Wednesday, December 12, 2012

eSeminar - Informix and Analytics/Data Warehouse

IBM is sponsoring a eSeminar (webinar, webcast, whatever) titled "How to Lower Costs by Combining Analytical & Transactional Applications" on December 18, 2012 at 12 PM ET/9 AM PT.

If you read into the details, this is an Informix pitch, which is nice:
The holy grail of analytic technologies has long been the promise of predicting future outcomes by analyzing data "as things happen", allowing for rapid business insights and responsiveness. Challenges still remain, however, it an IT world faced with big data, cloud-hosted applications, and enterprise data warehouses.

Philip Howard, Research Director of Data Management for Bloor Research, has published many research papers, articles, and blog posts on the topics of analytics and analytic applications. His recent analysis of IBM Informix software led Philip to conclude: "… for hybrid environments, IBM Informix software has a number of unique capabilities that cannot be matched by either conventional data warehousing vendors or traditional data warehouses."

In this eSeminar, Philip will discuss various types of analytics and data warehouse environments and the facilities required to support each. There will also be an overview of Informix functionality from Kevin Brown, Informix Database Chief Architect, IBM.

I assume this presentation will cover IWA or TimeSeries and how awesome they are and will hopefully reach some people who aren't already in the know about Informix like yourself.

Register for this free event today

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Informix User Group Meetings in North America

If you are in North Texas, Chicago, Colorado or the Great Northwest and you are an Informix fanatic (why else would you be reading this?) then you need to plan to attend the Local Informix User Group meetings scheduled for the very near future.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ok, This is Pretty Cool

The article talks about an Oncor, an energy company in Texas that services more than 3 million homes with electricity, that is using Informix (presumably TimeSeries, but not mentioned specifically) to do all kinds of bad ass things.
The smart grid is based on IBM hardware and software, including IBM POWER7 Servers and IBM Informix database software to manage the massive amounts of data produced by the smart meters. As a result of using Informix software instead of their prior data management solution
  • Meter data was loaded 20 times faster, and query performance increased up to 30 times faster. This is significant because faster processing of meter data enables faster business processes that use that data (such as meter-to-cash), and faster data analysis. 
  • Data storage needs were reduced by 70 percent and remained linear over time, allowing for predictable data storage requirements and significant cost savings.
I wrote a couple of blog posts in September 2011 after attending an IBM Smart Metering Summit in Austin, TX, if you'd like to check them out.

Smart Metering Data Summit
This Smart Meter Stuff is for Real

Now, the big question is: Will we see or hear about this outside of and are there more TimeSeries deals in the pipeline? That would be great for Informix, like I said in 2011 this smart meter stuff is for real and IBM definitely has the superior product to handle this kind of data.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dynamite Roll

On my way to work this morning, there was a news story on the radio about a new cologne called Sushi. The product description explains this unique product:
Not what you think it would smell like! Demeter's Sushi is the fresh scent of just cooked sticky rice and straight from the seaside seaweed, laced with hints of ginger and lemon essences. Simply delectable... after all, if it smelledlike fish, would you wear it?
This reminded me of an old joke about Informix Software (the company) and how they marketed their products:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

IIUG 2013 Updates

Some things to note about IIUG 2013:

Registration is now open - Register before January 17, 2013 to get the $225 Early Registration Discount.

Register as an IIUG member and receive and additional $100 discount.

The IIUG 2013 Cost Justification Document is now available if you need some help convincing your boss that IIUG 2013 is an effective way to spend your 2013 training dollars.

In previous years the Tutorials were held on Sunday before the conference started and cost extra, this year the Tutorials will be held on Thursday after the conference and are INCLUDED for all paid attendees.

The Tutorials are expected to fill quickly so reserve your spot as soon as possible, if you register early before the Tutorial schedule is released you will be able to return to your registration and make your Tutorial suggestions.

The Conference Planning Committee (CPC) is still accepting session abstracts if you would like to present at IIUG 2013 and receive a complimentary conference pass. Submit your idea to before November 15, 2012.

It is going to be another great conference in beautiful California in 2013. The CPC is busy planning Sessions, Food, Parties, Exhibitors, Keynotes, Tutorials, Certifications and everything else, I hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fix list for Informix 11.70.xC6

As Fernando Nunes already pointed out, 11.70.xC6 was released October 23. New releases always pique my interest and the first thing I do is checkout the What's New page in the documentation. After I sift through the new features list and mentally classify them into "Yes! Finally", "Useful", "Meh" and "I'll Bet Someone Needs That, But I Don't" groups I like to take a look at the non feature additions to the release, the bug fixes.

