A Few Highlights from the 2017 IDUG North American Technical Conference

As usual, I loved nearly every minute of the IDUG North American technical conference this year. I wanted to share a few highlightsand comments. IBM highlighted and announced several things.

Note: these are my memories and notes of things that were announced. I do not promise IBM will make any stated dates or follow through with any announced features. I don’t have inside knowledge on their priorities or process, and might mis-remember something that was announced.

RFE Focus

After strong feedback last year, IBM is still working on and committed to the RFE (Request For Enhancement) process. This was partially attributed to me, and I did, indeed, push hard on this issue last year. They are working to have some sort of status for each RFE within 5 weeks of when it is submitted. They have a backlog of 707 RFEs to work through! It sounds like they’re working on some integration issues internally, but they are getting to the point where DB2 developers are required to be aware of and updating RFEs. Go vote on your favorites or enter a feature you’d like to see: https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/rfe/execute?use_case=changeRequestLanding&BRAND_ID=184&PROD_ID=1172&x=14&y=12

The more activity they see here, the more attention IBM will pay. I have it set up to email me on each new RFE so I can review and decide if it’s something I want to vote on.

Developer-C

IBM announced that in June of this year (I wonder if this will be with 11.1.2.2 – fixpack 2?) they will offer a new edition called Developer-C. This edition will be limited on the number of CPUs allowed, but will not be limited on any feature – PureScale, Compression, BLU – they’re all in there. This edition will be FREE to use in development environments. It will absolutely not be allowed in production environments. I got a fairly hazy answer when I asked for a definition of “production”, so I am looking forward to more details on that. I hear that Express-C will continue to be available for small production environments. Like Express-C there will be no support available, but unlike Express-C, I hear that fix packs will work for this edition. This edition should make it easier for DBAs to work with sandboxes and develop environments without worrying as much about licensing restrictions.

Download and Go

One of the things I’ve wanted to be able to do for a while now is to offer with each presentation, and even with more complicated blog entries, a VM that includes DB2 already installed, along with my own scripts or structures/objects to illustrate my points. In June, it sounds like IBM plans to make steps in this direction by offering a new “Download and Go” experience. This will consist of a location to download a docker image that will include DB2 and will run on Mac, Windows, or Linux (the slide said so – I took a picture!). They suggest 3 clicks and a few input fields are all that will be required to get DB2 up and running in a sandbox environment. Given how difficult it can be to create a sandbox environment, I’m looking forward to working with this!

Continuing Support

Today, if you’re paying your annual support fees, but running a version of DB2 that is past the End Of Support (EOS) date, you still won’t get support if you call IBM. I have had several clients hit this and wonder “Why am I paying IBM, then?”. Besides legal compliance, IBM is now going to offer “continuing support”. As I understand this offering, it means that IBM will provide some reduced support beyond the end of service dates. They specifically WILL NOT provide special builds, security fixes, or patches past EOS. But they will provide the initial troubleshooting and identification of workarounds and fixes to help identify what the problem is. I imagine this will actually address many of the problems that IBM sees – since a true defect is significantly rare. I will still push my clients to upgrade, because I do see the true bugs and sometimes in painful situations. I wouldn’t want to run a production environment on this kind of support unless I had no choice.

Meaning of the Version Reported

IBM is also starting to actually use all of the digits of the version number that are reported. To better describe whether fix packs represent modifications, or fixes or both.

Version numbers take the form of:
VV.RR.MM.FF
where:

  • VV is the version number (as it is today)
  • RR is the release number (as it is today)
  • MM is the modification number
  • FF is the fix number

The modification number will represent whether there are new features or functionality in the fix pack. Modifications may be small or large. For example, 11.1.1.1 included modifications, and they were pretty large as these go.
The fix number will represent whether there are fixes in the fix pack. It seems unlikely we’ll see a fix pack that is only modifications, with no fixes, given the large number of APARs currently addressed in each fix pack, but that’s my opinion and nothing official.

Miscellaneous

A few notes on the conference itself. Except for some video issues in the room (wasn’t just me, it was blamed on cables), I think the conference ran amazingly well this year. I loved the intimate feel with everything so close together and so close to the Exhibit hall. There were no stray sounds from other rooms that I noticed, and I tend to notice.

They did a joint Z/LUW panel this year, and due to a combination of factors, it didn’t really work. I look forward to the panel working better next year, as it is usually my favorite session of the conference. I thought the hotel was excellent, but disliked going to Downtown Disney for meals. My insulin pump sets off the metal detector, which meant I got a wanding every time I went there. So many people everywhere all the time was also a bit much for introvert me – there was nowhere to go to escape crowds. I also still miss the dine-around. I think that’s a valuable tool for first-time attendees or those with fewer connections to have a group to go out to dinner with and to meet their favorite speakers and spend time with them.

Maybe I’m the only one, but I need Diet Coke instead of coffee, and the Disney price of $3.50 a bottle was a bit steep. I had no time to locate cheaper sources this year.

I applaud the conference committee for a conference well run this year! I actually had a blast talking to several vendors on the exhibit hall floor – was nice to see several offering tools for LUW!

I have pages of notes from the sessions I attended and a to-do and to-blog list a mile long. I always come back so inspired! I took the most notes in the last session of the conference by David Kalmuk (D16 – The Latest in Advanced Performance Diagnostics for SQL) – great stuff!

I will be back and encourage each of my readers to attend next year in Philadelphia! I think this is the best education available for DB2 DBAs.

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