Mainframe Blog

Surviving or Thriving? – Automation may be the key to your future success

2 minute read
Phil Grainger

Automation has to be central to everyone’s management of Db2. Without automation, there is just far too much to do, in far too little time, by too few people. Come and join me for “Surviving or Thriving – Automation may be the key to your future success” at IDUG North America in Charlotte, NC (from June 2nd to 6th, 2019) which walks us through the history of automation and stresses why choosing the right automation strategy is key.

The Birth of Automation

In the early days of Db2, many of the housekeeping tasks (such as reorganisations and taking backups of the data) lent themselves to simplistic automation. This was purely a JCL generation exercise when DBAs began to realise that the JCL they were executing was significantly repetitive and lent itself to creation by automated routines.

At first, JCL was created statically and unconditionally, based on the object names found in the Db2 catalog. Writing a simple program to query the catalog and write out JCL was both trivial and a significant step forward. No longer would newly-created objects be inadvertently skipped, nor would dropped objects cause processes to fail – risks that are inherent in all statically created jobs.

The next step, mainly confined to generation of Reorg JCL, was to make the creation CONDITIONAL – based on other catalog values, such as the data disorganization statistics. In this way, reorgs could be created, scheduled and executed only when they were actually needed – and an object that did not need to be processed could be skipped. When considering reorgs as a tool to enhance performance, it is important to focus on where that delivers results, and not to waste time and resources where no improvement can be expected.

Pros and Cons

This simple automation took a considerable load off the shoulders of the DBAs, but as time went on it became more complex. As the number of objects increased and the selection criteria grew, it became clear that home-grown solutions were not sustainable. Maintaining the automation itself became a significant drain on staff time – just the opposite of what it was supposed to be doing.

Additionally, collecting the statistics needed to drive the conditional creation was not free. Statistics collection comes with costs (both CPU costs and application availability conflicts). These costs only continue to rise as Db2 tables/indexes become ever larger.

There was also the worry about the gap between generation of some JCL and its execution. This could range from a few minutes to the best part of a week. If a possible improvement has been identified, surely action should be taken immediately and not deferred to a later time.

A better solution was needed. Both to manage the execution (or not) of activities and the timeliness of those executions.

Back to the Future

So, please join me at session B01 at IDUG (on Monday June 3rd at 12:45pm, currently planned for the Carolina C room) and discover the automation advantages that can help turbocharge your digital transformation and help you to increase your business agility. You will leave armed with next steps for implementing a database automation strategy that will:

  • Help increase your business’ revenue and competitiveness
  • Ensure stability and cost optimization
  • Divert valuable staff time to more pressing needs, such as SQL statement tuning

Hope to see you there, but if you cannot attend IDUG, please visit to discover how BMCs Next Generation Technology utilities can assist with real-time automation.

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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About the author

Phil Grainger

Phil has 30 years experience of Db2, starting work long ago in 1987 with Db2 Version 1.2. Since then he has worked with all versions, including Db2 12.

From his beginnings as a Db2 DBA for one of the largest users of Db2 at that time in the UK, through his time at PLATINUM technology, his almost 10 years as Senior Principal Product Manager at CA and through to his current position with BMC Software, Phil has always been a keen supporter of user groups and is a regular speaker at both vendor sponsored and independent events. His work with IDUG includes being a past member of the European IDUG Planning Committee, an inductee into the IDUG Volunteer Hall of Fame and now Board Liaison for BMC Software

Phil has been honoured by IBM as an Analytics Champion from 2009 to 2017

Phil is now Lead Product Manager at BMC Software working in support of their Db2 tools portfolio

In addition, Phil is a regular contributor to the IDUG sponsored
Db2-L discussion list