Getting DB2 Help

5/18/07

 

It’s been a while since I wrote my last article, but here is the new one.  I know that you don’t hear me whining, but I’ve been really busy lately.  Whenever I post a new article, I spam the people in my contact list with that fact.  If you would also like to be notified, please send a note to dean@db2dean.com.  I promise to only send DB2 related spam and never to send hot stock tips or great deals on prescription medications.  Anyway, today I thought that I would talk about how to get help for DB2.  This includes answers to questions and troubleshooting problems. There are a variety of resources available including:

 

 

The trick is determining the fastest way to get the information that you need.  In this article, I will give you some pointers to the best time to use each of these resources. 

 

 

Specific Questions

 

In general, the more self-sufficient you are, the faster that you can find answers to your specific questions like, “What options are available for the backup command?”  The DB2 IT Specialists are a smart bunch, but each has his or her area of expertise and will typically have to research your answer and might be at a conference on the day you have a question.  This is why it is important to become familiar with the available manuals.  The title of each is pretty self explanatory.  So if, for example, you are trying to determine a good backup strategy, then you might want to read the “Data Availability Guide and Reference”.  The list of titles is relatively short and they are listed in the Technical Libraries by DB2 Version.  I recommend reading through the list to determine what is available.  The DB2 Technical Libraries can be found at:

 

DB2 V8 Technical Library

DB2 V9 Technical Library

 

Another good resource is the DB2 Information Center.  This is a web page where you can do searches.  There is one for each DB2 Version.  I am also amazed at how useful Google is in finding DB2 information and I frequently use it.  You know their famous URL, but here are the DB2 Information Center Links:

 

DB2 V8 Information Center

DB2 V9 Information Center

 

Of course if you want to further discuss what you read in a manual or web page, or can’t find what you are looking for, then contact your friendly IT Specialist.  This is where they really shine.  Do not let what I say here discourage you from contacting your IT Specialist whenever you want – I am just trying to provide some useful tips on getting you help the fastest way possible.

 

Another good resource for finding answers to specific questions is to open a Problem Management Record or PMR.  A PMR that is opened on the IBM web site is called an Electronic Service Request or ESR.  Many people think that PMRs and ESRs are only for problems, but you are paying for support and part of that support is Q&A support.  Please just be aware that the support crew is much better at answering specific questions than general ones.  Since PMRs/ESRs get routed to teams in areas with specific knowledge of the product, they can frequently answer questions faster than your IT Specialist.  When I was a customer I would frequently open ESRs to get questions answered.  I preferred ESRs to PMRs because I find it easier to provide very technical information by typing or pasting it into a web page rather than telling it to someone over the phone.  You can also attach supporting files to an ESR.  I found that I typically got very fast responses to my specific questions by opening an ESR.

 

 

General Questions

 

The manuals in the technical libraries listed above can often provide a great source of information on general topics if the manual for your topic exists such as reading the “Performance Guide” to determine how to get the best performance out of your database.  However, there are many times that it is difficult to find comprehensive information on a topic of interest.  For general questions such as “Can DB2 do this?” or “Where can I do more reading on that?” you should contact your IT Specialist. 

 

 

Non Critical Troubleshooting

 

I define non-critical problems as ones where I don’t need to provide an immediate fix to keep business going.  However, you can feel free to define it as you like.  For problems where you get an error code like “SQL0911N” the Message Reference is always the place to start.  It will not only tell you what the error means, but for many codes it will also tell you how to fix the problem.  There are so many codes that the Message Reference is broken into two volumes.  Volume 2 contains all error codes with the SQL prefix and all of the SQL State Codes.  Volume 1 contains all other codes like “DBI” or “CLI” prefixed messages.  The Message Reference volumes can be found in the technical libraries and are at:

 

Message Reference Vol. 1

Message Reference Vol. 2

 

I also like the results that I find by using Google to search on the error codes.  There are often useful suggestions that it will find that are not included in the Message Reference.  I have not had good luck searching the Information Centers on error codes.

 

For error codes for which you can’t find a good solution to or problems without error codes such as odd messages showing up in the db2diag.log file or other strange behavior, I really recommend opening an ESR and attaching the db2support output.  The db2support command is handy as it gathers all of your DB2 system information such a DB and DBM configurations along with diagnostic information including the contents of the db2dump directory and zips it up into one file.  Again, I prefer the ESR to the PMR because I can get all of the information to the analyst quickly and get the ball rolling on my problem while I go back to work. 

 

While we are on the topic, I want to caution you to watch your test system for things like “odd” stuff showing up in your db2diag.log file or trace files showing up in your db2dump directory or even instance crashes that are easy to fix by just starting the instance again.  DO NOT IGNORE THESE SYMPTIONS!  It is better to spend 15 minutes to gather the db2support information and upload it to an ESR than to spend hours in the middle of the night when the problem occurs again in production. By this I mean that it does not take long to get the problems into the hands of an IBM support analyst who can diagnose the problem.  It is always good to know what is causing these problems and to put fixes in place before potentially moving those problems into your production environment. 

 

 

Critical Troubleshooting

 

So you didn’t follow db2Dean’s advice and now you are getting called on a down production system that will not start.  Unless you really know what the problem is and how fix it, I highly recommend getting a severity 1 ESR opened immediately.  To get the fastest response, I recommend the following steps:

 

  1. Run the db2support command to gather and zip all of the important diagnostic information.
  2. Open an ESR and attach the support.zip file and include any other relevant information.  Also make sure to indicate a severity 1 problem.
  3. Call the IBM support number and ask to speak to someone about your ESR.  This ensures that someone is working on your problem and that they know that you have already provided the diagnostic information.
  4. Contact your friendly IT Specialist who can ensure that your problem is being address appropriately. Make sure that you include the PMR/ESR number in your note.

 

From hard experience I found that the above steps when followed in order provide the fastest results.  Gathering the diagnostic information and uploading it first gets the analyst working on your problem faster than calling first.  Of course, getting the system up is the most important item, but ask the support analyst to keep the ESR open even after the system is up to find the cause of the problem.  The last thing that you want is for the problem to occur again and you are just tempting Murphy’s law if you don’t get to the root of the problem and fix it.  This may take some time and the support analyst may request additional information about your system, but the effort is worthwhile.  If you get any pushback or you get the feeling that your problem is not being pursued adequately then contact your IT specialist with the PMR number and ask him to follow up.  We have ways of getting action on your behalf.  Even if you get your system started by just starting the instance again, you should open an ESR to get to the root of the problem for the reasons stated above.

 

 

Opening ESRs

 

ESRs are wonderful things, but before you can use them you must register with IBM Passport Advantage Online.  To enable the registration to occur you must know your customer number and who your Site Technical Contact is.  This is the person in your company designated by your company to IBM when the software was purchased as the person who allows access to the ESR system.  If you don’t know your customer number or your Site Technical Contact, then you can contact your IBM Software Sales Representative or IT Specialist to get it.  For instructions for how to register and open ESRs, please click here.

 

If you have additional ideas, please send them to me and I will include them here. 

 

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