It is Wednesday and IIUG 2009 is winding up. There's a Customer Advisory Council meeting taking place tomorrow so I'll be in town until Friday.
The conference was a lot of fun, starting with the welcome reception on Sunday where it was great to catch up with geographically dispersed colleagues and Informix contacts.
Cathy Elliot's and Jacques Roy have been covering the events on their blogs. See also Pradeep's posting on IDS Experts
For me the conference had a distinctly cloudy theme. My Virtualization and Cloud Computing with Informix presentation on Monday had a full room and some interesting questions about pricing, licensing, performance, security, storage and backup policies. Jinesh Varia, a technical evangelist from Amazon attended and helped me out with some of those questions. Update: 5/2/09: Jinesh has blogged about his experiences at IIUG here: http://aws.typepad.com/aws/2009/05/ibm-informix-database-in-the-cloud.html.
There was a birds of a feather session in the evening where we could follow up on some of these topics. There is a burgeoning interest in the economies around cloud computing and this was evident at the conference. If you have a good idea of your expected resource usage, hardware and deployment costs and expected length of service it becomes a relatively straightforward calculation to make on whether cloud computing is cost-effective. There are concerns around security - conforming to government requirements about the location of confidential data for example. Amazon has some security check marks such as HIPAA compliance that meets some of these concerns.
It has been good to get feedback from people using the IDS virtual appliance. People are starting to see a desktop virtual appliance with IDS and associated components pre-installed as an indispensable tool for testing new IDS features, application development, demo's, and also education. I attended an Academic Initiative meeting on Tuesday, where professors from local universities learned about free software and training programs from IBM, as well as educational discounts, and shared their interests and needs in this area. The IDS virtual appliance provides an answer to several needs in the academic community for a database teaching platform. It provides an environment where students and professors don't have to spend time with installation and configuration when they're teaching a specific data management topic - where students can take the classroom home with them and keep working. The usability work that has gone in to the appliance helps to reduce the number of manual pages that need to be read to start working with SQL and database features.
The Monday evening reception had a Hawaiian theme and fortunately pictures of me in a grass skirt managed to stay out of Facebook, unlike poor Harpreet.
On Tuesday morning Information Management CTO Anant Jhingran delivered a keynote on Informix and cloud computing covering IBM's vision for the cloud, as well as drilling down into Information Management and IDS. The keynote was well-received, with people I spoke to saying the strategy was clear and made a lot of sense. There was an attempt at a demo during the keynote showing how to get started using IDS and the Amazon Cloud, but the network was flaky and it was somewhat unsuccessful. I wouldn't want to be that demo guy. Oh wait, I was that guy.
Later on Tuesday Jinesh gave his Amazon Web Services presentation and went more in depth into these offerings, contrasting S3 with EBS storage and addressing some of the security and availability questions people have. I had a demo in this talk that showed Informix Connection Manager providing High Availability failover across Amazon Availability Zones. Fortunately this demo went much better!
As usual I didn't manage to get to many other sessions, but I did attend Tosin Ajayi's presentation on Embedding and Deploying IDS, and he did a great job of outlining IDS embeddability strategy along with practical tips on embedded deployment.
Today was my IDS on Windows Technical Deep Dive session, which went great, apart from my mistake of leaving it until the night before to add IDS 11.50.xC4 Windows features to the slides. I had forgotten how many new features there are, like full MACH11 SDS support, inline upgrade support, and my favorite, oninit -w (more about that later) to name a few, so was still working on slides at 2am.
Congratulations to Spokey Wheeler for the fastest time in the Fastest DBA contest, getting a 30 minute query down to around a minute.
Now a week's worth of work to catch up on..[Read More]
Administrating and Developing with Informix
From archive: April 2009 X
Cathy Elliot has started a new blog called Informix Voices. Here Cathy will be interviewing people connected with Informix and putting their thoughts, opinions and perspectives on the blog. She's using the new My developerWorks as a platform for the blog, I've not tried My developerWorks yet but it looks good.
The IIUG conference kicks off today so Cathy is in the right place. I'm currently in Portland airport waiting for a flight to Kansas, hoping the hotel shuttle will get me there in time to enjoy the welcome reception.