IIUG 2013 - Going Back to Cali

IIUG 2013 - The Premier Technical Conference for Informix Fanatics - will return to beautiful Southern California and the San Diego Mission Valley Marriott April 21 - 25, 2013.

The IIUG 2013 Conference Planning Committee is currently accepting presentation abstracts until November 15, 2012. If you would like to speak at this year's conference and receive a complimentary conference pass you can submit your idea to and find more information about speaking at

Monday, October 22, 2012

Using Data Distributions to Write Better Code

I was recently asked to go back and look at some code to see if there was a way to speed things up because over time performance had decreased to unacceptable levels. Because I'm a DBA first and a developer second, I started with the SQLs, tables and indexes to see if there was anything obvious. There wasn't, but I did find the following query being run a lot and it looked funky so I started to investigate.

select first 1
   col1 = "A" or
   col1 = "AB" or
   col1 = "ABC" or
   col1 = "ABCD" or
   col1 = "ABCDE" or
   col1 = "ABCDEF" or
   col1 = "ABCDEFG" or
   col1 = "ABCDEFGH" or
   col1 = "ABCDEFGHI"
order by
   length(col1) desc

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Developers Do the Darndest Things - Episode 1

We had an issue today where some code went crazy and started slamming one of engines with new connection requests, which led to all kinds of fun problems with dynamically allocated shared memory segments, out of memory problems and eventually an engine reboot.

I was taking a look at the code for the application to try and figure out what went wrong and I saw something like the following. It wasn't the cause of the problem, but I don't think it helped.

   for i = 0; i < 5; i++:
      ret = connect_to_database();

      if ret = SUCCESS:

   if ret != SUCCESS:
      print "unable to connect to database"

Well, it was something like that. Basically try to connect to the database and retry a few times before giving up and throwing some kind of error.

So, what's the big deal? It looks reasonable enough. In my opinion there really isn't much use in retrying the connection attempt in a loop like this unless you're going to go to sleep in between attempts.

Look at what happens, you just got told your attempt to connect failed. What are the chances the problem is resolved a nanosecond later when you loop back and try to connect again? Almost zero. All you've done is throw an additional 4 connection requests at the engine while it is having some kind of a problem, possibly making the problem worse (especially if you have multiple apps/clients doing the same thing).

I realize you can't sleep forever, but sleeping here for even 1 second would have spread the 5 connection attempts over 5 seconds instead of 5 nanoseconds and has a much better chance of actually doing what it was intended to do by recovering gracefully from an intermittent DB problem rather than causing more problems.

Ugh. Thanks for the Bad News, Kernoal

Kernoal Stevens commented on another blog post that in the later versions of Innovator-C not only do we have the new 1 core limit, but Innovator-C will no longer support ER or HDR.

What a bummer, here is the README from the Innovator-C download page that confirms this new limitation:
Changes to Replication in Informix 11.70.xC5 Innovator-C edition

For 11.70.xC5, Informix Innovator-C edition no longer supports Enterprise Replication (ER) or High-availability data replication (HDR). If you were using replication in an older version of Innovator-C, you must disable replication after upgrading to 11.70.xC5.

If you want to continue using replication in Informix 11.70.xC5, you can purchase the Choice, Growth or Ultimate edition. 

Removing Enterprise Replication 

If Enterprise Replication was defined for the previous version of the server, remove replication by running the following command:  

cdr delete server  --force

Removing HDR

If  High-availability data replication was defined for the previous version of the server, convert the server to a standard server by running the following command:

onmode -d standard
This just makes me sad. I understand that IBM needs to make a profit and to do that they can't be giving away everything for free. I get that, I really do, but HDR was the kind of feature that made Innovator-C stand out when compared to other free RDBMS options and now it is gone. Oh well, thanks for the free parking while it lasted.

Ace Ventura - The Monopoly Guy
You must be the Monopoly Guy

Monday, July 2, 2012

IIUG Insider Issue #144 - June 2012

If you don't get the IIUG Insider delivered directly to your inbox, you may not be aware that June Insider has just been published.

Here is the editorial, which I always find interesting and sometimes harsh, but fair.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Informix and the Fightin' Kangaroos

Praveen Rao, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, says the word Informix at 0:58 in the following video:

This is actually pretty satisfying for me. When I was on the IIUG Board we decided it would be a good idea to offer a free 1 day conference pass for the 2010 IIUG Informix conference in Overland Park to the Computer Science professors in the area. With help from IBM we were able to get Praveen and others to come and experience the Informix technology and interact with the Informix fanatics at IIUG2010.

