Articles & Content
The Fillmore Group was founded by IBM DB2 Gold Consultant Frank C. Fillmore, Jr.
Note: The content of this blog is the opinion and thoughts of the blogger and does not necessarily represent the opinions of IDUG.
Skipping ThinkFrank asked me to respond to an email from an IBM’er asking whether we will be at the Think Conference in Las Vegas. I started the reply and then decided – in the interest of efficiency – to post my response on our blog so that I can direct inquiries here. Apparently there’s a bit of pressure on to boost attendance. After attending every IOD, Insight and World of Watson conference, Frank and I have decided to skip Think. The arc of the annual IBM data-centric conferences has in many ways paralleled the arc of The Fillmore Group over the past 10 years. I haven’t given up on achieving success in the future, but the status quo is unsettling. Some history: when IBM announced the first Information on Demand/IOD Conference, I was fairly new to The Fillmore Group. I sold and coordinated technical training for companies in the Mid-Atlantic prior to joining TFG and was involved in the Greater Baltimore Tech Council, whose quarterly wine tastings were legendary – fun, great for business, and fabulous networking. Frank loved the idea, and we hosted our first wine tasting at the first IOD annual conference in Anaheim. At this event I was introduced to the IBM Lab Services Data Management team, who became our largest customer for the next three years. After the first year the conference was moved to Las Vegas, where each year we have rented a suite and hosted a champagne tasting. One year we couldn’t get a large enough suite and had to put the champagne in the bathtub (see the picture below – only in Vegas!) I recall that year particularly vividly as Frank gushed afterward at the number of IBM Data Management VP’s in attendance (6 – and my guess is he can still name them!) We had a great time introducing IBM’ers to their colleagues and wow’ing our customers by introducing them to the stars of the Db2 world. At one of the conferences Steve Mills attended our event as well as the IBM Data Champions luncheon where he gave Frank an award for our consulting team’s support of the JP Morgan Chase Oracle to Db2 migration effort. Frank is rarely speechless; on this occasion he was. So why aren’t we looking forward to another conference? First, we want to be where our customers are. I am the chairman of the Baltimore/Washington Db2 Users Group and I only know of one of my member organizations sending people to Think. We have a lot of Federal agency members, and they stopped attending years ago, but even the commercial customers don’t seem to be interested. I believe the Db2 technical people, if attending any conference at all in 2018, will be at IDUG. The IDUG session abstracts explain what will be presented in a font that allows for the use of multiple words, and the topics are of interest to the audience. I understand a few will be at SHARE next week…along with most of the IBM z technical team. Who can afford 3 weeks out of the field attending conferences before the end of the first half? Second, IBM’s often contradictory messaging regarding the role of Business Partners is particularly confusing this year. What is the value of this partnership and what do partners provide to IBM and its customers? What is IBM doing to support us in return? In the past there was recognition for our product promotion and outreach. For these efforts, primarily related to marketing and reselling IBM software, partners like The Fillmore Group were provided with sales leads and co-marketing funding to offset event costs. Over the past year IBM has “transformed” the Business Partner program. They claim the new program recognizes skilled partners, and claim partners will be allocated sales leads and co-marketing funding based on the achievement of technical competencies. Competencies – according to IBM – are determined by the certifications earned in a particular category, demonstrating technical skills, and reselling a minimum of one million dollars’ worth of software in each category. I giggle as I type. Our team has historically supported customers running IBM replication solutions. Has anyone paid (channeling Mike Myers’ Austin Powers as Dr. Evil) ONE MILLION DOLLARS for replication? Meanwhile IBM is trying to transform (oh that word!) their software licensing to a cloud-based, SaaS model, and encouraging Business Partners to develop the ability to collect monthly software license fees from customers. Will the new partners ever achieve the one million dollars of sales within one Analytics sub-category and qualify as “competent”? If not, will the top partners grow IBM’s software business or simply continue to slow revenue slide along with IBM? On the 2018 IBM Business Partner kickoff call, IBM’s General Manager for Global Business Partners listed his 5 top initiatives for 2018. One is to better support IBM’s top 300 resellers, of which The Fillmore Group is not one, and another is to attract new Business Partners. IBM has 19,000 Business Partners. As one of the 18,700 IBM Business Partners IBM has abandoned, we plan to attend IDUG with some technical folks and customers and hope maybe someday IBM finds us of value again in the future.
