IDUG Content Committee

The "new" type of DBA

By Javier Estrada Benavides posted Aug 04, 2021 08:58 AM

  

Today’s world, or better said, today’s Db2, is not the same as any other previous generation. If I were to say it with my (personal) opinion, there’s an information overload for pretty much everything, and Db2, regardless of the platform, is no exception:

  • Where we get information.
  • Tools at our disposal.
  • New techniques.
  • Anything else that is being pushed by new trends, people, brands, etc.

 

What happens out of all this? Officially (by behavioral psychology), the name is “choice overload bias”, which can be better stated as “choice paralysis”. It is the effect when we feel overwhelmed when we are presented with a large number of options to choose from. When this is not addressed (which, you’ll say this is how we live nowadays), it leads to another problem called “decision fatigue”, and you get the idea by now.

How is this relevant in any way to us as DBAs?

  In our jobs as DBAs, we may find several problems where we’ll have to know a bit of an “extra topic”… or two, or three, and when the choice of topics is too wide, nobody can blame us if we said “it’s too much and we never know what’s coming at us”. So what else should we learn about? How do you choose?

As a small survey, during IDUG NA I asked several people a couple of questions:

Question 1. What else besides Db2 should a Db2 person know?

Question 2. Can you share a war story where, knowing a little bit of extra helped to solve a Db2 related problem?

We can surely remember several scenarios. On my own experience, I can quickly list some too, by categories:

Note: The next few examples belong to Db2 for z/OS

Knowing a bit of SMS

 If you have migrated from Db2 v9 at some point you had to associate your Db2 Catalog and Directory VSAMS to an SMS Data Class with extended addressability and multi volume attributes. When I did it it in a release migration, I didn’t re-confirm the Data Class that would be assigned to my VSAMS and Db2 refused to start.

Lesson learned: Not only learn what type of SMS Class sets what attributes. The ability to read the SMS ACS routines will answer many questions before you contact your Storage Admin.

By the way.. In Db2 for v12 you’ll also need to learn these concepts if you want to explore the concept of Pervasive Encryption in FL502.

 

Knowing a bit of RACF

How do you explain to your Security Admin the purpose of the RACF profile <SSID>.DIST in the DSNR RACF Class? If your Sec Admin didn’t know about it, then it’ll be your duty to learn a bit on RACF, explain it to them, and then give examples on how to assign the READ privilege to the profile.

How can you limit the access of the remote users to specific IP addresses?

A common bad practice I’ve seen several times is teams sharing the remote user for their testing purposes. To avoid this problem, you’ll have to learn one more RACF concept, which is the idea behind the RACF SERVAUTH Class.

 

Knowing a bit on WLM

This topic becomes much more relevant when you have several remote applications and you need to decide on priorities. You’ll have to learn how to assign Service Classes (or how to request for someone to assign them). Remember that DDF threads have enclaves associated to them, and enclaves can in turn have a Service Class.

 

You don’t really need to know all the details on every topic, and you need to have 3 lives of accumulated knowledge (despite what you’ll see in most LinkedIn job postings).

 

Now I’ll present to you the feedback I obtained when I asked several people on the topic of “extra knowledge”. All names have been omitted, of course.

Common topics

Almost everyone mentioned they wish they knew more about these topics.

Data Visualization. For the topic of reporting and communication, Data Visualization is key since your perception as a DBA can be affected by how reporting is being done when it matters most, for example, in a war room meeting where you’ll show how Db2 has been up and running all this time and the application misbehaved. Presentation skills was also mentioned as part of this category.

Data Analytics and log data analysis. Becoming a Data Scientist is not a must, but the skills to analyze your data, detect trends and being able to communicate such findings is a set of skills we should all learn about. Other relevant names include log data analysis by using third party tools focused on the visualization part (the name Kibana appeared a few times), so that you’ll only have to import your data and choose the most meaningful visualization according to your needs.

 

Some topics from Db2 LUW

These first two topics appeared as I asked people around. Everyone agrees on learning about these two topics:

  1. Dockers
  2. Kubernetes

On the other hand, “open-ness” is also a trend, where there were several mentions of other environments and tools, such as:

  • Git
  • Jenkins
  • Liquibase
  • Interaction with tools such as Splunk


A couple topics for Db2 for z/OS

The majority of replies I obtained are related to Db2 for z/OS, and a few war stories were shared.

Knowing a bit of Capacity Planning

The problem: Slow CICS transactions

The causer: After some digging, the DBA found out that the Db2 subsystem was constantly archiving logs every few seconds. A while after that, the DBA found out that the Db2 archive logs were allocated with only a few cylinders in size.

The solution: Know your environment, and define your structures according to the expected workload.

 

The problem: Data connectivity to Db2

It might look exaggerated to some, but every once in a while we hear a question similar to this:

“Can you tell me how to configure my server to connect to your database? It is your Db2 after all, so you should know”

As the means to connect increase (JDBC, ODBC, REST, etc) and the number of servers supporting these protocols also increase, it’s almost essential that we need to understand what type of server will connect to our Db2 and even how to set up the right configuration.

 

Closing thoughts

We can confirm with a short talk with other colleagues. Being a DBA these days is not the same as it was being a DBA 10 years ago, and while it requires commitment to learn and apply concepts from other areas, it is even more important to choose wisely to know what type of extra skills provides more value as technology and trends evolve.

 

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