IDUG NA 2015 : Lessons from a First Time Speaker

Finally, there it was, the most exciting and awaited week of the year. I got a chance to live my dream, to be at the International DB2 User Group Tech Conference (IDUG), Philadelphia. I must confess, Its not about being at a conference, its about the whole new experience with which I will live ever after”. Being a first time attendee and speaker, the blogs on IDUG experience from Ember Crooks (at db2commerce.com) and Pavan Kristipati (at db2talk.com) really helped me. Also, slide-decks from the past IDUG conferences served a good reference and a starting point. I reached out for tips to the people I admire from the DB2 Community – Mike Krafick, Ember Crooks and Pavan Kristipati. They happily extended their helping hand towards me and Mike actually reviewed my presentation and helped me to improve it. Thank you Mike! Here is a summary of tips that these experts offered – I hope it will be of help to the first time attendees and speakers.

Mike Krafick

  • Develop your own style and don’t be afraid to experiment
  • If you have the availability to present this to a local user group, friends at work, DB2Night Show, etc – try it
  • Break up slides with graphics and pictures. If you are comfortable with humor, work some in
  • Plan your sessions based on 3 things – speakers, what is required at work, to develop skill sets

Ember Crooks

  • Preparation to speak depends on your speaking style. Rehearse until you are comfortable and record yourself (if required) to see the body language and how you present as a whole
  • Deliver something of interest early in your presentation – if you start out with the more mundane, you may loose audience
  • If possible, watch another speaker in the room where you will be presenting and adjust yourself accordingly
  • Think ahead of time about how you want to handle questions. Do you want to take them as they come or save them for the end?

Pavan Kristipati

  • Talk slow and take it slower when introducing the topic as most of the audience do not know the topic except you
  • Remember, the audience at IDUG tends to be friendlier than what you could imagine, so relax
  • Take advantage of certifications, training and networking

My first day at IDUG started by running into Pavan Kristipati and Abhik Roy as soon as I stepped in and reached the registration desk. It was my pleasure meeting them and Pavan actually helped my IDUG badge with the “First time attendee” and “Speaker” add-ons which made it look better. Thanks Pavan!! Soon after my breakfast with Pavan and Abhik, I ran into the who’s who in DB2 – Scott Hayes, Ember Crooks, Mike Krafick, John Campbell and Ken Shaffer. I feel blessed to had been in the company of Mike, Ember, Pavan and Abhik throughout the conference. How often do you get a chance to party and have fun with these DB2 Gurus? I was thrilled when they invited me to dinner a couple of nights.

Later in the conference I got an opportunity to network with these wonderful DB2 people like Kshitij Kohli, Narasimham Pulugundla, Lenin Thandapani, Jayabarathi Chakrapani, Steeve Rees, Naresh Chainani, Prashant Sogarwal, Iqbal Goralwalla, Ian Bjorhovde, Matt Huras, Adam Storm, Walid Rjaibi, Martin Schlegel, Paul Turpin and many more.

Below are the technical activities that I participated in while at IDUG –

Day 1:

It started with the keynote session by Tim Vincent & Namik Hrle. Being a data science graduate student who is more focused towards big data, I was happy to see IBM’s initiatives towards big data and cloud. Specially, the brief talk and demo about IBM Watson stunned me. I was more focused on the DB2 BLU Acceleration throughout the conference and the session by Naresh Chainani and Matthias Nicola was a great place to be at. They talked about the power of DB2 BLU and how you can convert the existing database and tables to leverage BLU acceleration. Next, I attended a session by Pavan Kristipati who gave a good talk about DB2 DPF to make things simple for a single partitioned DBA. It was my first day of first IDUG, and I also moderated Pavan’s session. It was a good experience where I got a chance to briefly chat and connect with both, the audience and the speaker.

Then there were the 2 most exciting sessions of the day by Matt Huras and Scott Hayes. Matt gave a good technical overview of the DB2 Cancun release and Scott, as always, gave some excellent tips on index design and explained how they can help your database. I highly recommend everyone to look at his slides for those important queries which will make your life easy. Scott is one of those people I deeply admire and who helped me shape my career. I thanked him and shared how DB2’s Got Talent (where I stood 4th in 2014 season) changed my life and career. I also managed to click a picture with Scott.

