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Planet DB2 is an aggregator of blogs about the IBM DB2 database server. We combine and republish posts by bloggers around the world. Email us to have your blog included.

 

January 29, 2015


Susan Visser

How to Learn DB2

A few weeks ago, I started a discussion in the DB2 Professional LinkedIn group that turned out to be quite popular.  Request to join the group so you can take part in this and other discussions.

 
My question:  When you were using DB2 for the first time, how did you go about learning how to use it? If you are already an expert, what learning path do you recommend to any newbies who you may meet?
 
This blog entry summarizes the responses.  The text in italics is a response from a group member to my question.  The normal text is from me to give additional information, including links, about the response.
 
 Essentially by installing it, supporting it and using it with the help of some very knowledgeable colleagues. Only once I'd been using it for some time did I go on a couple of courses to fill in some advanced gaps.
      
Here is the link to DB2 Express C which is free and allows developers to create database apps....http://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/db2/express-c/download.html
 
 I learnt by doing my certification starting with fundamentals and trying out what I was learning on a development environment as I was going thru each topic. Certification helped me to learn all the different aspects which I might have missed otherwise by learning only what is needed for the job. I feel it helped me to get a better understanding of DB2. 
 
I'm glad you mentioned certification. I helped many people earn a certification over my career at IBM and continue to encourage the students who work at IBM to pursue this path. Roger Sanders has made it easy for people to prepare for the exam with his study guides: http://www.amazon.ca/DB2-10-1-Fundamentals-Certification-Study/dp/1583473491 Although they are not free books, they are very valuable since they include sample questions along with answers. Read also Ember Crooks' blog about how to get certified: http://db2commerce.com/2013/11/26/ibm-db2-certification-why-it-is-worth-it/
 
 To learn something for the first time I think is a combination of things...Learning from those more experience, attending classes or webinars, starting slow but get experience by working with db2 ( on non production environments ) and reading about db2 I find more things out there also. All of these feel has helped me learn. 
 
I'm glad you mentioned webinars. I'm not sure if there is a product with more free education than DB2! IBM runs a regular Tech Talk series with very educational webinars, delivered by IBM experts: https://www.brighttalk.com/channel/7637 These webinars are recorded and can be watch anywhere, anytime. These are hosted on BrightTalk where IDUG also hosts presentations and recordings. And then there is our IBM Champion Scott Hayes who runs the very successful DB2Night Show Webinar. These are also free and recorded and include speakers from IBM, IDUG, and users of DB2: http://www.dbisoftware.com/db2nightshow/
 
Let's not forget the great free tool "DB2Demo" program to explore and learn DB2. up to version 10.5 features. (needs Express-C that also is free)
Have a look here:
 
I had forgotten about the DB2 Demo programs! Thanks for the reminder! Do others use these demos to help them learn how to do something on DB2?
Thanks to George Baklarz for the blog about these demos: http://ibmdatamanagement.co/2013/10/16/db2demo-updated-fordb2-10-5/
 
 I read Craig Mullin's 4 Inch book every night! 
 
I'm surprised that books weren't mentioned earlier! Craig Mullins has done a fabulous job at creating books that have and will teach thousands! Craig's latest books were published via IBM Press where you can often get good discounts: http://www.ibmpressbooks.com/authors/bio/88e03c0d-e88a-49a8-b121-50484f7b670b  If you are a member of IDUG, you can get a 45% discount on all IBM Press books.
 
 Even I learned it at my job. But to start with I had done the online courses on big data university named DB2 Essential Training 1&2. This course will definitely help to get the feel of DB2 so that we can move ahead with some certification books once this is done. 
 
Hands on training seems to be the most common answer! There are many courses on the bigdatauniversity.com site. I think more people should learn about the availability of these courses. They are free, but some are out of date. We're looking for people to update them... so if you're interested.... let me know. I use these courses to teach the students who join the DB2 team in the lab. There are exercises and tests to go along with the courses which help solidify the knowledge. There is also a series of free books that you can download and read: https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/wikis/home?lang=en#!/wiki/Big%20Data%20University/page/FREE%20eBooks
 
 Hmm, i learned at job through red books, online documentation and practice. It is worth also to look at free db2 bootcamps at you location and also join local idug group :) 
 
IBM Redbooks! What a great resource. You can download them anytime you like as many times as you like and can read them on your reading devices... or computers. One of the best options is that you can search the entire book. This will help you get to the right content as fast as you can. Here's where you can find the full set of data related IBM Redbooks: http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/portals/data
 
Be sure to be part of IBM developerWorks communities ! Yes, even as a DBA.
Years ago I thought that was 'only' for developers ...., so in my first DB2 years I lost much information that was around... It's name fooled me ...
For instance:  DB2 for Linux, UNIX, and Windows Best Practices  https://ibm.biz/Bdx2ew
 
Thanks for the links for some of the great content to be found on developerworks. Too bad the name is misleading, but I'm glad you found it and recommend it. About 70 new articles are published every year on devworks in a "how to" format. If you go the technical library link, you can search on any term / product name and find a related article: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/

The certification tutorial series that was published on this site is also very popular: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/offers/lp/db2cert/db2-cert610.html
 
Nice trainings available at Klaas Brant's "DB2 Symposium"
Coming up in march, is a new Online Webinar style ! 9 units of Advanced LUW topics ,120 minutes each. Pick one, or all nine.
 