Congratulations Double Champion Frank!Frank's on a roll -- he recently received notification his US Secret clearance was approved and learned this morning he's been named an IBM Champion in a second category -- IBM System Z -- making him a "Double Champion" in both System Z and IBM Analytics. And he recently earned his Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect certification so he can help Db2 for LUW users deploy on the Amazon cloud when, you know, management tells them they must. Frank is juggling a couple current projects and managing The Fillmore Group's consultants. If you are in need of IBM System Z and/or Analytics education, consulting, staff augmentation or purchasing assistance he would be happy to chat with you about how our team can help. And don't forget to congratulate him -- he is one of four consultants recognized by IBM for the "Double Champion" status! The Fillmore Group's capabilities statement listing all the areas where we can help is attached. Take a look -- and to Frank say, CHEERS!!!! The Fillmore Group Capabilities Statement 2018
Baltimore/Washington Db2 Users Group Annual Education Event – Wednesday, March 14thI am looking forward to the Baltimore/Washington Db2 Users Group March education meeting -- in our new meeting location, the BWI Hilton!! After months of discussion the board decided this location offers our members convenience, better traffic routes and an improved lunch facility (the Flight Deck; even sounds fun!) The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14th, from 9:00am -- 4:00pm. The cost is $250 in advance and $350 at the door. Register HERE. March is of course the group's annual education session. This year the group has invited Tony Andrews of Themis to present. Tony's full-day session consists of topics selected specifically to assist developers with Db2 SQL programming performance and best practices. Attendees will gain knowledge of SQL programming, performance and tuning, and the SQL-PL native Stored Procedure language. The material provided to each attendee will include: -- SQL Standards and Guidelines -- SQL coding best practices -- SQL-PL coding best practices -- Many great SQL examples on rewrites -- SQL and program tuning tips -- SQL and program tuning step by step processes Session Topics: ? Learn the top reasons for poor performance ? Learn our top SQL rewrites every developer should know ? Learn our top SQL Tuning Tips for developers ? Learn our top reasons why you have to watch out for null columns ? Learn the top reasons why developers need to know their data ? Learn what filter factors are and why they are so important ? Learn our top 10 steps to tuning a query or program ? Learn our top SQL-PL stored procedures best practices Presenter Tony Andrews, Themis Inc., Consultant and Trainer Tony Andrews has more than 25 years’ experience in the development of relational database applications. For most of this time he has provided development and consulting services to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. Tony has written literally thousands of queries and programs and has also served as a database analyst. For the last 10 years Tony has been splitting his time between performance and tuning consulting engagements and training. His main focus is to teach today’s developers the ways of RDMS application design, development and SQL programming --- always with a special emphasis on improving performance. He is a current IBM Champion, and regular speaker at many regional user groups, IDUG NA, and IDUG EMEA. He is also the author of a book for developers titled ‘DB2 SQL Tuning Tips for z/OS Developers’.
Congratulation to the 2018 IBM Champions!My post is a bit late – and a bit self-referential. But sincere! Congratulations to all the 2018 IBM Champions!!! According to the IBM “Champion of Champions” Libby Ingrassia, IBM reviewed more than 1400 nominations, and selected 650 Champions for 2018. The Champions program recognizes and rewards independent IT professionals, business leaders, developers, and educators who influence and mentor others to help them innovate and transform digitally with IBM software, solutions, and services. Champions invest time supporting community efforts -- coordinating users groups, writing articles and blog posts, presenting at conferences -- and in a variety of ways that enable users to connect with the IBM community and succeed with IBM solutions. I am extremely proud to recognize so many names on the list who have worked with The Fillmore Group over the years, and who not only succeed in some of the most challenging customer environments, but take the time to share what they've learned with others and continue to support and promote the community. Libby has the names of all the 2018 IBM Champions in her January 31st blog post, and more interesting information on the program as well. Congrats!!!
