1 ratio of Informix personnel compared to the personnel for the competitor's platform. Why not bring that up to the appropriate people. I'm sure your local IBM representative will be happy to help.
Did you reduce inventory?
I think these three questions are worth exploring no matter which environment you're in. That can be good for your company, for you, and for all the people that invest their efforts into the Informix products.[Read More]
JacquesRoy 120000A2MS 1,921 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]