Personal Reflections of a first-time IDUG attendee

As apprehensive as I was about presenting at my first ever IDUG conference, I envied myself the whole week as I was having so much fun.. I really did not want the conference to be over ! I went to Phoenix for IDUG as a clean slate without many expectations. What I learned and observed at IDUG blew my mind away !! People I met in these 5 days (May 11 – 16 2014) made a pleasant and memorable etch.

What I want to do in this Blog Post?

In this post, I will try sharing with you (yes.. you read ‘try’.. as I am doubtful if I can really give you the whole picture) how my first IDUG has been. It is like trying to describe Niagara Falls to a person who has never seen a giant waterfall.. It is not JUST a giant waterfall.. To give you a perspective, visiting Niagara Falls is not visiting / seeing a giant waterfall.. It is an experience.. It is something that you would want everyone to experience after “experiencing”it for the very first time and being in that “Maid of the Mist” boat is an unforgettable experience.

As I wait at the flight terminal gate at PHX airport for the clock to show me it is the boarding time now, my attempt in writing this blog entry is to self reflect my own experiences and to encourage others to consider attending IDUG in future (The one in 2015 will be in Philadelphia, PA).

1st day of the IDUG week:

My IDUG week started with running into my DB2 mentor Scott Hayes on a street on Sunday (May 10th) night and later meeting who’s who in DB2  — I am referring to the likes of Dan Luksetich, Martin Hubel. We met at a restaurant for dinner. It was a pleasure meeting all of them and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity and the time with them. Thank you Scott for inviting me over.

On Monday at IDUG conference, I ran into Ember Crooks and gathered enough courage to ask for a photograph. I consider myself as a mentee to Ember Crooks when it comes to technical blogging. Her journey in technical blogging on is a great source of inspiration for me. It was a pleasant surprise when she not only agreed for a selfie but also when she tweeted about it. Later in the day, I got a chance to meet the winner of DB2 Night Show 2014 (We call him DB2 GOD) Mike Krafick. I was in Ember and Mike’s back pockets through out the conference. I was so thrilled that they invited me to dinner couple of nights. I learned so many things just by observing these folks. Thank you Ember and Mike.

Later in the conference, I got an opportunity to meet so many wonderful people like Kohli, Susan Visser, Melanie Stopfer, Pavel Sustr, Rajib Sarkar, Abhik Roy, Ravi Durbha, Vijay Sitaram, Prashant Sogarwal, Ken Shaffer (his trip to India 15 years ago was so nice to hear about 🙂 ), Roland and many others. I had pictures taken with most of them. I will post pictures in a separate blog post.

Below are technical sessions that I was at and other technical related activities that I did:

Monday: May 12

DB2 LUW Problem Determination and Troubleshooting Workshop — Learned ways to dig through DB2’s FODC logs. Got high level understanding of how IBM DB2 support navigates through their way into diagnostic logs. This session was the most technical of all the sessions I have attended and some of the content was way above my comprehension levels. I will blog in future about what I learned out of these after doing few science experiments/projects in DB2.

Tuesday: May 13

After breakfast, I attended “DB2 and the Age of the Polyglot Persistence”. I enjoyed it. Later, I took IBM Certification 610 — IBM Certified Database Associated 10.1 Fundamentals and I passed

After lunch, I attended “DB2 Internals for Administrators: Updated for Latest Release: Parts 1 and 2” by Matt Huras (IBM). I learned few deep internals in DB2 and to fully understand the talk, I have to probably go through the notes multiple times.

At 3:15 pm, I attended “Getting Black and Blue with Blu-Leveraging DB2 on Commodity Hardware” by Randall Ibott. He shared his experiences and compared DPF  with Blue. This was an interesting talk.

Leo Pedron did a great job in this talk “Things I know That You probably should too”. I learned few deep and rare SQL tuning methodologies. His approach to the whole talk was very impressive.

Wednesday: May 14

After 7 AM breakfast networking event, I attended “Attack of the Blob !” by Michael Krafick. Mike is the latest DB2 Got Talent Winner 2014. He writes db2 blogs with utmost quality at Ember Crooks’  You will never have a dull moment around him! I learned few interesting points about BLOBS in his presentation. My knowledge on BLOBS is basic as I did not get a chance to work on them much. After attending Mike’s talk, I learned why BLOBS do not really fit into data pages, what to do to try to fit some of them in a data page, how to deal with file system caching when you work on BLOBS and in general about how to tame BLOBs. I am looking to dig further in his notes, experiment and implement techniques and ideas that I learned from Mike’s talk.

At 9:15 AM, it was a fun show by Scott Hayes. The topic was: “Sage Advice: 20 Invaluable DB2 LUW Performance Insights from Around the Globe”. There were so many tweets that went out of this talk. Scott took full advantage of Kohli’s well built muscles to demonstrate what to focus on while identifying bottlenecks in DB2 database performance. He had Kohli carry a 100 lb back pack back and forth in the room to drive home the fact that “weights” not properly tamed will slow database down. He also taught how to identify these ‘weights’ and what to do about them. We all had fun and great learning experience.

