Upping the Informix Ante: Advanced Data Tools

PS: Kindly note that this is a republished blogpost from Mastering Data Management

Upping the Informix Ante: Advanced Data Tools

A few weeks ago, when we spoke to IBM Champion for Informix Lester Knutsen, we realized that his company – Advanced Data Tools – is home to three Champions with a combined 82 years of Informix experience.

Cindy Lichtenauer has been working with Informix since she was at Southwestern Bell in 1988, and she also worked for Informix for 12 years. Art Kagel began his career as a developer and “found” Informix in 1983 when he was challenged to discover a new developmental environment and database. And Lester is a founding member of IIUG and one of our inaugural IBM Champions. Be sure to check out our full interview with Lester.

All three are very active in the International Informix Users Group (IIUG) – in fact, that’s how they met. So we talked to the trio about the value of user groups and the upcoming IIUG conference.

Lester’s user group experience dates to 1983. That’s when he attended his first user group meeting and came away with a “badly Xeroxed” copy of a program that became PC-Talk. But the people he met that night helped him overcome the bad handout and learn RS-232 communications, which inspired him to become a regular participant in user groups.

Each cites different reasons for investing time in IIUG. For Cindy, it’s about “making life-long connections and friends, and sharing knowledge and learning.” She found her last two jobs through IIUG contacts, and is active on the IIUG Conference planning committee.

Art sees access to IBM Informix executives and developers as a key reason to remain involved, as the group affects the direction of the product. “As individuals,” he explained, “we only have so much influence. As a group, we have power.” Through IIUG, Art says, users can help keep IBM focused on their needs while giving feedback on how well the software meets those needs. He also sees it as a way to “pay back” everything he gets from the community. “I type fast,” he joked when Lester noted how much time Art spends on the forums.

For Lester, IIUG’s value is in finding questions that he may not have considered otherwise. Sharing best practices and getting answers keeps him coming back for more. “You show up and participate… and you’ll find people faced with the same technical challenges you faced, who have solved them in interesting ways that you can learn from,” he explained.

All this learning comes together each April at the annual IIUG conference. As Stuart Litel told us recently, and Cindy confirmed, the conference has grown for 2012. Two new tracks will focus on development and how other IBM products work with Informix. In addition to the 80 planned sessions, full day tutorials and hands-on labs will give attendees plenty of knowledge and tools to take back to their work. This year’s registration is ahead of last year’s, with lots of new people planning to attend.

The team ups the ante on applying all that knowledge with their annual Fastest Informix DBA contest. Each year, about 30 attendees compete for bragging rights (and an iPad) to solve a real-world Informix problem. The contest has created quite the rivalry, and the time constraints – an hour to complete the challenge – keep it intense. Last year’s challenge sought who could get the most transactions in ten minutes on a 1000 user OLTP benchmark, using a very small machine.

Head to the IIUG Conference (April 22-25 in San Diego) to meet Art, Cindy and Lester and see if you have what it takes to be the Fastest Informix DBA. And listen to the podcast for more of our interview.

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