Thursday, January 12, 2017

DB2 Web Query: EZ-Install for a Fast Path to Value

DB2 Web Query EZ-Install – Now Available

One of the things I hear often at speaking engagements or by working directly with customers around the world is that they know of DB2 Web Query, would like to evaluate or get some hands on experience, but aren’t always sure how to get started and gain quick value from it. In 2016 we started thinking about ways to simplify the getting started process, and that has led to the emergence of something we’re calling the DB2 Web Query EZ-Install package!

With its availability TODAY the DB2 for i Lab Services team is providing a simplified process of obtaining and installing the complete suite of DB2 Web Query trial software. The products are at the latest level (including Group PTFs already applied) and include both Express Edition, Standard Edition, and the DataMigrator ETL tool. The trial code period for this is 70 days, although you could choose to apply license keys at any time and have this become permanent (just keep in mind your license keys will dictate which components you have purchased which may be less than the entire suite you’ve got in this package). Also note that while this package is made available to you, it should not circumvent the normal ordering and acquisition process. 

One big benefit of the EZ-Install package is...IT'S EASY. A many step process including acquiring the code, installing it and setting it up is made much simpler by providing a one-stop shopping install package that also sets up the environment for you so when complete, you are ready to go to work. 

For those of you that have not previously installed DB2 Web Query, this is a great place to start. For someone with DB2 Web Query already installed, think of this as a quick way to get the latest version installed for testing or analysis purposes. Note that for existing customers with Version 1 installed, this will install Version 2.2 right next to that (if done in the same LPAR/Server). If you install the EZ-Install package in the same LPAR where you have Version 2.1 installed you should be aware that this will overlay that code with 2.2 (but EZ-Install will prompt you to make sure you really want to do that). 

The EZ-Install package is also more than just the products and set up. We've included some other goodies, including: 

  • Everything you need to start right into learning how to build reports with InfoAssist

This allows you to jump right into learning how to build reports with the InfoAssist authoring tool. Our current set of tutorials includes over 14 chapters that will make you very proficient in report authoring in no time. As part of the package we install the sample database and the meta data built over that so you're ready to dig in. 

Remember that middle school math class where you were given a problem to solve, but the complete answer was laid out for you in the Appendix of the book? If you skipped to the answer, it would circumvent your learning experience. So I encourage you to take on the challenge of completing the tutorials although we are admittedly giving you the appendix too! In other words, the package will contain the complete set of finished tutorial reports so if you need to compare what you’ve done against what the DB2 Web Query team has done, you have that ability.  Or, use those reports to demo the product to your management.

  • DB2 Web Query  Usage Reports

As a first time user, this might be of less interest but over time will be very beneficial to understand who is running what reports, which reports are taking the longest, and more. See my previous blog entry for some examples of these reports. The EZ-Install package will contain these monitoring and auditing reports and auto-install them.

  • Sample Reports for the IBM i Systems Administrator

Want to get away from green screen? The EZ-Install package includes several sample reports applicable to the metrics a Systems Admin would like to monitor and report on. Visualizations are provided over such system aspects as temp storage usage, utilization metrics such as disk I/O, CPU consumption, and spool files.   


For clients already running Version 2.2 of DB2 Web Query, we are making these sample reports available outside of the EZ-Install package. See below for acquisition details. 

  • Query/400 Report Definition Discovery Tool and Sample Reports

I just recently worked with a client that had to move to a new version of their ERP system. They were quite concerned that existing Query/400 reports would be affected by this change but had no idea how to scope that possible impact. I had them run our Discovery Tool to glean information about their current queries – how many do they have (turned out to be over 10,000), which files were used the most by these queries, which queries haven’t been used in months or years, which fields of those files are most used in selection criteria or result sets, etc. This is information gathering to assist in understanding potential impact as well as input into a modernization strategy

This Query/400 Discovery tool is now available as part of EZ-Install. It is not automatically installed as you want to read the usage guide to understand what it is doing and how to use it, but its there with some sample reports over the files that are created containing the output of the tool. 

HOW TO ACQUIRE THE EZ-INSTALL PACKAGE

Send an email to QU2@us.ibm.com requesting the DB2 Web Query EZ-Install Package. Be sure to include your: 
  • Name
  • Company Name
  • Serial Number (of where you intend to install DB2 Web Query)

NOTE: To acquire the standalone system administration samples outside of the EZ-Install package (this assumes you’ve already got Version 2.2 installed), again, send an email to QU2@us.ibm.com requesting the System Administration sample reports package and include the same information as noted above).

Everything you need will be included in the email response back to you, including a link to the package, installation guide, and information on where to go from there: HINT: ibm.biz/db2wqezinstall

Please send any feedback you have for us at QU2@us.ibm.com. We'll try to support any issues as best we can. 

You can also reach me at mackd AT us.ibm.com or on twitter @mckdrmoly if you have questions or need assistance!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

DB2 Web Query Monitoring and Audit Reports


If you’re still using Query/400 heavily in your shop, you probably have come across times where it would have been really nice to know information about those reports, such as:
  • How many queries are actually on my system, and how has that number changed over time?
  • Which queries will be impacted by changes to the underlying tables/files?
  • How old are some of these queries – and is anyone using them anymore?
  • Who is running all these queries? And should they be?
  • Which ones are running the longest time?
  • How many queries are redundant in nature, mostly doing the same exact query?
  • What is the impact to my system of all these Query/400 reports?

Answers to these questions continue to be difficult to obtain. Regularly monitoring and taking action to consolidate or clean up queries is simply not done unless it becomes problematic. One client our IBM DB2 Lab Services team worked with recently was shocked to find out that they had, unbeknownst to them, close to 40,000 Query/400 definitions on their system! Who knew?

