Performance is Relative

This last week was very interesting in that I read a number of articles about databases other than DB2. It is always good to learn what the other vendors are up to. The first thing you learn is that fast and performance are a relative terms. Loading tens of millions of rows through ETL processes in hours has been done for many years with DB2 for z/OS and DB2 LUW but it is something new to some other database vendors or is considered “leading edge” for their environment.

Next, advanced data warehouses and business intelligence systems continue to grow providing performance issues for other database vendors. In recent white papers and performance studies IBM DB2 Cognos configurations have shown huge performance scalability capabilities against multi-terabyte data warehouses rolling out to hundreds and sometimes thousands of concurrent users. Other vendors are impressed referencing 100 million rows and having “potentially 500 users.”

Also the hardware, the number of processors, memory allocated and amount of disk storage, for some of these other vendor configurations is staggering. Some configurations have 48 processors with 4TB of disk storage for a bit over 1TB of data. This 4 to 1 ratio seems a bit over-allocated compared to the bare bones DB2 systems I have gotten to perform in the past. These other DBMS vendor configurations have sometimes 32-48GB of database memory for the processing. Again within the DB2 LUW systems that I have worked with over the years, not one has required this much memory allocated, and one of these DB2 LUW systems loaded over 200 million rows in under three hours.

So next time you read something that says “leading edge” or “performance is great” measure it against the proper scale. Ask those interesting questions about the number of processors, the disk storage needed, the memory allocated, hardware for test systems support, or the disaster recovery situation. Or you can just remember that DB2 for z/OS and DB2 LUW continue to provide excellent performance for the largest number of transactions around the world every single day and don’t need super charged hardware configurations to do it.

Please let me know what you see within your DB2 and non-DB2 hardware platforms. Does DB2 need more or less hardware as your other DBMSs?

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