I then volunteered to ‘moderate’ Kshitij Kohli’s “Nifty Performance Tricks: Essentials for Success” at 10:30 AM. Kohli is a brand new IBM Information Management Champion and it was a pleasure being in his talk. We got a chance to meet before his talk. He is a smart, young, ambitious person with full of energy. In his talk, he covered a wide ground on a variety of performance related topics. I need to go study in detail about the tricks he mentioned. I am planning to work on implementing what Kohli shared in his talk and blog about them later. In particular, I liked his approach to indexing VARCHAR columns.

After lunch, I was focused on preparing for my talk “DB2 DPF Tips and Tricks: UNIX, SQL Scripts and More for Lazy DBAs” which was at 2:15 PM. It was a great experience to have the likes of Scott Hayes (who was the moderator for my talk !!), Ember Crooks, Mike Krafick, Kohli, Ken Shaffer and many other smart people in the room at my first ever IDUG talk.

After my talk, I then joined Ember, Mike and others for “Fun with SQL” at 3:30 PM. This was a fun-filled event. We got a chance to solve, as a team, few very specific business problems that moderators had come up with. The goal was to learn PL SQL. I found this Special Interest Group (SIG) to be quite helpful as I rarely write PL SQL. I would hope IDUG considers doing more of these types in future events. This event was mainly moderated by Dan Luksetich and Kurt Struyf who are one of the best SQL gurus.

At 4:45 PM, it was vendor exhibit reception time. I walked around and learned offerings from few companies. It was mainly a networking event from my perspective. I got a chance to shake hands with many smart people and learn from them.

Thursday: May 15

At 8 AM, I attended “Monetary Cost of SQL” by Mike Faltys. This was an awesome presentation and highly technical. Mike covered in depth on how he (along with Chris Godfrey from IBM) worked on monetizing SQL at PepsiCo. He elaborated on their approach in evaluating and choosing specific metrics at OS and database layers for their analysis. I missed out on multiple important points in his talk as I was not 100% focused in listening. The reason was it was my talk next !!

At 9:15 AM, I got a rare opportunity to share the stage with Scott Hayes for my 2nd talk at IDUG. The topic was “DB2 DPF Successes: Monitoring and Tuning a Hybrid IBM InfoSphere Warehouse”. We had decent good turn out and the talk went on smooth. During the same hour, Ember and Mike presented on “High Availability Two Step: HADR and Power-HA (HACMP)”. I was looking forward to learn from their experience by being in the audience but alas ! They promised me to answer any questions I would have in future. Thank you Ember and Mike !

At 11:30 AM, IDUG hosted all the speakers for a special feedback lunch. I had the privilege of being there. I got a chance to spend one hour with awesome people who have been coming to IDUG for more than 15 years! I was amazed to learn about the amount of work that volunteers put in year after year to make IDUG successful. I loved the fact that the Conference Planning Committee is so focused and involved in making sure everything at the conference goes smooth. My kudos to them.

After lunch, 1 – 2 PM, I had the privilege of ‘moderating’ Melanie Stopfer’s talk “Using Row and Column Access Controls (RCAC) with DB2 10.5”. As expected her talk was highly technical. I promised myself to learn from her notes when v v bcfggxcn  am ready to implement RCAC.

Later, “Top Five Cool Tricks with DB2 LUW” by Adam Storm was one of the most fun-filled topics in the entire conference. I am simply amazed by how Adam was able to pull it off with so much sense of humor. As Mike Kraffic tweeted, I want to be funny like Adam when I grow up. Kudos to you Adam Storm.

Later, I attended keynote speech by “Donald Feinberg” from Gartner and then DB2 LUW Panel. Both were definitely worth the time spent.

Friday: May 16

This was the last day of IDUG. It was sad to see such a fun-filled week coming to an end. My goals were very simple for this today. I wanted to crack both DBA and Advanced DBA certification exams before 12 noon as I had to leave to the airport to catch my flight. I managed to pass both these exams and now I am an “IBM Certified Advanced Database Administrator for DB2 10.1 LUW”.. wow!! I managed to impress myself.. yay !!

As I wrap up this blog post at 35000 feet on my SouthWest flight to my home, my sincere hope is that you would consider giving a serious thought about attending future IDUG conferences. If I can influence at least one person, my blog post is worth it. As the time passes by, the technical details that I learned in the conference will fade out of memory. However, the people I met at IDUG and the whole experience stays with me a long time. Now I wonder why I did not attend these events earlier?!! After all, they have been happening year after year since 1988.

Thanks for reading.


4 thoughts on “Personal Reflections of a first-time IDUG attendee

  1. Very nice summary Pavan! I’ve said for a long time that it is the personal connections that people make at an IDUG event that make all the difference and it sure seems like you made a lot of them. I hope to see you in Philly!

  2. Hello Mark — I appreciate you visiting and taking time to encourage me by posting a comment. Yes indeed.. I made lots of friends at IDUG. I look forward to seeing you in Philly next year.

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