The Excitement of the IDUG North American Technical Conference – 2015


My favorite week of the year is the IDUG North American Technical Conference. It’s better than Christmas if you ask me. I get to see my DB2 family and learn all kinds of new stuff. I come away refreshed and inspired.

I always like to share my opinions and some tips for first-timers before the conference, along with some of my can’t-miss sessions.

Changes in 2015

There are some interesting changes this year. Instead of full-day seminars the day before the conference at an extra charge(of over $400), these seminars are spread across the conference and only involve a $50 materials fee. On the one hand, I like this approach, but on the other, they have to be good to justify missing an entire day or half-day worth of sessions.

The conference this year is four and a half days instead of the normal three and a half.

Certifications are again being offered at free and reduced rates this year, but are only being offered the middle three days of the conference. The hours on these three days are extended though, and it is nice to see early morning and evening options for timing – now if IBM would just make up some new LUW certifications for me – there’s so little I haven’t already taken! How about updates to the application developer and stored procedure developer exams? I’m looking forward to the next version release just so I can get my hands on some new certificaiton exams!

Several hands-on-labs are being offered this year – I’m interested to see the format and details of these, and hope I can fit one into my schedule to try it out.

Conference Information on the IDUG Website

Some conference information is available on the IDUG Website. The main page for the conference is:
There are a number of tabs and links there that can give good information there. If you want an overview, click on the Attendee tab. This gives you a overview of the conference week. Some good general information is also available in [a PDF Brochure] (


IDUG offers one free certification exam, and if you pass that one, you get one more for free. So if you’re planning on taking more than one, take the one you’re more sure of first. This is a great opportunity to take tests even if you’re not fully prepared – even the practice exams online are not free. Additional certification exams are just $25, a real bargain. Certification hours are a bit different this year:
Tuesday, May 5: 9:00 – 18:00
Wednesday, May 6: 7:00 – 18:00
Thursday, May 7: 7:00 – 20:00

The eligible exams are listed here:

Choosing Sessions

I am consistently frustrated with conferences – both hosted by IDUG and by IBM because they do not make it easy to identify or search on the session speaker. I like to start with my favorite speakers – to see if they have anything new for me or in some cases things that I may have seen before, but I’m a different person, so I might get something new out of a presentation. After looking at my favorite speakers, I then like to fill in with new speakers, interesting topics, and so on.

This year, I’m looking forward to sessions from Michael Kwok, Steve Rees, John Hornibrook, Paul Turpin, Dan Luksetich, Adam Storm, Matt Huras, and Michael Krafick. I see Chris Eaton on the schedule and am intrigued – his topic seems highly technical when most of what I’ve seen from him lately has been looking at Oracle compatability and competitive comparisons. And I’m also looking forward to some sessions from newer speakers – Pavan Kristipati, Ken Shaffer, and Saurabh Agrawal.

Laying Out Your Schedule Ahead of Time

I hear there will be a mobile app, but as of the time I’m writing this, it is not yet available. IDUG will send out an email to all registered attendees when the mobile app is available. You can still lay out your schedule ahead of time, though I have no idea if it will translate into the mobile app or not. It’s a bit hard to get to this year, but start by clicking on the “Registration” Tab.
From that screen, click on one of the blue “REGISTER” buttons. They look like this:
On that screen, click on “View Your Registration Details”:
Then click on “My Agenda”:
Once you’re in that screen, you have options to edit your agenda. For each time slot, you can see the available sessions and select one or more that you are interested in. I tend to start by adding every session for the 4 tracks I’m interested in to my agenda, then look at the descriptions and speakers one by one and remove the ones that are less interesting. I end up with a lot of double scheduled slots this way, but this also allows me to talk to others at the conference about the sessions I’m interested in and make last-minute decisions. I don’t know how it ends up this way, but there are some times where there are really three can’t miss sessions, and others where there doesn’t seem to be much going on.

From this screen, there are also options to print your agenda and search for sessions. I didn’t find the search to be working by keyword or speaker name, but it can help you search by session type or time/day.

Who Won’t Be There This Year

One of my favorite people on the planet, Melanie Stopfer, will not be at the conference this year. IDUG just won’t be the same without her. I’ve never been to a conference that Melanie wasn’t at.

Susan Visser, the queen of publishing and networking won’t be there either. One of my early years attending IDUG Susan took me around and introduced me to everyone. She heads up IBM publishing for Information Management, and is usually the one running the book table or booth wherever it is. She’s turned into a social media goddess. I always drop by to see her when I want to meet some new folks and get a dose of girl-power. I will miss her.

Dale McInnis presents awesome technical details on High Availability, and I have learned so much from him over the years. I love how his presentations change over time to give me more technical detail. His abstracts were not accepted this year. I’m sad to not be able to hear him speak at this conference! However, I will feel less bad if I don’t get a session approved one of these years – if Dale can be rejected, then I’m sure to be at some point.

My Top Picks

Dang, as usual, I want to go to two sessions in almost every time slot. I have to start by mentioning the two sessions I’m presenting:

  1. C13 – DB2 Basics: Writing SQL with Examples on DB2 10.5 System Views and Table FunctionsWed, May 06, 2015 (02:15 PM – 03:15 PM) – In the spirit of my DB2 Basics series on the blog, this starts at a very easy level. If you frequent Dan L presentations, you will be bored. But I also include several things that even experienced DBAs might not use much like Common Table Expressions. This session is designed for the physical DBAs who can do a redirected restore in their sleep, and even an explain, but haven’t had to write much SQL. The MON_GET monitoring interfaces require the ability to write SQL, and I share a bunch of SQL I find useful in administering DB2.
  2. D17 – Supporting WebSphere Commerce DB2 Databases in the Real World Including WCS 7 and DB2 10.5Thu, May 07, 2015 (01:00 PM – 02:00 PM) – This session is heavily focused on WebSphere Commerce and some of the details that DBAs supporting WebSphere Commerce databases need to know that are in the DBA realm or cross the line slightly to the application side of the line.

