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..