The Informix team is putting a lot of energy behind this conference. The team is also putting together a Customer Advisory Council meeting on June 2nd where there will be discussions on product directions and features prioritization.
For more information on the conference, please see:
The call for speakers is going on until February 13. This is a great opportunity to participate with the EMEA Informix community and get some exposure for yourself and your company. Take advantage of it.
Find out more at the URL mentioned above. Like it says on that site: Register Today!
There is a new redbook now available for people that want to get into the use of the TimeSeries feature.
Other resources to help you include:
Let me know what you are doing with Informix TimeSeries!
First, let me put an end to the rumor that the IIUG conference was moved to San Diego to accommodate me.
It is true, I live in that area. It is also true that I am presenting my fair share of material but I can assure you that not even one passing thought on my location was part of the decision
This being said, the conference is approaching quickly. One more week in March and then a few weeks in April and we're there.
As usual the conference organizers are trying to outdo themselves year after year. This year is no exception. What happened since last year?
For one, Informix 11.70.xC3 was just out then. Since we've seen xC4 come out. Can we hope for xC5 soon?
On my side, I am giving four sessions on various subject:
- Dummies guide to TimeSeries
You want to get started with TimeSeries, come to this session.
- Informix applications uncovered on iOS
Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. At least this old dog is trying to prove it.
- PHP and Informix
Web applications have established themselves as mainstream. If you don't know PHP and the web, come see me.
- Update on Infomrix and open-source
Some progress there, come to this session and let's have a discussion.
I think these are interesting subjects. You should look for a lot more interesting sessions at the conference.
Take a look at the list of sessions and hands-on labs at: http://www.iiug.org/conf/2012/iiug/sessions.php
See you there!
In 11.70.xC3, we added some new time series capabilities. Why would you care?
Time series are found everywhere. It is simply data that is collected over time. It could be changes in stock price and transaction volumes. It could also be reading of your house electric meter. Readings could be done every 15 minutes for example to provide a much more accurate picture of how electricity is being used. Other time series examples include weather information, network traffic, thermal readings in a large data center, and so on.
One key characteristic of time series is that the processing always include a time component. For example, you want to get all the meter readings for one month for a specific customer. With this data, you can calculate daily consumption, running averages, etc. To do this type of processing, you need quick access to the specific range of data you want to analyze and you also need to get it in time order.
Informix provides a data type that is used specifically to optimize time series data. It also comes with a extensive set of functions used to manipulate these time series. The Informix TimeSeries provide three major benefits:
- Space savings
In a standard relational database, each time series element must have an identifier and a time stamp because the time series element are stored in a separate table from the object it refers to (such as an electric meter). You then need an index on the identifier and the time stamp so you can joint it with the table that allows you to select what identifier and time range you want to operate on.
In contrast, Informix TimeSeries stores the time series in the same table and row that represents the object. You don't need the additional index on the identifier to join tables. Also, the data is kept in time order in the time series. In the case of regular intervals, you don't even need to keep the time stam since the position gives you the time
In customer tests we have regularly seen that Informix TimeSeries takes one third of the disk space.
- Performance benefits
Just by having less data on disk gives the Informix TimeSeries a significant performance benefit but it does not stop there.
The data is ordered. This means it is much faster to get to the exact subset of data that you want to process. By being ordered, This means you will likely find the next record that you are looking for on the same page as the last one. In a relational system, all this data could be scattered over a large number of pages without specific ordering. This would cause a lot more I/O operations to be executed than in the case of Informix TimeSeries. You also don't need to go through an additional sorting step before you process your data.
In customer tests we have seen as much as 60X performance improvements over standard relational in some queries.
- Simpler development
Informix TimeSeries comes with a set of functions that allow you to manipulate the time series. For example, if you need to group ou r reading to go from a 15 minute interval to a hourly interval, it can be done in a simple statement. Similarly, if you want to calculate a running average: simple statement. This means you don't need to write specialized code to provide this processing. It is built into the Informix TimeSeries capabilities.
The end result can be simpler code, less maintenance, and faster time to market
Informix TimeSeries also provides the ability to create relational views on top of your time series data. This opens the door to the use of standard off the shelf products to do things like reporting.
With this very brief introduction, we are now ready to talk about the improvements made in 11.70.xC3. This will have to wait until next time
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.
There was a big change for me this year: I left the Informix CTE group to lead a new group. I am now a manager... and architect.