I haven't personally attended one of Klaas' events, but would like to go to lovely Holland in the spring to attend: http://www.kbce.com/news/db2-symposium-2015-netherlands/
 
IDUG Tech Conferences is a must !
 
Several people mentioned conferences. The best choices seem to be IDUG, IBM Insight, and DB2 Symposium. There is a different approach to each, but the common thing is you'll find many experts and learners at the conferences. From a DB2 perspective, we encourage our experts in the lab and our experts who are partners to create presentations to help attendees learn. A special mention needs to go out to IDUG. I think for anyone who has ever attended has noticed what a friendly family-like community they have going. This year there is one in Philadelphia and another in Dublin. There are smaller versions of these conferences call RUGs or Regional User Groups.... check out idug.org for information.   Remember, if you attend an IDUG conference, then you're automatically a member.  There are benefits to being a member, so click the link, sign in, and explore.
 
 I had 3 months of shadowing a DB2 DBA at work, and then was thrown into the fire to fend for myself and expected to ask questions of the other DBAs on other projects as needed. I've always been a question-asker, so that worked for me. It was a bit scary at the time, but it sure was a good way to learn the basics. I'm pretty sure I wasn't a very good DBA the first couple of years - I didn't know most of the proactive and performance oriented stuff. To move to the next level, I took IBM training, discovering how much the instructor made a difference, and found mentors. After that, conferences were key, expanding my mind and helping me to expand myself, and find more varied mentors. Asking questions is key, and sharing what I learn now makes me learn even more and get all the connections and have the foundation to reason through how DB2 does things. I find I learn the most through writing something up to explain it to others - I delve into details I wouldn't otherwise. 
 
 I have to say that Ember makes a great point, I always find I clarify stuff better and learn a few things here and there when I'm trying to document stuff for other people. The downside is that I sometimes find something interesting and go off on a tangent experimenting before returning to what I was originally trying to do..
 
Jamie and Ember... teaching is one of the best ways to learn. Writing a book, blog entry, or a presentation will help you uncover a lot that you don't know. Researching to fill these gaps will strengthen your skills and help you become an expert. I'm sure Scott has many testimonials from the people who have taken part in the DB2's Got Talent Competition similar to this.  Ember has certainly taken her own advice.  Her blog series is one of the best available... and she helps others build their skills by allowing guest bloggers.  Check it out: http://db2commerce.com/
 
 Back in May of 1991 when I started, before DBM was called DB2, before the lab was in Toronto, before this thing the called the World Wide Web existed, there wasn't a whole lot of options, what you did was go to a class, go to a conference, or visit the lab.

Since those early days everything and anything seems to work for me. From reading articles, books, and attending conferences to writing articles, books, and presenting at conferences which really helped me organize my knowledge. A long time ago I would convert Red Books to Audio Book and listen to them while traveling.

But once you have been around two or three versions, keeping up is a whole lot easier. Mostly though I find learning by doing is the best practice. You might need a little help from Lord Google to get pointed in the right direction, but after that learning by example seems to work well for me. 
 
Since those early days everything and anything seems to work for me. From reading articles, books, and attending conferences to writing articles, books, and presenting at conferences which really helped me organize my knowledge. A long time ago I would convert Red Books to Audio Book and listen to them while traveling.
 
But once you have been around two or three versions, keeping up is a whole lot easier. Mostly though I find learning by doing is the best practice. You might need a little help from Lord Google to get pointed in the right direction, but after that learning by example seems to work well for me. 
 
Chris, your comment brought back fond memories. I was one of the people in the Toronto lab when the product moved from Austin to become DB2. A good portion of the development team is still the same as it was in 1991.

You made me laugh the way you mentioned google! Did you know that searching on google will bring you directly to the product documentation, now know as the Knowledge Center? http://www-01.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/SSEPGG/welcome
 
 My learning experience was through a combination of formal training and learning by doing. We had just purchased DB2 for MVS Version 1.3, and there were only two of us who had received any training, with neither of us having any past experience with databases. Certainly the learning by doing approach is the most rewarding, especially since formal education budgets are almost non-existent.
Redbooks and certification are both excellent learning tools. The DB2 redbooks are easily accessible at the IBM redbooks site by clicking on "Software" and then "Information Management."