Other sessions I’m excited about, in date/time order:

  • C01 – Going BLU: How to Convert Existing Databases & Tables to BLU Acceleration – Matthias Nicola and Naresh Chainani
  • C02 – DB2 DPF: What a single partitioned DBA needs to know in 10 points – Pavan Kristipati
  • C03 – DB2 Cancun: A Technical Overview – Matt Huras
  • D04 – More Sage Advice: Invaluable DB2 LUW Performance Insights from Around the Globe – Scott Hayes
  • D05 – Performance “Worst Practices” for DB2 LUW – Steve Rees
  • F05 – Do You See What I See? The Secret Powers in the DB2 Administrative Routines and Views – Steve Mazer
  • D06 – Data Purge Algorithm – Efficiently Purge Terabytes of Data from the Database – Saurabh Agrawal
  • E06 – Hidden Gems: The Top 10 Most Under-utilized Functions in DB2 – Matthias Nicola and Jim Seeger (saw this at Insight – it’s excellent!)
  • D07 – Top Ten DB2 Explain Tips – John Hornibrook
  • I’m conflicted about which SIG to go to – SIG 1A- Fun with SQL or SIG 1C-DB2 BLU Acceleration
  • C12 – DB2 LUW Performance FAQs, volume 5 – Solving More Puzzles! – Steve Rees
  • D12 – Doing the Long Jump : How To Upgrade By 4 DB2 for LUW Versions In One Step – Philip Nelson
  • E15 – Configuration (Mis) Management – Deploying DDL changes – Ken Shaffer
  • C15 – Why the University of Toronto is feeling BLU – Faster, Smaller, and Simpler in Only a Few Hours! – Brenda Boshoff and Adam Storm. Brenda was my thread chair at the very first conference I ever spoke at, and Adam is just awesome.
  • E16 – BLU Insert, Update and Delete – An Insider’s Perspective – Adam Storm (wow, two sessions in a row!)
  • C16 – db2batch Tips and Tricks – Paul Turpin
  • SIG2C – LUW Mini Panel
  • D19 – Monitoring BLU Acceleration In Depth – David Kalmuk
  • E20 – DB2 10.5 New Features – A Query Optimizer Perspective – John Hornibrook
  • D21 – Getting Top Performance from DB2 pureScale – a Migration Guide – Steve Rees

Educational Seminars and Hands On Labs

The educational seminars are spread throughout the conference this year. the ones I find most interesting are:

  1. EDS4 – DB2 for LUW Top Gun Performance Highlights
  2. EDS6 – Advanced SQL Coding and Performance

I’ve also heard the certification workshop is good if you’re working on the exam it is targeted at. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the PD and Troubleshooting one – people who loved it and people who really didn’t.

I suspect some of the Hands-On labs will be similar to the ones at Insight – if so, HOL5 – OLTAP – The New Frontier of Database Workload Powered by DB2 with BLU Acceleration may be good. Too bad they didn’t take the HADR/TSA one from Insight – that one was awesome.


The LUW mini panel is usually one of my favorite sessions of the conference. Even if I don’t have questions, I love hearing the details the experts get into or avoid answering others’ questions. It’s a can’t-miss.

Evening Events

If you just go to sessions and keep to yourself, you’re missing half of the conference. I’m an introvert, and even I go to something every evening. The friends you make and the contacts are so valuable. There is usually a party thrown by IBM and one by CA. And there’s the Dine-Around

Dine Around

The Dine-around is a group dinner at some restaurant. You pay for your own meal. Each dine-around is “anchored” by two well-known speakers, and generally has about 20 attendees. This gives you an opportunity to speak in a more intimate environment with speakers and gives some structure for those new to the conference.

Dine around sign up will be put up on a bulletin board somewhere – IDUG should announce it in the general session.

I’ll be one of the hosts at one of the dine-arounds this year – I don’t yet know who I’ll be with or where we’ll be going.

Zero Weight Gain

It is easy to let go of good habits and revisit bad ones during IDUG. Do you have a fitness tracker? Join me on to compete with others to still meet your activity goals during the conference!


I am so looking forward to the IDUG conference! I also love to meet readers, so if you see me, come up and introduce yourself and we can chat. I’ll be in the Expo at the IDUG DB2 hub from 11:30 to 11:45 on Thursday, so come say hello then. Can I start packing yet?

Ember Crooks
Ember Crooks

Ember is always curious and thrives on change. She has built internationally recognized expertise in IBM Db2, spent a year working with high-volume MySQL, and is now learning Snowflake. Ember shares both posts about her core skill sets and her journey learning Snowflake.

Ember lives in Denver and work from home

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  1. Hi Ember,
    Very good information regarding IDUG NA, I will miss this conference as DB2 GOT TALENT 2015 results announced just before 20 days of the competition and VISA cannot be arranged in 20 days, Now for me 2 Golden opportunities left (Melbourne / Dublin). I will most probably choose Dublin and hoping you will also attend the same :).
    I am big fan of your blogs and really want to meet you at any of the IDUG conferences. Also for IDUG NA my best friend Saurabh is presenting for first time, He is very good speaker and talented individual.

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