2018 Events – So Much To Do!With IBM's consolidation of conferences resulting in the cancellation of last Fall's World of Watson/Insight/IOD Conference, and the merge into March's upcoming Think conference, Db2 users have several educational event options to consider. With training and education budgets continuing to shrink, and the use of contractors (who need to be billable, and know everything already, right?) growing, getting funding and approval to attend events is more challenging than ever. However, with so many choices, I hope you will find something that's a good fit, and have the opportunity to network with the Db2 community. Here's a short list of the events I am hoping to attend -- and why: Hands-on IDAA/IIAS Training, Date TBD (February or March), Baltimore, Maryland Frank Fillmore is developing a new 2-day hands-on training class to introduce the IBM Db2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) and it's new version, the IBM Integrated Analytics System (IIAS), featuring BLU Acceleration and available as an appliance or a z/Linux software solution. Class will focus on use case development, determining the right fit deployment option for your organization, implementation and administration. Frank has been delivering similar classes since the release of the IDAA and has helped many System z customers understand the accelerator value. Why attend? The IDAA/IIAS solution is an incredible addition to the System z environment, Frank is an excellent presenter, and class is *FREE* To register: keep an eye on our blog or email me if you would like me to notify you when class is scheduled. Baltimore/Washington Db2 Users Group Education Session with Themis, Wednesday, March 14th, BWI Hilton, Linthicum Heights, MD Every March the Baltimore/Washington Db2 Users Group offers a full-day education session. These sessions are evaluated by our board and intended to provide the best local full-day of training available in the area each year. The March session will be delivered by IBM Champion and author Tony Andrews from Themis, and will focus on SQL programming, performance, and tuning, as well as the SQL-PL native Stored Procedures language. Why attend? The annual education day presenters reads like "Who's Who in Db2" and the sessions are consistently terrific. Tony is an excellent presenter, the event is local for Baltimore/Washington area Db2 users, and it's our group's first meeting at our new BWI Hilton location. To register: visit the Baltimore/Washington Db2 Users Group webpage. Cost: $250 in advance and $300 at the door. The fee includes materials and a sit-down lunch. Think 2018, March 19 -- March 22, Las Vegas, NV IBM has consolidated several technical conferences into Think, with the conference topics covering AI, Cloud, Data, Security, and Systems. As last year's World of Watson/Insight/IOD annual data-centric conference was cancelled, Db2 users are interested in better understanding IBM's direction and how the continued IBM transformation will impact their organizations. Why attend? This is usually the largest annual gathering of Db2 users. Great networking, excellent presenters, superb people watching. Maybe some answers to those nagging "what's next?" questions?? To register: visit the Think registration page. Cost: $2,295 for the week; $895 for a single day pass. *Before registering ask your IBM rep for help with the cost of the pass.* IDUG Philadelphia, April 29 -- May 3, Philadelphia, PA The annual North America Db2 conference will be held in downtown Philadelphia this year, an easy and inexpensive commute for Mid-Atlantic organizations like The Fillmore Group. The IDUG conference is where the Db2 community and IBM are focusing on the delivery of hard-core technical content. With 5 days of education sessions, workshops, over 100 technical briefings and an experts' panel, this year's IDUG conference, while smaller than Think, will likely offer the best technical education value for Db2 users. Why attend? IDUG will deliver top-notch Db2 technical presenters and presentations. Great networking and friendly -- very community focused. To register: visit the IDUG North America 2018 conference webpage. Cost: $1,865 through March 16 (early bird). Need help funding a conference pass? There are many discounts and community offers -- contact the IDUG Conference Planning Committee (CPC) for help.
2018 New Year’s Resolutions – Let’s Get Started! As always the holidays are over too soon. Here at The Fillmore Group we are back to work, starting the year with the usual goal setting and head scratching. Three initiatives we worked on in 2017 showed a great deal of promise but never seemed to quite gain the traction we had hoped for. So, unlike in prior years when I would start with a blank page, I am committing myself to pushing these three harder in 2018, as all three offer terrific options to maximize the value of an organization's data assets. These are: Oracle to Db2 database migrations. Last year IBM offered discounted Db2 licenses to current Oracle customers -- and when I say "discounted" I mean practically gave them away. Frank Fillmore and I delivered several competitive migration presentations and got lots of positive feedback from Oracle customers. Still, we didn't see a lot of Db2 adoption from these folks and I'm sorry -- for them and us. This is a head-scratcher, because I'm not sure where we are getting snagged, but we need to figure it out in 2018. IDAA/IIAS/HTAP vs. "edge systems". Admittedly 2017 was a bit of a transition year for the IBM Db2 Analytics Accelerator (aka the IDAA) as IBM completely revamped the design, replacing the Netezza-bolted-to-a-mainframe with 2 Db2 BLU Acceleration-based options to deliver the Hybrid Transaction Analytic Processing (HTAP) capability. Meanwhile in 2017 analysts were predicting that edge systems are the future -- sounding frighteningly like they did in the late 1990's when the standalone data warehouse was the next big thing. It makes absolutely no sense to me to build out a completely new system, particularly on the periphery of an organization's most secure system, to perform analytics when IBM has clearly demonstrated you can leave the data in place and perform both your OLTP and analytic processing in tandem. We need to continue to educate customers to ensure they understand the overall value -- reducing complexity, reducing cost, and keeping data secure. The new BLU-based version has a new name: IBM Integrated Analytics System -- IIAS. Supporting the Db2 eco-system. This is such a no-brainer but one that needs constant attention, effort and input to maintain. IBM formal classroom education offerings are minimal. Conferences -- IBM and IDUG -- are changing and it's difficult to determine which is most appropriate to attend. Users groups (including the Balto/Washington Db2 Users Group) are struggling to provide our users with unbiased product information, education and resources. We aren't giving up and hope the greater Db2 community continues to work to stay active and involved within the community and within our individual organizations. If we want to stay relevant we need to stay involved. Happy 2018! Off to work!