In addition to the certification study guides, there are practice exams that you can take to help you prepare for certification. These practice exams are a fraction of the cost of actual exams and provide you with information on which focus areas you may need more study.
For interest to DB2 for z/OS application developers: there will be a DB2 11 for z/OS Application Developer certification exam available this year, date TBD. 
 
Redbooks and certification are both excellent learning tools. The DB2 redbooks are easily accessible at the IBM redbooks site by clicking on "Software" and then "Information Management."
In addition to the certification study guides, there are practice exams that you can take to help you prepare for certification. These practice exams are a fraction of the cost of actual exams and provide you with information on which focus areas you may need more study.
For interest to DB2 for z/OS application developers: there will be a DB2 11 for z/OS Application Developer certification exam available this year, date TBD. 
 
Glenn, you're right.. IBM offers great formal training. You can get a live instructor or take part in a class virtually.   Explore the in-person and virtual courses IBM has available here: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/education/  For the latest in certification exams, including samples tests, see ibm.com/certify.
 
 In my specific case, IBM trained me out of college. However with my learning style this included a SQL Class, DB2 Fundamentals Class, and a DB2 Administration Class. I also paired up with a mentor and tried to leech off her work for practical experience. I also lived out of my certification guide.

Now I would recommend the same thing. There is no substitute to immersion with hands-on-labs and a mentor. The problem is the certification guides have a tendency to lag behind new releases which make it tough.

There are things to compliment your learning like blogs and video online now. And something like IDUG and the seminars can greatly accelerate practical experience. 
 

Agreed!  With all the products and trial technologies on BlueMix, you have a personal sandbox to play in to explore.  I don't think there has ever been a better time for hands-on learning.. for free: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/bluemix/


 

I joined the DBA ranks from the application ranks and got thrown into the fire right away. I had a little training from the other developers who had started the DBA team. Otherwise, I have been almost 100% self-taught. I learned a lot from reading "Understanding DB2: Learning Visually with Examples". I also googled a lot. Read blogs like db2commerce.com (a staple for me everday). Reading the Knowledge Center documentation. And joining dba.stackexchange.com. Being one of the earliest DB2 DBAs on the site forced me to learn a lot about the product in order to help others with answering questions. Participating in DB2's Got Talent and networking with other great DB2 DBAs.
 
At some point, I would love to have more formal education to build on and deeping my knowledge of the product, even for everyday use. 
 
It sounds like many people learned DB2 the way you did! The book you mention was updated and is often available at a discount: http://www.ibmpressbooks.com/store/db2-essentials-understanding-db2-in-a-big-data-world-9780133461909

Hint: if you're a member of IDUG... log into idug.org and you'll find a coupon for all all IBM Press books... for 45% off.
 
Shout going out to Roger E Sanders for the certification books http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=DB2%20Roger%20Sanders Also on the job, IBM training, IDUG, DB2 Bootcamps and playing with it at home/blogging. If you want to install DB2 to play with check my blog entry.https://justdaveinfo.wordpress.com/2014/08/20/database-product-installation-faq
 
Roger Sanders is definitely a star of the community. Unfortunately he's not currently planning to write any more books, so he's working with other authors to continue what he started.  
 
 I initially learned DB2 basics from an instructor at my (then) employer. I then did lots of practice and self-study combined with reading on forums, subsequently passed couple of certifications. I spoke with experienced DBAs, asked lots of questions. Couple of years into the game, I started answering questions on forums and I learned a lot by doing so.

       


Recently, I started writing (blogging) and this forced me to research deep into the topic that I am writing about. IDUG has helped me as well. It has been a combination of curiosity, learning from others, reading and writing.
 
All really great advice!


 

 My first exposure was back in the late 80's when I had to compare and recommend between Supra, Oracle and DB2. It was my top choice and believe it still is for large enterprises. One of my first big recommendations. Back then learning was by reading the manuals and trying things out. World has changed. Always found the best source of learning was conferences and chatting with other experienced people. Courses are good to get the basics but I've seen too many people implement without understanding and this comes from experience. 
 

Social media has turned a lot of the chatting with experts to an online format.  This was true for the old style forums, but today your best places are in LinkedIN... there are many data specific groups for you to join and participate in.  The great thing about the groups on LinkedIN.... is that nearly everyone is using that platform.  Maybe not to the extent that they should, but they are using it.  So, you'll see a Database Expert Group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=45183&trk=anet_ug_hm) that has nearly 20,000 members.  For me, that's a way that I can reach people who are not yet fans of DB2... but who should be!

 
We also have our twitter ID where we give information, have discussions, and formalized chats.  I try to live tweet the webinars related to DB2, so you get see the top points discussed in the webinar.  Come and follow us on twitter and linkedIN, and join the conversation: https://twitter.com/IBM_DB2
 
This turned out to be a long post.  I hope you find it valuable.  
 
Thanks!!
 
Susan

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planetDB2 is an aggregator of blogs about the IBM DB2 database server. We combine and republish posts by bloggers around the world. Email us to have your blog included.
 

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