It doesn’t have to be that way. One of the more subtle benefits of modernizing Query/400 into DB2 Web Query is the ability to get more control over the reporting environment. There are too many aspects to this to cover in one blog entry, but in the future I’ll explore more of these - such as moving the work to DB2 for i, or creating a controlled ad-hoc reporting strategy. But for now….

Want to know what reports will be affected by a change in an underlying table? DB2 Web Query includes an “impact analysis” function that builds a list of reports where an individual field is used. Or find the reports where an entire master table or “synonym” (a meta data representation of a table) is referenced. A “refresh synonym” function can automatically pick up and apply changes that have been made to a table without having to re-do all your reports (or run to see if they break)! You can read more about these features in Volume 8 of the DB2 Web Query Product Manual

New with Version 2.2 of DB2 Web Query are also a set of reports to monitor and/or audit report usage. If you are not on Version 2.2 yet, I highly recommend you get there. All of those things you wish you had in Query/400 are built into reports and dashboards shipped with Version 2.2 (Note: you need to have Group PTF Level 1 or higher applied, and there is a step to restore the reports from the change management package they are shipped in).

These reports and dashboards answer the following kinds of questions: 

  • How many reports are in each folder? Which reports are being run most often?


  • Which reports are taking the longest time to run? When was the last time it ran? 
  • Who are the most active report runners and what reports are they running? 


  • When was a report changed and who was making those modifications?



    These reports should give you plenty of insight into what’s going on with your Web Query environment, and they are ready to run by just importing the change management package. You need to be a DB2 Web Query Administrator to install them. Sign on to web query and scroll down to the bottom of the resource tree and you’ll see the “Change Management” functions. Expand and select Import and you should see a package called “IBM DB2 Web Query Information.” Right click and take the defaults to import the reports and synonyms. 

    Make sure you refresh your browser to see the new Top Level folder by the same name – and give them a try. 
    For more info on the audit reports, see the New Features guide. Many of the reports have a “look-back” window of 30 days. If you’re interested in keeping more history data and tracking over a broader time period, you could create a mini data mart or history tables with a little tweaking of these reports - and then automate the collection process. If you’re interested in getting some guidance or extending the use of these reports, feel free to reach out to the team at QU2@us.ibm.com!  


    Monday, September 19, 2016

    A New DB2 Web Query Redbook Coming!

    No matter where I have lived or where I am at the time, Fall has always been my favorite season of the year. The days are shorter but beautiful as the temperatures have cooled down from the dog days of summer, and the leaves on the trees turn amazing colors of orange, red and brown! That’s happening right now for those of us north of the equator!

    Fall also signals a transition back into work mode. The kids are back in school, vacation pictures put away, and we have a renewed energy that says it’s time to get to work.

    And that’s what the DB2 Web Query team is doing this September! I’m excited to announce that we are working hard on an update to the very popular IBM DB2 Web Query Redbook. You may know that IBM Redbooks are traditionally point in time publications with a lot of “how to” information. But that also means they are not necessarily updated. In the case of the DB2 Web Query Redbook, we’ve performed an update once already – in 2012. We are now at it again! The timing is perfect, as so much has been enhanced in the past few years.

    We’ve gathered our strong team of DB2 Web Query experts together in Rochester, Minnesota for 3 weeks of heads down work to update, create, and organize content; content that represents the latest product features, functions, and benefits. Our esteemed group of DB2 Web Query expert contributors: 

    Simona Pacchiarini in IBM Systems Lab Services flew all the way in from Milan, Italy

    Jim Bainbridge and Rob Bestgen are also part of IBM Systems Lab Services based in Rochester, Minnesota. Rob is also the product development manager for DB2 Web Query.

    Kevin Trisko, from the IBM Support team, works with DB2 Web Query customers day in and day out.

    Kathy Steinbrink is our lead developer for DB2 Web Query and we’re happy to steal her for this project.

    Mike Cain is providing guidance and contribution across the board, and we’d be lost without our project manager, Hernando Bedoya – Mr. Redbook!

    I can’t leave out our team from IBM China. Zhi Yu Zhe, Su Lin Lin, and Wang Yu Yu are working diligently on refreshing the fourteen chapters of tutorials from their home base in Beijing. 

    In the coming weeks I’ll be posting updates and more information about some of the deliverables and new functions such as: 

    • New auditing reports
    • New sample reports for IBM i work management
    • Delivery of Query/400 discovery and analysis tools and reports
    • The IBM PowerSC security compliance and monitoring solution
    • Leveraging DB2 for i 7.3 OLAP and Statistical capabilities

     And much more!

    So stay tuned and reach out to me at mackd AT us.ibm.com or on twitter @mckdrmoly if you have questions or need assistance!

    Friday, June 10, 2016

    Welcome to My DB2 Web Query for i Blog!

    The intent of the blog is to share illuminating information and guidance on aspects of the DB2 Web Query product set and use of DB2 for i for analytics. Who knows, I might even wander of into some musings about the challenges faced when you get the dreaded "you're not serious" comment when suggesting IBM i and DB2 for i for your BI/Analytics application platform!  Yes, that's exactly what I'm suggesting ! I'll also pull in my colleagues and friends that also have a wealth of expertise as guest bloggers from time to time as we develop more content here. 

    DB2 Web Query is the IBM i based Business Intelligence/Analytics product designed to integrate with the IBM i operating system and DB2 for i database. With it, you can start simply by modernizing your Query/400 and RPG reporting environment, start adding more compelling visualizations, or even evolve it into full blown data warehousing – all leveraging your current infrastructure as an IBM i user.

    While I work on building up some posts in the coming weeks – be sure to check out the links here on the right hand side to learn more about this product – that you most likely already own!