This conference there are various activities around virtualization and cloud computing.. an Informix virtualization session on Monday, a Birds of a Feather session on Monday evening, Anant Jhingran's keynote on cloud computing on Tuesday morning, an Amazon Web Services session on Tuesday, and various demos in the Demo hall, including a very cool one on using Spatial data with Enterprise Replication in the cloud. Expect to see the IDS virtual appliance used as the host platform for many of these demos, from cloud computing to the Informix Warehouse feature. The neat pre-configured environment of the VA saves a lot of setup time and presents a consistent look and feel. In my case it also spares people from having to look directly at the mess that is the over-configured Windows environment on my laptop, where I have trouble finding anything I did. Talking of Windows I'm glad I get to do my IDS on Windows Technical deep dive on Wednesday, which will mean Tuesday night updating slides to put the latest 11.50.xC4 information on (hint.. oninit -w, previously available on UNIX, is a great new feature for Windows embeddability and represents a new model for Informix architecture on Windows, expect a blog post on it some time too).[Read More]
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Here are more details for the Beaverton Tech fair on May 20th...
Free Informix Tech Fair
Talks include the following topics:
IIUG President Stuart Litel
IBM Informix Engineers
Free ConsultingHaving a problem or question about Informix? Talk to an engineer and get free advice about your specific issue.
WHEN: May 20, 2009, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
WHERE: IBM Beaverton
15400 SW Koll Parkway
Beaverton, OR 97006
Hope to see you there.[Read More]
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Two new Informix white papers were published today..
Administering Informix Dynamic Server on Microsoft Windows (PDF)
This 63 page white paper starts where the IDS documentation leaves off and describes some of the "under the hood" aspects of IDS on Windows, with plenty of administration and troubleshooting tips. If you use or administer IDS on Windows you should find this paper very useful.
I'd been tinkering away on versions of this document since 2006, when a request for an IDS on Windows document was made during a customer meeting. I remember the meeting because it took place while waiting in line at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyworld (see photo). The document was provided but we thought it would be good to continue improving it and write a more extensive document. Liesel in Munich Advanced Support started working on it with me and added a lot of technical content. Later Jasna, one of our Information Development authors, joined us to make it readable and help with the publishing requirements (which were more exacting than we expected). I am very happy to see this document see the light of day.
IBM Informix Dynamic Server Storage Optimization (PDF)
This paper written by Scott Lashley is an in depth look at the new IDS Compression feature. Read it to understand how you can improve performance, save on backup and restore time, reduce buffer usage and save up to 80% of storage.[Read More]
Today at an IBM PartnerWorld webcast entitled IBM software available in the Cloud with Amazon Web Services IBM announced the availability of production editions of IDS Express Edition (32-bit), IDS Workgroup Edition (64-bit) as well as DB2, Lotus and Websphere products in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
The new pricing can be found here: http://aws.amazon.com/ibm/#pricing.
Here is a summary of the IDS pricing as of today (if it is the future and you're looking at this post, you had better check the website directly):
Pricing for Instances running IBM Informix Dynamic Server Express Edition
Pricing for Instances running IBM Informix Dynamic Server Workgroup Edition
Here are the direct catalog links to the paid editions:
IBM Informix Dynamic Server 11.5 Workgroup Edition on Linux (64 bit)
This represents a new model in the way you can pay for an IDS license. Instead of a one-off payments you can pay for an increment above the base AWS rate for EC2 usage. You want to use IDS Workgroup 64-bit edition in a Standard Large instance for an hour, you pay $1.31 for your usage including license.
Now it is possible to make a simple calculation based on your expected usage whether you'll save costs in configuration, set-up, and licensing by using a paid edition IDS AMI.
Here's a developerWorks page that has more information about the new IDS Cloud offerings and some useful links: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/downloads/im/dsexp/ec2.html?S_TACT=105AGX11&S_CMP=LP
The Cloud Computing Labrynth
If you find the plethora of cloud computing options available to be somewhat confusing, you could do worse than look at the recent developerworks article by Brett D. McLaughlin, Sr.: Navigate the cloud computing labyrinth - Make an educated decision about the best cloud computing platform for your application. In this article Brett provides the basics on the major players, and what might be of interest to database people, Python programmers, Windows shops, as well as some thoughts on resources and billing.[Read More]
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The performance experts at Advanced Data Tools have unveiled the Fastest Informix DBA Contest to be held at the IIUG conference.
There are various categories based on age, experience and job function, and one winner takes home a grand prize of an iPod Touch.
I like this idea, and hope it becomes a regular event at conferences. A future category I'd like to see.. fastest non-human DBA - see how autonomic performance tools and features like genonconfig (config wizard) and others rank. It would be a good experience for the developers of autonomic and self-tuning features to see how badly they do against seasoned DBA's, and to get ideas on how to improve their code.[Read More]
Ranjani Bettadahalli and Paul-John To have written an excellent new developerWorks article on how to set up ODBC connectivity to IDS on Mac OS X: Integrate Informix ODBC applications on Mac OS X with Informix Dynamic Server, Part 1: Installing and registering the ODBC bundle driver graphically Exploring Informix CSDK ODBC connectivity on Mac OS X using Apple's Graphical Data Source Utilities.
