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February 26, 2008

Book Review: Understanding DB2

If you're looking for a book that presents a well-rounded overview of DB2 for LUW and you'd like to know what’s new in version 9 and 9.5, look no further. "Understanding DB2: Learning Visually with Examples" can serve as a training guide for a beginner, a DB2 certification preparation tool for an advancing professional or a reference guide for a database expert.

I like the flow of the chapters, starting with DB2's history and its evolving versions. The book then covers:

  • Installation and understanding the database environment and client configurations
  • Building database objects
  • Understanding SQL and pureXML
  • Application design considerations for concurrency
  • Locking and maintaining data
  • Backup and recovery
  • Using the DB2 process and memory models to understand performance considerations in tuning the database server
  • Problem diagnosis

The amount of information can be overwhelming, but the authors do a good job of explaining things and giving real examples of how it all works. You can see how things are done manually using line commands and then how you can do those same things with the GUI tools.

Here are some things I liked that I've not seen in other books:

  • Each chapter features a case study that gives you a real problem to solve. The authors then walk you through the problem using the information you just learned.
  • Each chapter features a summary that highlights what you just learned. Following the summaries are review questions that are designed to help you prepare for IBM certifications.
  • New DB2 V9 or V9.5 features are highlighted throughout (e.g., starting at V9 you can install multiple instances of DB2 running on Windows at different fix pack levels).

As I said, this book works not only as an DB2 introduction or certification tool, but also as a reference guide. Each chapter is independent, so if you're working on a backup and recovery plan, see Chapter 14 ("Developing Database Backup and Recovery Solutions"). If you're working with development and need to copy data from production to development or create several development instances, read Chapter 13 ("Maintaining Data"). Incidentally, I like the case study for maintaining data. You're asked to set up a DB2 instance on a Windows machine and get data from an AIX machine. The case study not only highlights the data concerns with setting up a new Windows development environment, it also addresses the performance issues. 

If you need to learn XML you'll love Chapter 10 ("Mastering the DB2 pureXML Support"). When XML Extenders was introduced in 2001, I presented on XML development at IDUG Asia Pacific. DB2 V9.5 is light years ahead of what was available in that first release, and the authors do a great job breaking down and showing very good examples of what and how to use SQL/XML and XQUERY.

This is a practical book for everyday use. If you'll be working with DB2 for LUW Version 9 or 9.5, you should have a copy on your desk. Next week I'll review another good book from IBM Press--"DB2 9 for Linux, Unix and Windows: DBA Guide, Reference and Exam Prep."