Configuration parameters play a crucial role in optimizing
the performance of an IBM Db2 database environment. By understanding the impact of these
parameters and tuning them appropriately, database administrators can fine-tune
the system to achieve optimal performance. In this blog post, we will explore key
configuration parameters and discuss recommended settings and tuning options.

The first thing to understand is that the actual parameters, their specific names, and how they are implemented and modified will differ between Db2 LUW and Db2 for z/OS. This blog post will talk mostly in generalities but the ideas resonate across all Db2 database management systems (and, indeed, even across other relational DBMS platforms).

The first type of parameters are used to configure Database Manager options. The database manager
configuration parameters govern the overall behavior of the Db2 instance.
Parameters such as database shared memory, lock list, and log buffer size have
a significant impact on performance. Adjusting the shared memory size to
accommodate the workload, appropriately sizing the lock list to handle
concurrent transactions, and setting an optimal log buffer size based on the
transaction rate are essential considerations.

Next we have the Buffer Pool parameters. Buffer pools act as a cache for frequently
accessed data pages, reducing disk I/O and improving query performance. The
size and configuration of buffer pools are critical for efficient memory
utilization. Allocating an appropriate amount of memory to buffer pools based
on workload characteristics and monitoring buffer pool hit ratios helps
optimize performance. 

Here are some crucial considerations for configuring Db2 for z/OS buffer pools:

  • Data Access Patterns: Understand the access patterns of your applications. Buffer pool configuration should align with the types of queries and transactions that are frequently executed. If your workload involves mostly random access, a larger buffer pool may be required. If it involves mostly sequential access, specific settings to favor sequential reads may be required.
  • Buffer Pool Sizing: Determine the appropriate size for each buffer pool. Consider the amount of available memory on your system, the size of the database objects, and the anticipated workload. Larger buffer pools can improve performance, but it’s essential to balance memory usage across other system components.
  • Multiple Buffer Pools: Db2 for z/OS allows you to create multiple buffer pools. Consider segregating data based on access patterns or table spaces. For example, you could use separate buffer pools for frequently accessed tables and indexes versus less frequently accessed ones.
  • Page Sizes: Db2 for z/OS supports various page sizes. Ensure that the buffer pool page size matches the page size of the objects being cached. Using the correct page size can reduce internal I/O operations and improve efficiency.
  • Thresholds and Actions: Set appropriate thresholds for buffer pool thresholds, such as the high water mark and low water mark. Define actions to be taken when these thresholds are crossed, such as dynamically adjusting the buffer pool size or issuing alerts.
  • Asynchronous I/O: Enable asynchronous I/O to allow Db2 to overlap I/O operations with processing. This can improve performance by reducing wait times caused by synchronous I/O operations.
  • Monitor and Analyze: Regularly monitor buffer pool performance using Db2’s monitoring tools. Analyze statistics and performance metrics to identify areas for improvement or potential issues.
  • Buffer Pool Replacement Policies: Understand and configure the buffer pool replacement policies (e.g., LRU, MRU, FIFO) based on your workload characteristics. Different policies prioritize different data pages for retention in the buffer pool.
  • Maintenance: Regularly review and adjust buffer pool configurations based on changing workloads, data growth, and hardware upgrades.

Also, Db2 for z/OS offers the following buffer pool tuning “knobs” that can be used to configure buffer pools to the type of processing they support:

  • DWQT (deferred write threshold) –  expressed as a percentage of the virtual buffer pool that might be occupied by unavailable pages. When this threshold is reached Db2 will start to schedule write I/Os to externalize data. The default is 30%, which may be too high for many shops.
  • VDWQT (vertical deferred write threshold) – basically the same as DWQT, but for individual data sets. The default is 10%, which once again is quite likely to be too high for many shops.
  • VPSEQT (sequential steal threshold) – expressed as a percentage of the buffer pool that can be occupied by sequentially accessed pages. Tune buffer pools for sequential access such as scans and sorting by modifying VPSEQT to a larger value. The default is 80%.
  • VPPSEQT (parallel sequential steal threshold) – the sequential steal threshold for parallel operations; the default value is 50%.

Additionally, adjusting parameters like page cleaning and prefetch size can further enhance buffer pool performance.

Remember that buffer pool configuration is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires a deep understanding of your specific workload, database design, and hardware capabilities. Regular monitoring and tuning are essential to maintain optimal performance over time.

There are other Memory settings that are nearly as critical as buffer pools, too. One example is the Db2 for z/OS EDM pool. EDM stands for Environmental Descriptor Manager. The EDM pool is used by Db2 to control programs as they execute. It will contain structures that house the access paths of the SQL statements for running programs. 

Actually, the EDM pool is a group that encompasses several other pools, all of which can be configured separately, including skeleton pools, DBD pool, sort pool, and RID pool. The RID pool is used by DB2 to sort RIDs (record identifiers) for List Prefetch, Multiple Index Access, and Hybrid Join access paths.  RID pool failures can cause performance degradation as alternate access paths are invoked, such as scans, and the CPU invested up to the point of the failure is wasted.

Db2 for z/OS also enables a Dynamic Statement Cache to be configured and tuned. It permits dynamic SQL prepare information to be cached in memory to optimize dynamic SQL. 

Another consideration to keep in mind is Query Parallelism, which refers to the ability
of Db2 to execute multiple query tasks concurrently, leveraging multiple CPU
cores. Enabling parallelism can significantly speed up query execution for
resource-intensive workloads. The degree of parallelism, controlled by parameters
like DFT_DEGREE and NUM_INIT_AGENTS, should be set based on the available
hardware resources and workload characteristics. Careful tuning of these
parameters ensures optimal parallel query execution without overloading the

Tuning Db2 Sort operations is also critical. During query execution sorting can
consume significant memory resources. The sort heap is responsible for
allocating memory for sort operations. Tuning the Db2 LUW SORTHEAP parameter to an
appropriate size based on the complexity of sort operations and available memory
helps avoid  excessive disk I/O and improves query performance. Regular
monitoring and adjustment of SORTHEAP ensure efficient memory utilization for
sort operations.

Statement Concentration is another configuration parameter to consider. It controls the consolidation of multiple SQL
statements into a single unit of work. Enabling statement concentration reduces
the overhead associated with parsing and optimizing individual statements,
improving overall performance. By setting appropriate values for parameters
like STMT_CONC and STMTHEAP, administrators can optimize statement
concentration based on the workload and resource availability.

Connection and Maximum settings are also crucial to consider. For example, in Db2 for z/OS MAXDBAT sets the maximum number of database agents and Db2 LUW uses MAXAPPLS to define the maximum number of concurrent application connections. And an example of a setting that can control maximums is DSMAX (Db2 for z/OS) that can be set between 1 and 200000; it controls the maximum number of underlying data sets that Db2 can have open at any point.

It is important to note that tuning these configuration
parameters should be done carefully and based on workload analysis and
performance monitoring. The optimal settings may vary depending on the specific
requirements and characteristics of the database environment. Regular
monitoring of performance metrics, workload patterns, and system behavior is
crucial to identify areas for tuning and ensure continued optimization.


In conclusion, configuration parameter tuning is a critical
aspect of optimizing the performance of an IBM Db2 database. By understanding
the impact of key parameters and adjusting them based on workload
characteristics, administrators can fine-tune the system for optimal

We have only taken a high-level look at several configuration considerations and parameters in this blog post. But keep in mind that the configuration parameters and their settings contribute
to an efficient and high-performing Db2 environment. Regular monitoring and
tuning of these parameters help achieve optimal performance and responsiveness
in the database system.