First Half 2018 Classes Posted at www/ibm.com/trainingThe Fillmore Group 1H 2018 Class Schedule As an IBM Business Partner that truly believes that proper training is one of the most critical factors influencing the successful deployment and use of technology, we here at The Fillmore Group continue to evaluate the IBM Analytics courses available and to select those we feel will potentially help IBM Analytics customers succeed. And, of course, as we believe affordable technical services are another of those critical factors influencing success, we are happy to customize classes and include them along with a fully scoped implementation or healthcheck effort. One highlight and two classes NOT posted on the IBM website. First, the highlight. We've been told that pureScale is finally being adopted by Db2 LUW customers. This is great news as it is great technology, featuring one of the best System z features (Parallel Sysplex) re-imagined for distributed environments. Unfortunately, the course curriculum was written for the original version of pureScale, v10.5, and hasn't been updated to reflect the enhancements in v11. Nor does the course include hands-on exercises. We have a solution: Frank Fillmore recently delivered the class to a group of students implementing v11 and updated the materials and built hands-on exercises. Second, two classes NOT posted on the IBM website but available in the first half of 2018: hands-on IBM Integrated Analytics System (IIAS), the just-released upgrade to the IBM Db2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) and QMF for Multi-Platforms. We are working on curriculum for both of these classes and hope to have them scheduled for sometime early in the year -- we are targeting February for the IIAS class and March for QMF. If you are interested in either class please let me know.
It’s Q4 and the Second Opinion Clinic is Open It's Q4 -- and that means IBM software sellers are making their best deals. As an IBM customer, you know the year end deals are the best available, right? I hope so...but if you have any doubt and/or think getting a second opinion may help validate just how great the pricing is, please contact The Fillmore Group for a free second opinion. And, of course, if you need help implementing the solution being proposed, or education to ensure your team is able to effectively support the new solution, we would be happy to provide a services estimate. As an IBM Authorized Training Partner, expert consulting provider and Analytics Reseller (for both distributed/PPA software and System z), we have access to IBM customer discount levels and understand the various packaging and pricing metrics used for solution sizing and selection. Don't let PVU vs. TB sizing, sub-capacity and limited use licensing confuse you into spending more than you need to...click HERE to contact us for an explanation and a second opinion. The doctor is in!
Webinar Thursday: Calling IBM Sellers with Q4 Deals!Sirius/XM already has the Holly channel playing Christmas music and Halloween was just a couple weeks ago. It’s way too early! But…the clock IS ticking and there really are only 4 solid weeks left in 2017 to close some of those, “I’ll get to them later” deals. This Thursday The Fillmore Group will deliver a webinar for IBM sellers willing to consider collaborating with a Business Partner. We understand many sellers have heard about – or experienced – unsuccessful teaming with a partner. Join us to overcome your fears! In this session we will *try* to explain that not all partners are alike, and some (like The Fillmore Group) can help you close deals by extending your reach and helping with challenging technical situations (which product is the “right” one?), arcane licensing and packaging research, and using an implementation discussion to address a customer’s concerns about the cost of services and education (yes Oracle takeout opportunities, I’m talking about you!) IBM program challenges that impact Business Partners will also be explained, so that IBM sellers understand why partners get so antsy about keeping the lines of communication wide open – and getting added to sales records. All in 30 fast minutes. If you are an IBM seller who would love to close an extra deal or two before year end, please join us. If you aren’t an IBM seller, please join us for another webinar; this one is just for sellers. The session will take place on Thursday, November 16th from 11:00am – 11:30am EST. Register HERE.
We’re Here – Use Us!I really enjoyed Lisbon and seeing everyone at the IDUG Conference. More than one person commented on the turnout (excellent) and the crowd (young!) There seems to be some new energy in the Db2 community, in part, I believe, as long-time Db2 users are accepting that in spite of IBM's perpetual "re-invention", the folks using their tried-and-true technologies -- the ones that built up the war chest funding the re-invention -- continue to deliver state-of-the-art performance and functionality. The technology is excellent, users are lucky to work with it, and the experts who have invested their best career years in Db2 are ready to work. So now what? With IBM's current "Oracle Attack" promotion customers can purchase Db2 for as little as 20% of their annual Oracle support cost. I understand there are several Oracle customers preparing to migrate to Db2. Does this mean Db2 will (finally) show up on one of those "most popular relational database" graphs? I hope so! And, along with these migrations the demand for services to support them is growing, so there are more opportunities for customers to get to know the many skilled Db2 consultants and experts available to support their adoption of Db2. Independent consultants -- like The Fillmore Group's team -- can deliver expert services to support migrations, often at a fraction of the cost of IBM's. Many consultants have experience delivering formal classroom training as well as services, and most are actively involved in the Db2 community and happy to introduce Db2 newbies to the local users groups and IDUG. The consulting community has been promoting the Oracle Attack through webinars (view the replay of my webinar here) and blog posts (read Dave Beulke's post here), and want to make sure every prospective Db2 customer has access to skilled migration services when they are ready to make the switch. Call us! We want to support the growth of the Db2 community, and we're ready to work.