Look around your office. Look around at your next DB2 users group, or conference. How many of your DB2 peers are under 40, how many are over 40? My guess is most are over 40, usually way over 40. My observation is that IT staffs in general follow the demographics of the country as a whole, but mainframe staff tends to be the older crowd. At a recent conference, the BMC booth giveaway was reading glasses. They went like hotcakes.
Industry publications warn of an impending retirement ‘wave’. On the mainframe, this may be more of a tsunami. Many current workers are retirement eligible, but waiting for a more favorable economy before leaving the workforce. There is a pent up retirement ‘demand’…..
‘National Association of State Chief Information Officers suggests that the sluggish economy of the past three years has delayed but not eliminated the expected exodus of aging IT workers from state government.’
The federal government estimates that nearly half of the 30,000 civilian IT workers eligible for retirement by 2014 might do so. In Connecticut, CIO Rock Regan says about 35% of his workers will be eligible to retire in the next few years. "There's not much I can do about it right now, but in the back of my mind I'm worried," he says. "If all those people retire, how are we going to keep the lights on?"
When a senior DBA or Sysprog retires, how can an organization react?
No backfill (suck it up). Depending on size of the remaining staff, this may be an option initially, but is not sustainable.
Replace with junior trainee. Challenges include filling the void of a 25-30 year veteran with a newbie with little or no mainframe DB2experience. Turnover does happen, but how do you impart decades of knowledge and experience in a document or a week or 2 sitting at the retirees desk?
Some constants: Data volume goes up, complexity goes up, DB2 releases march on, availability requirements go up, maintenance windows shrink.
The key question…. How do you bridge the experience gap, or fill in for loss of people?
One option is to move to technology that is more easily supported by the current workforce. Who will move it? How long will it take, who supports the systems in the meantime?
Another option is outsourcing. This pushes the problem to the outsourcer. Do outsourcers have a secret pool of young talent? I don’t think so. Outsourcers will lose experienced staff to retirements just like the rest of us.
A compelling option to bridge the gap is to fill it with BMC technology. More work with less staff cries out for tools. Let’s see how BMC DB2 products can step up to this challenge.
BMC has built several products based on an Advisor strategy. The idea is to take best practices, and ‘rules of thumb’, and build them into the products. The advisors have been called ‘DBA in a box’. Using Pool Advisor as an example, it monitors DB2 pool activity and recommends changes to sizes and thresholds. These adjustments can be set to happen automatically, without any staff intervention. This bridges the experience gap by putting the knowledge inside the product, and the loss of staff by the automation component. Other advisors include Reorg Advisor, Exception Advisor, Workload Index Advisor, and coming soon, Statistics Advisor.
SQL tuning typically requires experience and lots of time. One of the most significant losses when a senior DBA retires is the loss of SQL tuning experience. Apptune presents performance data in a descending sort based on elapsed time in DB2. The result is that the items that need attention appear at the top of the reports, saving discovery time. Once statements are identified, a number of tuning options become available, including common explain, object analysis, ‘what if’ scenarios, and detailed recommendations.
Less staff and less experience means less time to spend maintaining and running utilities. In addition to reduced CPU and elapsed time, BMC Utilities contain many ease of use features that make them a good match for thin staffs with loss of expertise. Copy Plus supports wildcarding, making them self maintaining. Copy Plus also creates a GDG base for new objects without intervention. All utilities have dynamic allocation, and an analyze phase to right size datasets. All utilities are easily restartable.
Database changes happen even after your DBA has retired. If we assume a newbie DBA, how can Change Manager help? The Specification interface guides the user through edits of any object type. In some cases, task oriented panels can be navigated to do certain conversions…. An example would be converting from Index Controlled, to Table Controlled partitioning. After specification, the Analysis engine is a new DBA’s best friend. Analysis will validate the change against DB2 rules, and create the DDL, Utilities, and Commands to carry out the change. Change Manager Compare will save time propagating changes to other environments. Batch only Change Manager processes can automate the task of migrating data between environments.
Who will do the Reorgs after your DBA retires? DASD Manager will automate the entire process. A one time set up will gather stats, evaluate them against thresholds, and generate Reorgs.
One of the most difficult DBA skills to pass on to the next generation is recovery. Every recovery is unique, and experience is valuable. Recovery is a difficult skill to practice. The Recovery Management for DB2 Solution contains a number of features and automation to help bridge the skills gap from grizzled veteran to newbie. Application groups can be built by application, and be ready for any type of recovery. Timestamp recovery eliminates the need to find valid recovery points. Recover Plus’ BACKOUT feature speeds many recoveries. BACKOUT AUTO automates the process to select the best strategy. If some indexes are copied, Recover Plus automatically recovers indexes with copies, and rebuilds them if there is no copy. Recovery Simulation allows recovery practice without writing over the target spaces. Recovery Manager’s DR prep creates the entire set of jobs required to bring up DB2 at a DR site.
Due out in March is the BMC GUI interface. Directed at developers, it is also a good starting tool for the younger Nintendo DBAs. Basic catalog navigation and reporting are part of the base offering.
BMC tools are a value in any DB2 installation. In anticipation of many of our experienced DBA and SYSTEM programmers off to walk our beaches with metal detectors, the automation and intelligence built into the BMC DB2 Products will be more valuable than ever.