Friday, November 09, 2012

The Tech Side of #SocBiz - Working with DB2 Databases

All right, so you're doing the Social Business and/or mobile thing.  You're talking about deploying (or may have already deployed) Sametime, Connections, Lotus Mobile Connect, Lotus Notes Traveler, and/or Websphere Portal.  Well, there's something behind the scenes that you should know - you're going to be, at least in part, a.....wait for it....database analyst!

Surprised?  Well, all of these products depend upon database services provided by IBM's DB2 database product.  Sure, DB2 has been around for quite some time, but it's likely that you (as an "applications team" person) never really had to step into that world of tables, elements and SQL.  That's going to change, if for no other reason that your own vested interests in performance tuning, system monitoring and other typical admin tasks.  For instance, Sametime meeting rooms are now (as of the 8.5 release) nothing more than database constructs; just about everything that goes on in a Sametime meeting room is stored in the backend DB2 database.  (That's how you get the "always on" feature!)  Ditto for the content in Connections.  So, you'll need to dip your toes into the DB2 water and get a feel for things.

Well, IBM has a few tools that can help you get up to speed before you ever start that first deployment.  Best of all, they're FREE!

Obviously, most of us don't have a "spare server" laying about on which to install DB2 in all its glory...but there's an easier way to get started.  DB2 Express-C is a fully functional "mini-DB2" database product; basically, its limitations are a single install (i.e. no clustering/failover facility) and throttled horsepower (it will only use up to 2 CPU cores and 4GB of RAM).  It's available for Windows (32- and 64-bit), Linux (32-/64-bit Intel and POWER), Solaris X86-64 and Mac OS X.  (Yes, you can run DB2 on your Mac!)  DB2 Express-C will let you try your hand at just about anything you'll need to do in a production DB2 environment, including developing your own stored SQL procedures and implementing a DB2 security model.  Why, an enterprising person might even take the database creation scripts from a Sametime install CD and create that exact same environment in DB2 Express-C!  (Yes, that's a hint...)  There's even a free "Getting Started with DB2 Express-C" book available for download, so there's no reason not to jump on board.

Now that you have a DB2 server, you'll want a tool with which to "go explore."  Enter IBM Data Studio.  This Eclipse application has guided steps for most of the common database activities, so it's a simple thing from the start.   You can do everything from direct database management (e.g. dropping/creating databases, modifying tables) to health monitoring and job management (with the add-on Web Console component).  I found Data Studio exceptionally simple to use, and was doing production work within roughly 15 minutes of installation.  It's available for Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux, and Windows, and there's also a free "Getting Started with IBM Data Studio" book to be had as well.

Whether you're planning for a specific deployment, learning DB2 for the first time, or just wanting to know enough to speak with your database team in their native language, these DB2 tools should be more then enough to send you on your way.


The Tech Side of #SocBiz - What Do You Need to Know?

OK, so you've read the analyst reports, scanned the press releases, dug into the latest IBM study ("The Business of Social Business", from Eric Lesser and IBM's Institute for Business Value)...and Social Business is shaping up to be a big part of your company's strategic plan.

That's all well and good, but we're techies; our concerns are often (if not usually) more tactical and immediate than those seen in analyst reports, press releases and research studies.  We're the nuts-and-bolts folks, so we want to know what will be expected of us, so that we can take stock of our knowledge and improve upon it where necessary.  It's a question that deals with more than just installation and configuration; we may need to open up to "big picture" thinking in ways the typical (if you'll pardon the term) "paradigm shift" does not require.

So, the question is simple - what do you need to know and understand to make your transition to Social Business easier?  Hopefully, this blog can start providing answers.  In the weeks to come, you'll be seeing a series of articles titled "The Tech Side of #SocBiz", in which I'll explore what IBM products, capabilities and/or technologies can add information and skills to your arsenal.  Some (as you'll see this weekend, in the very first article) will be free tools that you can use to build your chops without a significant investment in hardware or software; others will be capabilities that already exist within the various products, but go unnoticed and unused by many admins.  We'll talk about the entire process, from planning to deployment to troubleshooting and maintenance.

I'll tell you this much right now - I do NOT have a particular agenda, and I don't have a long list of topics ready to go.  My goal here is to identify what you need, go find the resources that can help you, and bring them back to this blog.  To that end, PLEASE take the time to drop a comment on this article (or any others in the series) to let me know what aspects of "The Tech Side of #SocBiz" you want (or need) to explore further.

Hang on - this will probably be a wild ride.