In today's globalized environment, critical business systems need to be ready for action around the clock. Even a brief period of downtime can have a big impact on revenue and customer confidence. Furthermore, these systems need to deliver continuous availability alongside the ability to scale applications rapidly and reliably in response to evolving business needs.
IBM DB2 pureScale is a database solution designed to meet these critical challenges. It is based on integrated clustering technology that empowers businesses to maintain continuous availability and quickly adapt to opportunities through agile scalability and application transparency.
A fast and easy "up-and-running" experience
The power and scope of DB2 pureScale does not come at the expense of usability. DB2 pureScale was designed from the outset to ensure a fast and easy up-and-running experience. This was achieved through an integrated setup process that spans all required components, and by orchestrating this integrated setup across the cluster from a single point of control.
The integrated setup process enables the user to install and configure the following products in a seamless manner: IBM DB2 data server, IBM PowerHA pureScale server, IBM Tivoli System Automation for Multiplatforms, IBM Reliable Scalable Clustering Technology, and IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS). The user does not need to launch separate tools to install or configure any of these components of the DB2 pureScale solution - they are all integrated into a single, unified installer that simplifies the options and choices required of the user. Furthermore, this integrated installer is launched and managed from a single host computer that orchestrates the installation and configuration across all the host computers of the cluster. The user configures the installation settings for all hosts in one place rather than working through a repetitive, error-prone set of steps on each host in the cluster.
During the development process the pureScale User Experience team ran through several usability test scenarios with representative users to settle on a final design that introduced just two new screens relative to a standard DB2 installer. The first new screen captures user settings for the database storage disks that will be shared across the cluster. The second screen uses an intelligent algorithm to configure the cluster. It enables users to add hosts to the cluster, validates the added hosts, sets their configuration parameters, and then installs all the required software simultaneously from one system out to all members of the cluster. User-customizable settings for this second screen were moved to an advanced panel, out of sight of the average user.
In the video at the top of this article you can see how these two new screens contribute to the relative simplicity of the DB2 pureScale up-and-running experience. The overall installation process takes approximately 30 minutes on a four-host cluster.
Leveraging complexity analysis to quantify usability
One example of complexity analysis in action occurred when a proposal called for part of DB2 pureScale to be withdrawn from the integrated installation process and packaged separately. Complexity analysis was used to quickly evaluate and quantify the potential usability impact of implementing this proposal. The results showed the proposal would degrade usability considerably and would jeopardize achieving the usability goals. This analysis was shared with key stakeholders who immediately grasped the impact on the user experience and decided against proceeding with the proposal.
Empirical evaluation has demonstrated that the DB2 pureScale up-and-running experience resonates with users. For example, in usability tests of the final design, all the users indicated they would choose the DB2 pureScale graphical installer even if using a graphical installer was not typically their preferred installation method.
DB2 pureScale demonstrates how a middleware solution that combines several powerful technologies can deliver a fast and easy up-and-running experience through deep integration across product lines and through innovative designs and methodologies. For more information see the DB2 pureScale homepage.