Database maintenance tasks are necessary but don't have to be tedious or excessively time-consuming if you have the right tools.
The storied strength of the IBM i in the area of database operations has been a strong selling point for the platform for years. Accordingly, paying attention to software tools that can help with database maintenance projects can be important to keeping that aspect of your business in optimum shape.
Traditionally, database management touches such areas as managing access to data (particularly on mobile devices), ensuring data integrity, maintaining replication and high availability services, and providing users with the most efficient and high-performance ways of extracting data needed to carry out business functions.
Here we'll survey the software tools currently available to help with database maintenance tasks. For information on deploying data-retrieval apps on mobile devices, see "Technology Focus: You Don't Need a PhD to Deploy on PDAs." For a look at products that assist with data security, please see "Technology Focus: System i Security Apps Offer a Multitude of Protections." And for information on auditing application and data access, please see "Technology Focus: Auditing and Compliance Solutions for IBN i." Data query tools and backup and recovery management options will be the subject of upcoming articles.
Database maintenance tasks cover a lot of ground, and many of them are time-consuming unless some automation tools are available. Tasks include reorganizing tables or indexes to improve performance, analyzing metadata about databases to optimize performance, rebuilding indexes to improve query performance, expanding and enhancing database structures and contents, and extending connections between databases on the same or different platforms. Some database products, such as DB2, include built-in utilities for handling these routine tasks. But there are a number of software products that can help ease the burden of DBAs and programmers assigned to database administrative activities.
Below is a summary of the database maintenance tools that are currently available and run under the IBM i OS. Please note that the brief descriptions here don't cover all the features each software product provides. You should consult the links provided for each product and contact the associated vendors for a more complete idea of what each product's capabilities include.
And as always when looking for products or services, be sure to check the MC Press Online Buyer's Guide.
Database Management Software for IBM i
Applied Logic Corporation
FEU is a database editor that lets users view and update database records without special programming, as well as perform specialized functions on databases such as restoring deleted records, exporting data to other platforms, and converting spooled files to a variety of formats (e.g., HTML, PDF, XML).
Centerfield's HomeRun suite provides a multifaceted set of database maintenance tools. Insure/INDEX suggests new database indexes requirements to improve query performance and optimizes existing indexes. Insure/ANALYSIS helps developers tune databases to achieve the best performance and availability. Insure/MONITOR alerts operators to database problems and lets them graphically view critical job metrics. Insure/RESOURCES audits query usage and helps IT personnel enforce policies governing database and system-resource use. Insure/SECURITY helps security officers intelligently apply traditional IBM i security to protect application data from accidental or malicious damage.
X-Analysis is a multifunctional application suite of application analysis tools that includes tools for investigation and reengineering of databases and related software. Among many other capabilities, X-Analysis lets developers diagram data flows, carry out impact analysis of data beginning with a single field or variable, trace data and program relationships, and document or graphically display those relationships.
Excel Program Inventions
Database Assistant automates processes needed to apply field changes to database files and RPG applications. By globally applying changes to DDS members and source files, this tool streamlines and shortens database maintenance projects.
EASY VIEW is a programmer utility that simplifies such processes as correcting database files, adding new records, changing existing records, viewing entries from journaled files, and debugging database applications. EASY VIEW also maintains an audit trail of all activities carried out by its users and can export records to column-delimited files that are accessible by any spreadsheet application.
Database Assistant helps developers streamline database maintenance projects such as adding or expanding database fields by automatically identifying and globally applying field changes to DDS source members and data files, as well as RPG source programs and display and printer files.
DB2 Connect Unlimited Edition for System i offers database management and development functions, enables database application development using a variety of high-level language frameworks and APIs, and enables query access to DB2 databases residing on multiple platforms or in multiple IBM i partitions. It also helps to extend server data to mobile devices and capture transactions executed on such devices.
DB2 for i is IBM's relational database management system designed for Power Systems. Its benefits include scalability, an open development environment that supports a variety of languages (e.g., RPG, Java) and frameworks, and autonomic computing features such as self-configuration, self-tuning, and self-healing.
Kisco Information Systems
QRYTool/400 is a utility that lets programmers analyze database queries and data libraries to troubleshoot problems, improve efficiency, identify change needs, and view query output files.
Quick File Utility/400 is a set of utilities for database activities that displays field names and values in files, updates database records individually or globally, analyzes record layouts, and shows all files related to a file currently in use.
Surveyor/400 helps both IT personnel and end users work with data, files, libraries, objects, and reports to modify data operations. Authorized users can add, modify, or delete database records; track database changes via audit logs; and automate data transfers and file export/import operations from PCs. Other functions include display of relationships between physical and logical files, display and change of data areas, and creation and testing of stored procedures.
ProData Computer Services
The DBU database utility lets users view and modify database records with a single command. Capabilities include search and replace using multiple search arguments, control of database relationships, documentation or alteration of fields and file layouts, and security and auditing based on user profiles.
DBUnifier simplifies creation of database maintenance and query programs by offering such features as validating fields and records, inserting user-defined exit programs at specific application exit points, and enabling creation of user-defined fields.
RDB Connect is a library of utilities that enables record-level access to remote data from RPG, COBOL, and CL programs. It provides connectivity to data in DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, and other databases.
Database Attender is a database management and archiving utility for Lotus Notes/Domino databases. The product offers help with infrastructure browsing, rule enforcement, information collection, document-retention activities, and maintaining control over database settings, usage, and growth.
Discovery Attender for Notes provides a universal search function across all Notes/Domino databases, including mail files, archives, journal files, customized applications, and text files in Windows environments. It can also provide de-duplication of email messages and application documents to simplify results sets.
TURNOVER for PDQ converts database data even while end users are currently accessing that data. This function simplifies data updates and conversions without having to take associated applications offline by journaling current user activity and applying it at a more convenient time in the database update process.