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Thursday, September 6, 2012

On Becoming an Informix Tuning Genius

If Apple can promote a bunch of inexperienced college aged nerds to "Apple Genius" by giving them a couple of days of training and hanging a badge around their necks, why can't I create a cadre of "Informix Tuning Geniuses" by giving a class for, fully adult, experienced DBAs and by hanging a certificate on the attendee's wall?  The answer, of course, is "I can!" I just haven't called it that.  Until now.

I am often asked "How did you get to be so good at tuning Informix engines?"  When I hear questions like that my normal human modesty and my massive personal ego go to war.  Modesty wants to answer, softly, "Aw shucks, I just pay attention to what's going on is all."  Meanwhile, my admittedly huge ego wants to scream, "Yeah man. I am awesome!  You'd have to work hard for a long time to get where I am!"  Unfortunately for my ego, my modesty's take on the world far closer to the truth.  When I can hear myself over my ego's protests, I have to admit that I credit several things:
  1. Paying attention really is a big part of what I do, the hard part is what to pay attention to.  In general:
    1. RTFM - Yes, I really do Read The Fine Manuals and pay attention to what I read.
    2. Pay attention to other Informix users and users of other RDBMS products (yes Virginia, even Oracle users know a thing or two about managing a database system).
    3. Ask questions of IBM developers and support people, and pay attention to the answers.  Try to understand how Informix works so what I see in #2 below comes together.
  2. Look at the data that's available from the OS and from the server and dig down until everything makes sense. - More paying attention I guess - Hmm a theme is developing.
  3. Try things out.  Play.  We are Informix DBAs not Oracle DBAs.  We have time to try things out and test since we are not busy 24x7 keeping the damn server online.  Oh, and pay attention to the results.
  4. This was a journey that started for me with a single number on an onstat -p report (bufwaits) that didn't make sense.  I poked and analyzed and spoke to Informix developers until it did.  So, dogged determination is also a part of it.
Sometimes the questions I get are more like "How can I become as good as you?" or at least that's how my ego hears it. ;-)  Here I have a good answer.  It relates to 1.2 and 1.3 above.  Learn from others to kickstart your own journey.  For this I have a good solution, and yes it is a plug, or, actually, two plugs.

Plug #1:
Contract with me to perform a Comprehensive HealthCheck on your server's performance.  I can do that remotely, and that has its benefits, but if you have me come on-site to perform the HealthCheck in your facility, we can work on it together and I will show you what I do and how my thought processes go to pull out the information from the data and make the recommendations that I may make.

Plug #2:
At Advanced DataTools Corp. we run periodic classes including, specific to this discussion, the Advanced Informix Performance Tuning course.  Attending one of these courses you will learn from two of the best, myself and Lester Knutsen, how to tune your Informix server to scream through transactions by doing just that.  You will work hand-in-hand with Lester and me to tune two different database scenarios.  In one you will learn how to get 40 hours worth of data loading and reporting completed in under 5 minutes.  In the other you will tune an Informix instance that, by default, can only complete about 4,000 transactions per minute until it will rip through almost 60,000 transactions per minute.  Between test runs we will review the relevant portions of the Informix manuals and learn what is important to monitor and how to interpret what you are seeing in the data.

The next Advanced Performance Tuning course is scheduled for December 3-6 2012 in our Annandale, Virginia training facility.  But you don't have to travel all the way from Albuquerque or Mumbai to the US Capitol District, you can attend virtually over WebEx.  Currently about half of our typical class is comprised of remote attendees.  Class size is small.  We will only serve up to seven students at a time.  In addition, if you have three or more people from your company that you want to train, we can bring the course to you on your schedule and customizing it for your environment.

Final bit of plugging, here is the URL to ADTC's web site page that discusses out training offerings:

So, do you want to become an Informix Genius?  Apple Geniuses learn from each other once they get behind that counter and are hands-on.  If you are already an Informix DBA or a Developer/Jack-of-All-Informix, are you already behind the counter but you don't have the Genius Badge yet?  Learn from me.  Learn from Lester.  Give us a call or send us an email and we will schedule you into a course. 

1 comment:

  1. FYI, Lester tells me that the December class is filling up fast. Only three seats left! If you are thinking about joining us for that class, think faster!