Day 2:

It started with a session by Steve Rees on DB2 Performance practices. It was one of the best sessions that I attended at IDUG. Followed by Steve’s session was mine, and I was happy that Paul Turpin moderated it for me. I worked with Paul when I started my career as a DB2 DBA at ACI Payment Systems. I was a bit nervous before my session, but a high five by Mike and a bunch of IBM champions in the audience made my day. The positive feedback and encouraging words from Mike, Ember, Pavan, Ian and Paul made me feel that I did a good job on my presentation.

I then attended Abhik’s session on Netezza followed by Chris Eaton’s session on shadow tables. Chris explained the internals and dos and dont’s of shadow tables. If I remember correctly, it was Chris’ 50th IDUG presentation (Wow!!! what an achievement). I then participated in the DB2 BLU Special Interest Group (SIG) by Naresh and Matthias. I also got a chance to buy Paul and Pavan for a while to discuss the future of big data and information management. Pavan actually invited me to his room where we had a detailed discussion, and he is the one who actually motivated me to resume blogging and gave me some excellent career tips. He also offered me to write blogs along with him (it made me feel confident and I managed to impress myself).

Day 3:

Day 3 was dedicated to the DB2 Gurus and IBM Champions. I attended the sessions by Mike Krafick, Ember Crooks, Steve Rees and Walid Rjaibi. I must confess, I really look upto and learn from Mike’s presentation style and his slides. I heard him a couple of times when we competed together in the DB2’s Got Talent 2014, and love the way he blends humor with quality education in his presentations. I was happy when he indirectly mentioned me in his presentation. If you are participating in the DB’s Got Talent, check his slides for tips that may help you to win the contest. I got my basics right from Ember’s presentation on SQL. It covered DB2 SQL basics, but again, she presented it in a way that made it look simpler. These were the 2 sessions I always wanted to attend at IDUG and I am happy that I actuallly did that. Though I am not much into DB2 security, I enjoyed Walid Rjaibi’s presentation on DB2 security. He started from the basics and went into depths of data security. I also got myself some cool DB2 10.5 books at the IDUG exhibit hall, had dinner with Mike, Ember, Ian and Pavan, and bonded with DB2 community at the IBM networking event.

Day 4:

On day 4 of the conference I was more focused on the DB2 BLU acceleration hands-on training by IBM. I enjoyed trying DB2 BLU acceleration and observed a performance improvement of 80% on using it for the given test workload. I then attended the session on DB2 BLU internals by Adam Storm, and then took a deep dive into DB2 BLU with a session on adaptation guidelines and lessons learned at the Coca-Cola bottling company by Naresh Chainani. I also attended a session by James Cho on IBM’s cloud offerinng, dashDB. The perfect ending for the day was dine-around with Steve Rees and Adam Storm at the Cheesecake Factory. I enjoyed talking with Steve on his thoughts about big data and data management.

Day 5:

The last day of the conference, though short, was a good one. I attended some good sessions and learnt a lot. I learnt the DB2 BLU internals in depth from the DB2 guru, Matt Huras. It was an excellent presentation where he talked about the implementation details and best practices while adopting to DB2 BLU accelaration. I then attended a session on multi-temperature data management by Naresh Chainani who explained how data can be organised (on different types of storage medias) based on usage patterns to gain performance benefits. I then learnt the concept of filter factors from Joe Geller in the very last session at IDUG. Do check his slides.

Some interesting lessons I learnt while interacting with DB2 Gurus:

Mike Krafick

“Keep writing blogs even if they talk about the basic concepts. More basic the topic, wider is your audience.”

Scott Hayes

“The best part about presenting at IDUG is that it forces you to learn.”

John Campbell

“For the first 2 minutes or 90 seconds of your presentation, speak as slowly as you can, and no matter how slow you try to speak, you will still end up speaking fast.”

My favorite speakers at IDUG were – Steve Rees, Matt Huras, Mike Krafick and Naresh Chainani. I learnt a lot from their presentations. And the best friend I made (I look at him as my mentor) at IDUG – Pavan Kristipati. This was a quick overview of the conference proceedings, coming up next are technical blogs about the sessions I attended at IDUG.

I was sad that such an amazing week was coming to an end, but this is how life events are, with the happiness of having lived them comes a void and the question, “What’s next?” Well this time I have an answer, its “IDUG 2016”. I highly recommend everyone to attend IDUG (IDUG 2016 is in Austin, Texas) and if possible, participate as a speaker or at least as a moderator for the sessions. Again, its not about being at the conference, its about the whole new experience with which you will live ever after.

Some memories from the conference – image (1)

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