I'm happy to see Praveen chose to include Informix in his curriculum and take advantage of the academic materials IBM provides and hope others will too.

Here is the original article.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Innovator-C: 446 Days of Continuous Uptime in Jeopardy

This morning Hannes Visagie posted to the IIUG SIGs about a change to the Innovator-C limitations listed on the IBM Informix Innovator-C page that states Innovator-C will be limited to run on 1 core, down from the previous limitation of 4 cores. I sure hope this refers to CPUVPs and not hardware cores in the server, because who has a single core machine handy these days?

Friday, June 22, 2012

lockwt - My go to utility for finding locking problems

If you haven't already added lockwt to your arsenal of Informix DBA tools, you need to immediately.

lockwt is a free utility written by Eric Herber of the The Informix ZoneplanetIDS and Herber Consulting that can be downloaded here and is infinitely helpful when you get the midnight call to find out why a table is locked and everyone is screaming.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Informix Remix

I didn't expect to find this in my Google Alerts for Informix today...

Informix Remix

For my Brazilian friends, they're coming to a club near you in July!

Advanced DataTools Fastest DBA Webcast

Don't forget to register for the Fastest Informix DBA webcast tomorrow. Lester, Art and I will be talking about how the winners achieved our results at IIUG 2012. In my case, I'm going to go with lots and lots of luck and a power surge that gave Lester's Mac Mini Server super computing strength at the precise moment I started my benchmark run.

Here is the info:

Advanced DataTools held our latest Fastest Informix DBA Contest, at the 2012 IIUG Informix Conference, April 22-25, 2012 in San Diego, California. Andrew Ford, was the Grand Prize Winner of the new Apple iPad and the Fastest Overall Informix DBA.

Andrew's results were almost three times faster than the next closest contestant's results. This year the contest was run on an Apple Mac Mini Server, using Informix Enterprise 11.70.FC4. The server is very small and inexpensive, 1.4 inches by 7.7 inches square. The CPU is an Intel Core i7 with 4 cores, and includes 8GB of RAM, and it has two disk drives, one for the application and one for the database. It is amazing to see 1,000 user sessions running on this little box and to achieve the level of throughput that Andrew accomplished. The goal of the contest was to see who could optimize an Informix database server running 1,000 OLTP users in under one hour, and generate the most transactions per minute. Andrew generated over 57,000 transactions per minute. We used the Open Source BenchmarkSQL Java program to generate the transactions for this contest. The BenchmarkSQL is a JDBC benchmark that closely resembles the TPC-C standard for OLTP. It is a Java program that generates 1,000 sessions doing inserts, updates, and deletes against the Informix database server.

Webcast: Fastest Informix DBA Contest - How did they do it?
Date: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 at 2:00pm EST

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Innovator-C: Approaching 400 Days of Up Time

IBM Informix Dynamic Server Version 11.70.FC2IE -- On-Line (Prim) -- Up 398 days 01:11:10 -- 2084080 Kbytes

Put into production over a year ago in April 2011, Innovator-C has just been cruising along with no problems and no signs of slowing down.

Just a single socket, quad core Intel machine with 2GB allocated to Informix and a couple of internal drives mirrored RAID1 using cooked chunks, Innovator-C is able to handle an average of 700,000 new session requests, 4 million commits, 900K rollbacks and 3.5 billion ISAM calls per day. This is just what our production load throws at it, I don't know what the actual limits are. Judging from CPU usage and current response times, Innovator-C running on this lower end hardware can handle much more.

Makes me question why someone would choose a different free or low cost engine for smaller installations, especially considering there is a well defined upgrade path to Growth and Ultimate as your need for speed increases. It definitely can't be because of technical reasons. Most likely they don't even know Innovator-C is a free for production option. Heck, there were people at IIUG2012 that didn't know Innovator-C was a free for production option and these are the Informix Fanatics!

You might have noticed the On-Line (Prim) in my 'onstat -' above, Innovator-C comes complete with full HDR Primary/Secondary support so even the smallest of systems can have enterprise class redundancy, even though I haven't had a need for it since the engine is so stable.