My new group is called Application Development Services. This mean that my group looks at IDS from a programmer point of view. Let me give you an example of what that means. Let's look at the major features included in IDS 11.50.xC6:
Backup from an RSS server
Dynamic listener threads
View event alarms
Basic Text Search enhancements
MERGE statement enhancements
I care about these features but I my attention goes to a feature of the new Client SDK that deserved a one line mention in its release notice:
"When you install Client SDK or IConnect, you have the option to install IBM Data Server Driver version 9.7. For more information, see the Client Products Installation Guide."
As you may remember, the long term direction for client applications is to use the DRDA interface to IDS. With this one line statement, I can now write programs using CLI (ODBC) without having to have to figure out where to get the driver. Since IBM has multiple packages available, I could have easily made the mistake of thinking that I need to download the entire DB2 client (about 600MB) to get this functionality.
In addition, this is all I need to build PDO_IBM for PHP applications or IBM_DB gem file for Ruby and Rails development.
As far as what my group will do, we can start by figuring out and prioritizing what features will make Informix more attractive to developers/programmers. It's not just features in the server. It has to consider everything. Even documentation.
I'm sure I'll have more to say about this later this year. Hopefully I'll have interesting results to report by the time I see some of you at the IIUG conference in April.
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:
In the last few blog entries, I've been talking about TimeSeries. This time, I'd like to diverge a little for a change. Still there is a tie to TimeSeries
About a year ago, I went to a E&U conference. As you may know, Informix is making a push in this industry due to the advantages that TimeSeries can provide to this industry. In one of the sessions I attended, the presentor mentioned in passig the "Did you know?" video on youtube. Just the context when it was mentioned made me pay attention. I took a note and decided to look it up later. Last time I checked, it had had over 14 million viewing!
"Did you know?" starts with a global view of the world ("If you are 1 in a million in China, there are 1300 people just like you") and continues to talk about the evolution of the impact of technologies on our lives and its impact in the future.
Some other highlights:
- the top 10 in-demand job in 2010...did not exist in 2004
- (dated!) 200 million register users in MySpace would represent the 5th largest country in the world (What about facebook?!?)
- It too the radio 38 years to reach an audience of 50 million people, it toook television 13 year and facebook 2 years
- It is estimated that 4 exabytes of unique information will be generated this year. This is more than the previous 5000 years
Like it says in the video, we are living in exponential times.
Take a look at it, it's only 5 minutes of your time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL9Wu2kWwSY
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:
- Turn your information into a strategic driver of innovation, business optimization and competitive differentiation
- Learn how to transform data into a trusted strategic asset using an information agenda
- Improve business performance by applying data analytics and optimization techniques, e.g. save $423 million and realize 95% improvement in on-time delivery
- Accelerate information intensive projects for immediate ROI, e.g., increasing daily deliveries by 100% and spotting new trends in seconds - not weeks
- Optimize your existing information infrastructure to achieve higher availability and improved ROI
- Add value to your organization by building your skills and knowledge
You can find Informix-specific information on the conference at Informix at Information On Demand
. Here are the top 5 reasons on the Informix side:
- The best in IBM technical training
- Hands-on-labs provide in-depth training
- Immediate return on investment
- First-hand experiences shared by customer speakers
- Everything your company needs in one location
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.
What does that mean to be green? Is that using solar panels to power our computers? What about if we put pedals under the desk of each employee so they generate the power they need. That would have the additional benefit of raising the fitness level and maybe improve the overall health level... I remember Martie Lurie and his son demonstrating something about a bicycle and an Informix database at the last IIUG conference (or was it IOD?). Maybe they were onto something :-)
Kidding aside, we know that Informix was green before people cared about green. The product was built from the ground up to take full advantage of hardware resources. To me, that's not even half the story. Informix IDS is set it and "forget it". What type of impact does that have on the overall carbon foot print? We often hear customers talk about a 1 to 10 ratio between Informix DBAs and competitor products. And there is the extensibility features. You know me, I could go on and on about that and the huge benefits it can provide such as processing 100,000 trades per seconds on a 4-CPU Linux machine.
Lately there has been more happening with Informix to help make it greener by including it into a virtual appliance that can even be deployed in the Amazon EC2 Cloud. Guy Bowerman has talked about it on his blog and will cover this subject in his presentation next week at the Informix conference (Apr 26-29).
Take a look at theThe GReen IT Report on DeveloperWorks to see what IBM has to say about this subject.
Till next time.
Last week I stayed at a quaint hotel in Strasbourg. Since the room did not have an alarm clock, I decided to use my watch to wake me up on Monday morning. Considering that there is an eight-hour timezone difference between Denver and Strasbourg, using an alarm is a good idea.
