Super Fast Transaction Processing

IBM Data magazine congratulates the winners of the Fastest Informix DBA Contest 2013

More than 60 participants from all over the world gave it their best shot in the sixth-annual Fastest Informix DBA Contest that was announced in July 2013.* The challenge was to see how many transactions per minute could be achieved when combining online transaction processing (OLTP) with batch processing applications. The winning database administrator (DBA) would be the contestant who achieved the most transactions per minute in the OLTP benchmark and at the same time ran a batch billing job that generated the most bills in a 10-minute run.

The contest ended in September 2013, and the winners were announced during an October 15, 2013 webcast. Four DBAs in particular did outstanding work to take the top honors. The grand prizewinner used a batch billing job that required more than 11 hours to complete one billing cycle, but optimized it to run nine batch billing cycles in 10 minutes. At the same time, 1,000 business users were connected and running OLTP transactions using open source BenchmarkSQL, a Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) benchmarking program.

The contest winners

The grand prizewinner, Tien-Ming Cheng from Cape Town, South Africa, was the Fastest Informix DBA overall. In addition to taking top honors in the batch application, he was also the newest and youngest Informix DBA in the contest. Cheng leads the Informix DBA team at Reagola IT Consulting and Support Services in South Africa and works on optimization and maintenance of enterprise-scale IBM® Informix® systems. He started working with Informix only five years ago and has been instrumental in starting the Informix User Group in South Africa.

The next Fastest Informix DBA Contest honorary winner, Göran Carlsson from Göteborg, Sweden, has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg. Carlsson has been working with different Informix products since 1991, both as an administrator and a developer. He has used Informix systems—such as Informix Database Software (IDS), Informix 4GL, Informix ESQL/C, and Informix Genero—for the radiological information system (RIS) at the Chalmers University hospital, which is one of the largest in northern Europe.

Yunyao (Frank) Qu from Woodbridge, Virginia was the next Fastest Informix DBA Contest honorary winner. Qu achieved fast OLTP performance with 1,000 end-user sessions running a mix of transactions using BenchmarkSQL. As a developer and Informix DBA, he has been working on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Comprehensive Large Array-data Stewardship System (CLASS) project since 2001, and he is currently a database architect with Computer Sciences Corporation. Qu has also been a past honorary Fastest Informix DBA Contest winner.

Edcel Barcena from New South Wales, Australia did a great job to make it into the elite group of honorary Fastest Informix DBA Contest winners. Barcena started using Informix in 1998 as a 4GL developer and then later became a DBA. He is currently working at Select Software Solutions as a DBA and looking after the Informix instances used by billing and a customer relationship management (CRM) application.

Tien-Ming Cheng

Tien-Ming Cheng
Fastest Informix DBA Grand Prizewinner

Göran Carlsson

Yunyao (Frank) Qu

Edcel Barcena

Göran Carlsson

Yunyao (Frank) Qu

Edcel Barcena

Honorary Fastest Informix DBAs


The challenge

This year’s contest was very challenging. Because it was held online only through the Internet, participants did not get to see the machine running their jobs. They had to do all their performance tuning blind from supplied logs. Each contestant was allowed to submit entries up to three times. Contest moderators would run them and send back the logs from their runs for contestants to analyze and tune performance.

Following review of the winners’ code and performance, Mike Walker, senior database consultant at Advanced DataTools, wrote an excellent article that details how the contestants obtained their results.

Congratulations to the Fastest Informix DBA Contest 2013 winners. Please share any thoughts or questions in the comments.

*Putting Database Administrator Skills to the Test,” by Lester Knutsen, IBM Data magazine, July 2013.

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