May 14, 2012 Update:

IBM Informix Dynamic Server Version 11.70.FC2IE -- On-Line (Prim) -- Up 402 days 00:41:51 -- 2084080 Kbytes

Made it past the 400 day mark during Mother's Day weekend, our busiest time of the year. Of course, Informix handled the 2x spike in volume without any problems. Yawn.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Informix Port Delivers Unlimited Database Scalability for Popular SaaS Application

Google Alerts has been depositing some interesting Informix news into my inbox lately, I thought this one was interesting. Glad to see open source applications being ported to Informix.

Informix Port Delivers Unlimited Database Scalability for Popular SaaS Application

Delivers enhanced ability to create and manage large SugarCRM databases without impacting performance even for extremely large users

London, UK (PRWEB UK) 7 February 2012
Oninit, the leading Informix services company, announces that SugarCRM, the world’s fastest-growing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, has been ported onto IBM’s Informix, effectively eliminating some of the scalability concerns that can exist with this and many other Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. This brings together one of the world’s fastest and most flexible databases with a hugely popular open source application, and effectively demonstrates to application developers the suitability of Informix as a core database platform for SaaS applications.
SugarCRM, a leading open source CRM solution, is increasingly being used by larger enterprises and governments whose data management needs can increase exponentially as usage gathers momentum. With an Informix database in place SugarCRM users will be able to create and manage extremely heavily populated CRM systems without seeing a decrease in performance. Some databases which are traditionally used to build SaaS applications, or which are used as enterprise database servers to support such applications in-house, can struggle to maintain referential integrity and speeds of query response as the amount of information being stored and managed increases.
States John Baker, Managing Director of Oninit Group: “After several months of development in partnership with systems integrator i2Global, we are delighted to see SugarCRM running efficiently on Informix. With the demand for SaaS increasing, it made business sense to demonstrate Informix’s perfect suitability for the job. Delivering SugarCRM on Informix shows that it can easily power a major SaaS application. It offers unlimited growth, outstanding performance and is the ideal platform for creating and managing heavily populated databases.”
Using SugarCRM on Informix has also simplified and speeded up the data upload process. Recent tests by i2Global show that large amounts of records can be uploaded in minutes, as opposed to many hours as experienced with another often-used SQL database, representing significant user time savings.
Partnership of partners
The desire to prove Informix within large scale SaaS environments was stimulated in part by demand from China and other rapidly growing emerging markets which feature extremely large organisations supporting huge numbers of corporate users, for whom scalability is a real potential barrier.
The decision to port Sugar CRM onto Informix as the first implementation was validated by the groundbreaking partnership recently signed between Oninit and US IBM reseller, PreferredPartner, which is actively providing IBM-based information technology solutions to the Chinese market where there is high demand for efficient, extensible, and affordable CRM solutions based on world-class IBM database technologies, something that Sugar CRM on Informix uniquely provides.
Explains Craig Humphreys, Vice President of Technology, at PreferredPartner: “The opportunity in China for SugarCRM on Informix is quite substantial. With this ‘partnership of partners,’ combining our knowledge of the Chinese market, our development experience extending the capabilities of Sugar CRM, and Oninit’s network of Informix expertise such as i2Global, we have rapidly developed a solution to meet the demands of this massive emerging market. Within a short space of time, we are already conducting demonstrations in China, particularly in the financial services and distribution industries.”
SugarCRM is the leading Open Source CRM which users can deploy either in the cloud or on their own servers, and is becoming a highly popular platform for third party integration.
About Oninit
Oninit was founded in 1999 as a specialist Informix developer and consulting team, and since that time has grown into a leading Informix services company providing a range of Informix database and application development, support and training services to companies in the UK and across EMEA from its base in Cirencester, UK.
Informix is deeply embedded in the enterprise IT systems of many thousands of companies worldwide. Oninit provides the vital Informix technical support and development services which are required by these complex systems.
Oninit helps companies to develop new Informix applications as well as support, enhance, integrate and modernise applications running on older installations. It works with customers to upgrade and modernise these to take maximum advantage of the latest Informix technical enhancements and additions, ensuring a roadmap for their future IT or establishing an evolutionary path to more modern open or virtualised architectures.
More information can be found at
About PreferredPartner
Founded in 2000, PreferredPartner has a unique business model that has propelled the company into a top world-wide IBM Premier Business Partner. PreferredPartner provides full solutions in Passport Advantage and Application Specific Licensing models, as well as provisioning, implementation, and full-scale professional services. PreferredPartner provides end-to-end customer and ISV/Integrator solutions based on IBM Information Management, Tivoli, WebSphere, Lotus, and Rational, and Security software.
For more information visit