I woke up on Monday 30 minutes before the alarm was supposed to ring. That's long enough to make it worthwhile falling asleep again so I did. I woke up again with a start, picked up my watch and looked at the time: the display was blank!I needed to find out what time it was in a hurry. Maybe I was late for the start of the class! Luckily for me, it turned out that it was the time I was planning to get up at. I guess my brain kept track of the time as I was sleeping. It has worked in the past but I don't find this method the most reliable. At this point, I started using my phone as my alarm clock.
Later that week, when I was in Paris, I had to go visit a partner. The sales specialist send me the information. I wrote the address down on a piece of paper and went to grab a taxi. The taxi driver could not find the place even with the use of a GPS device. I did not have access to my email with my laptop, I did not write down the partner's phone number and I had no way to contact anybody. I was about to tell the driver to turn around when I remember that I get my emails on my phone. Luckily, there was a phone number and we were able to get to the right location.
Twice in one week! Since I had to leave my hotel on Saturday at 5:00am, I did not want to take any chances: I setup a wake up time on both my phone and on the television/alarm clock. Surely at least one of the two would work. It turns out that both worked that morning and 20+ hours later I was back at home (ahh! the glamor of travel). Now my laptop appears to act a little strange. I better do a backup...
That made me think: Do all Informix DBAs have a contingency plan? What happens if something goes wrong? How much does it cost the business for each hour of downtime?
IDS offers a lot of capabilities that can address the needs of a business environment. It starts with online backup either full or incremental and adds to it through the following:
- Continuous Availability Feature (CAF): This provides the ability to share the disks so instances on different machines (or blade) use the same database space. This is great to quickly recover from machine failure since the database is accessible through another machine. Since all machines access the data simultaneously, it can also provide horizontal scalability
- High-Availability Data Recovery (HDR): Provides disaster recovery through the replication of the data to another instance.
- Remote Secondary Server (RSS): Adds to the HDR story by supporting additional copies of the data into other instances
- Continuous Log Restore (CLR): You can automate the restore of IDS into another instance so that instance is ready to be put online if needed in the case of a disaster on the production machine
- Enterprise Replication (ER): Gives you the ability to distribute the data over hundreds of instances to have distributes work and redundant data.
All these options work together. Talk to your local IBM-Informix IT specialists if you want to know more about these capabilities.
Next Thursday afternoon (3/5/2009 1:00pm mountain time) I will participate in an internet radio show called DM Radio.
The URL for it is: http://www.information-management.com/dmradio/10015010-1.html
This edition of the radio show is described as follows:
Going green makes total sense when companies can save money in the process. For IT, going green means saving on energy costs, but also infrastructure and other maintenance fees. But what, exactly, does 'going green' entail in the industry of information management?
Tune into this episode of DM Radio to find out! We'll talk to green guru John O'Brien of Dataupia, Bill Smoldt of STORserver, Bob Maness of Pillar Data Systems, and Jacques Roy of IBM.
Attendees will learn: How much money companies can save by going green; Why a multi-tiered storage strategy is key; How to leverage the Cloud in saving dough; Best practices for dovetailing initiatives.
I'll be on for about 10 minutes and also be part of a panel of expert discussion toward the end of the broadcast. Let's hope I can do Informix justice! :-)
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:
- Did you sell more?
- Did you reduce the number of people on the payroll?
- Did you reduce inventory?
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?
That could be a tough one because sometime it is difficult to tie what we do to the company sales. that reminds me of a need analysis I did early in my career. The drafting department wanted to get a CAD system. At the time, that represented an investment of around one million dollars. I asked: "What happens if the plans are late?". I got blank stares as a reply. I should have talked to their customers to find the answer. We shold always ask what happens if we take longer to do something or if we don't do it. Here's a great quote:
"The cheapest, fastest and most reliable components of a computer system are those that aren’t there"
Gordon Bell, Encore Computer Corporation
Did you reduce the number of people on the payroll?
That's a question we always try to avoid but the bottom line, this is a question that is considered. Don't forget that if we can sell more with the same number of people, that's the same as reducing 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?
Dr. Goldratt (author of "The Goal") says that investment is the same as inventory. So, what investment is made to increase sales? What is the return on investment? This seems to be a great opportunity to talk to people that use other DB products: How much are you investing in people to run these systems? What could you save there? How much are you investing in hardware? Could that be reduced? How much in software? I've heard that people that add Informix to their environment can get significant discount from their other DB vendor. That represents a reduction in the investment.
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.
This was the last day of the conference with a 35 sessions. I was surprised to see how many people attended the presentations until the end. I see this as a big endorsement of the value provided by these presentations.
On my part I delivered one presentation first thing in the morning and another one starting at 2:10 pm. Despite that, my session was well attended.
Overall a very successful conference that was well worth attending.