The Informix Client SDK for Mac OS X was originally 64-bit only, but a 32-bit version was recently released which expands the number of applications and drivers that can take advantage of ODBC connectivity to IDS.
The article takes you through every step of installation, including some of the finer points such as configuring the Launch Services facility (launchd) which applications use when they start up, to make sure they have access to the INFORMIXSQLHOSTS and ODBCINI environment variables.
Part 2 of this article is going to show how to use ODBC connectivity to IDS with FileMaker Pro and OpenOffice.org tools.[Read More]
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A Dear IIUG 2009 Conference Attendee missive from Stuart Litel arrived in my inbox today..
IBM has designed the offer to help you prepare for the complimentary Informix Professional Certification being offered at the IIUG Informix Conference April 26-29, 2009. Assessment tests for exams Informix exams 915, 917 and 918 will be available free of charge 2 weeks prior to and during the conference, April 13-29, 2009. Normally these tests are offered for a fee of $10 each. So now you can become an IBM Informix Certified Professional and take your job knowledge to the next level at no charge to you! Please note assessment test quantities are limited, only one complimentary assessment test per registered attendee.
To take advantage of this offer, visit the Information Management Certification Assessment Website. link to the Prometric Assessment Testing site and enter promotion code IIUG2009 during the checkout process to qualify for one free assessment test!Further increase your chances of success on exam day with our Complimentary Informix Certification Tutorials!
If they could just add free ice creams for passing, this would be a pretty good deal.[Read More]
Here's an IIUG conference summary email that was sent to IIUG members today..
No other conference in the world will focus this intensely and comprehensively on the Informix product set. For 3 action-packed days across 5 content-rich tracks, from April 26-30, there will be an absolute focus at The Marriott Hotel in Overland Park, Kansas — which is right down the street from the Informix Development Labs.
Don't delay register now! http://www.iiug.org/conf/2009/iiug/register.php
No matter how you look at it, this conference is an unbeatable deal. So, plan on being at the 2009 IIUG Informix Conference in Overland Park, Kansas April 26-29, 2009.
TUTORIALS (Sunday April 26th)
TECHNICAL SESSIONS (Monday April 27 — Wednesday April 29)Over 85 technical sessions over three full days!For an updated list of sessions, visit: http://www.iiug.org/conf/2009/iiug/sessions.php
CERTIFICATIONAll attendees can take IBM Information Management Certification exams at no cost. Each of these tests is a $150 value!
IBM's sub-capacity pricing policy for running software products in virtualized environments has been enhanced with many new supported virtualization technologies added to the list.
New eligible virtualization technologies for x86 servers include:
There is a roadmap set out, with the following technologies available with the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) in Q3 of this year:
And in H2 2010, IBM plans to add ILMT support for the following:
The full announcement is available here:Summary of 07 April 2009 Announcement: Enhancements to Sub-capacity
An IBM Data Studio Developer tutorial written last year by Pamela Siebert and Venkatesh Gopal has recently been revised for Data Studio 2.1, and includes, among other things, the newer capabilities in pureQuery (such as the performance metrics, heterogeneous batching, etc).
The revised tutorial is available here: Get started using IBM Data Studio Developer with Informix Dynamic Server - Create, test, and deploy IDS applications. For those who like their information in two-sentence summaries the abstract for this tutorial is shown below:
A useful ONCONFIG parameter, SHMVIRT_ALLOCSEG, for proactively dealing with low memory situations, and providing applications with advanced warning of out of memory conditions was introduced in IDS 11. What is less well known is that this parameter is available in IDS 10.00.xC9 as well.
Here is the documentation for it..
SHMVIRT_ALLOCSEG and Memory Utilization
The SHMVIRT_ALLOCSEG configuration parameter specifies:
SHMVIRT_ALLOCSEG ensures that the server never runs out of memory.When you set this configuration parameter, you must:
SHMVIRT_ALLOCSEG 3000, 4
This specifies that if the database serve has 3000 kilobytes remaining in virtual memory and additional kilobytes of memory cannot be allocated, the server raises an alarm level of 4.Example 2:
SHMVIRT_ALLOCSEG .8, 4
This specifies that if the database server has twenty percent remaining in virtual memory and additional kilobytes of memory cannot be allocated, the server raises an alarm level of 4.