In the Wheelhouse: DB2 BLU Acceleration: Who Wants to Go Fast?

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This week, we're talking about big data processing with IBM's DB2 10.5 feature called BLU Acceleration. Also, RDi 9 gets released with Worklight Studio, which can help you build mobile applications to access IBM i data.


So Who Wants to Go Fast?

A couple of months ago, IBM announced a DB2 10.5 offering called BLU Acceleration. With customers looking to analyze, slice, dice, puree, and chop big data from social media all the way down to traditional ERP and CRM data sources, BLU ("Big data, Lightning fast, Ultra-easy") effectively optimizes DB2 for running large in-memory analytical jobs and drives down time to usable results at, according to IBM, the "speed of thought." On June 26, IBM announced via press release a number of vendor and customer testimonials about BLU Acceleration, emphasizing the business results they've seen with the product that's now generally available.


According to the press release, highlights of BLU Acceleration are:

  • Dynamic in-memory technology that loads terabytes of data in Random Access Memory, which streamlines query workloads even when data sets exceed the size of the memory.
  • "Actionable Compression," which allows analytics to be performed directly on compressed data without having to decompress it. Some customers have reported as much as 10 times storage space savings.
  • An innovative advance in database technology that allows DB2 to process both row-based and column-based tables simultaneously within the same system. This allows much faster analysis of vast amounts of data for faster decision-making.
  • The simplicity to allow clients access to blazing-fast analytics transparently to their applications, without the need to develop a separate layer of data modeling or time-consuming data warehouse tuning.
  • Integration with IBM Cognos Business Intelligence Dynamic Cubes to provide breakthrough speed and simplicity for reporting and analytics. Companies can analyze key facts and freely explore more information faster from multiple angles and perspectives to make more-informed decisions.
  • The ability to take advantage of both multi-core and single instruction multiple data (SIMD) features in IBM POWER and Intel x86 processors


This is built into DB2 10.5, not a separate product, which means the time it takes to get started is incredibly fast. So it offers in-memory processing, analysis of compressed data, and simultaneous processing of columnar or row-based tables. It's skipping data that isn't relevant and saving space by compressing data. Very cool stuff, but just how fast is it?


During a technology preview, IBM demonstrated that a 32-core system using BLU Acceleration could query a 10TB data set with 100 columns and 10 years of data with sub-second response time. "First we compress the data in the table by 10x resulting in a table that on disk is only 1TB in size. The query then only accesses 1 column so 1/100 of the columns in the table (1% - 10GB of 1TB). So using data skipping we can skip over 9 years and only look at 1 year (now 1GB of data). Now divide across 32 cores for the scan, each core processes only 32 MB of data. Scan will happen faster on encoded data (say 4x faster than traditional) as fast as 8MB of data on traditional system. Therefore, in the end each core is only processing 8MB of data which is no issue to get a sub-second response from."


References in the press release had similar results, with improvements ranging from 10 to 45 times that of pre-BLU results. That's frighteningly fast. It's a solution that just jams, and the principle is simple to understand, even for a guy like me who's not a database guru by any stretch of the imagination.


So...when is it coming to DB2 for i? That's the question of the hour now, isn't it? DB2 10.5 with BLU Acceleration is available on Windows, Linux (Red Hat and SUSE enterprise) on both x64 and Power Systems, AIX, HP-UX, and Solaris.


I've heard no direct confirmation that we'll see BLU Acceleration on DB2 for i just yet, but keep your ears and eyes open for this. The integration theme for these features are a nice match for IBM i. I'm reminded of a great scene from the movie Apollo 13, where actor Ed Harris says "I don't care about what anything was designed to do. I care about what it can do." While BLU Acceleration is designed for big data analytics, it would add tremendous value to reporting on standard DB2 for i transactional database data. Or better yet, leverage its strengths for IBM i transaction processing. More cores, more memory, and more disk arms all help performance, but if you're processing the data in a more intelligent, and yes, even a more elegant fashion, then you're getting your money's worth with the investment you've already bought and paid for.


I'm not a database expert, but I see these features on DB2 for i being a true game-changer in terms of breakneck speed database performance. We all have seen batch jobs that build data warehouses taking hours to run. Imagine cutting that time down to minutes or even seconds! The only hint of what's to come was at the BLU Accelerator launch this past April when Tim Vincent, the Chief Architect for DB2 for distributed platforms, hinted that they plan on extending it and also bringing it into new products. I'm going to reach out to Vincent to see if I can get some insight into what the future may or may not hold for us in the IBM i world.

IBM Worklight Gets IBM i Support in RDi 9

IBM recently released Rational Developer for i (RDi) 9 .0, which is the new branding of Rational Developer for Power Systems (RDP). Jon Paris and Susan Gantner did a great review of the product here so I'll let those folks do the talking about the nuances, updates, performance, and functionality of RDi 9. What I want to talk about is Worklight.


IBM Worklight is a mobile application framework for creating applications to run on smartphones, tablets, or any other mobile device. Worklight Studio 6.0 was part of this release of RDi, allowing customers to build mobile applications integrating with applications running on IBM i.


The Java-based IBM Worklight server, however, is not supported on IBM i. You need to tune up a Windows, Linux (System z or x86-64), or AIX server to run the Worklight Server and then connect to applications running on IBM i by way of JTOpen or SOAP. However, if you want to go play with it, the Worklight Studio client does have a built-in server for testing purposes.


With Worklight Studio support via RDi, one has to wonder: Will the server component be coming on IBM i eventually? It's certainly a possibility, but I have no knowledge of IBM's future plans for Worklight. As far as I can tell, the server component runs on a WebSphere Liberty Profile, which in turn runs on IBM i. Worklight was bought by IBM only last year, so it wasn't developed from scratch with IBM i in mind. Patience, grasshopper.


Either way, this is a step in the right direction as support for accessing IBM i data and applications has been added. Perhaps including the Worklight Studio is a precursor for more things to come, so continue to watch this space while we try to get a handle on the future of Worklight.