Monday, April 27, 2009

SAP and Teradata Announce Partnership

Today at the Teradata Universe event in Istanbul, SAP and Teradata announced a partnership to have the SAP Business Warehouse run on the Teradata database computer.

Henry Morris, the senior VP for worldwide software and services research at IDC, made this comment:

"CIOs committed to driving greater IT efficiency are seeking to consolidate IT investments across the enterprise. The integration of SAP NetWeaver BW and the Teradata database (optimized for enterprise data warehousing) with SAP
BusinessObjects business intelligence tools supports such a consolidation strategy. This is a significant development that will be welcomed, especially by the many large companies who are joint SAP-Teradata customers. They can now drive operational efficiencies by running their enterprise data warehouse and SAP NetWeaver BW on the same scalable Teradata platform."

After the BI market consolidation, nobody needed a crystal ball to see this coming. In the old order, SAP used databases from IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft. When these four companies all moved into the BI marketspace, they became competitors.

SAP needed an industry-strength database from a non-competitor and Teradata was the logical choice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Slow Demise of 4GLs

On a regular basis, web searchers come to my site looking for advice on how to eliminate legacy 4GL applications.

In the late-1970s, some innovative software vendors came out with "fourth-generation computer languages" with the goal of eliminating COBOL, the standard "3GL" of the day. Needless to say, these companies missed their marks.

Three decades later, COBOL is still alive and kicking. Funny thing is, so are some of the 4GLs.

At the time, it seemed pretty obvious that data processing professionals would love to reduce the complexity of building software applications. The 4GL vendors offered programmers the same capabilities as COBOL but in a more succinct and easy language. But COBOL coders gave the vendors the cold shoulder.

When you have a product nobody wants to buy, you become creative.

"Okay," these 4GL vendors said, "we understand that you want to stick with COBOL. But how about your business users? Users can't handle power tools like you can. Let's give them something safe and easy to use -- just imagine, they could build their own report programs and leave you alone!"

And so, companies all over the world started giving business users 4GL application development tools for DIY reporting purposes. In the 1980s and 1990s, many organizations researched and selected one of the three major 4GLs: RAMIS, FOCUS, and NOMAD.

Today, firms are trying to figure out how to clean up decades of unmanaged end-user 4GL application development. One of my clients estimated that rewriting the hundreds of 4GL libraries used by their business groups might cost over $4 million USD. Another was shocked to discover somebody had used what management considered to be just a reporting tool to develop a mission-critical shop-floor scheduling application.

In my career, I used 4GLs to write many critical applications that were downright difficult to replace. I am willing to bet that 80% of my American readers have seen consumer product goods coupons generated by one of my 4GL applications. Another easy bet is that almost all of the readers have drunk a brand of coffee whose purchasing, quality testing, blending, and inventory processes were managed by 4GL applications.

There are problems with these 4GL applications. First, they were most likely written by somebody who left the company years ago. The code is handed down from one poor soul to another until it becomes unsupportable. If the IT organization turned a blind eye to end-user 4GL development, no standard app dev methodologies were ever followed. To make matters worse, not a single college today teaches 4GL application development to its students.

But the major problem today is that business users still depend upon 4GL output.

If you are in this situation, I can help by providing software that can inventory and scan your 4GL applications, automatically analyze them for functionality, and even convert them to other BI products. A spreadsheet generated by the scanning process will give us the first step in planning a cost-effective 4GL elimination strategy.

If you are interested in learning how I can help you replace your 4GL, contact me at DLau....

About Me

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With over 20 years of industry experience, Doug Lautzenheiser has provided business intelligence services for well-known organizations such as Procter & Gamble, JPMorgan Chase, Omnicare, Wendy’s International, the State of Indiana, and the State of Oklahoma. ComputerWorld recognized one of Doug's projects with honors for innovative use of technology.  Doug is a featured blogger on BI software at Smart Data Collective.

With his broad knowledge of technologies, business processes, and industry best practices, Doug provides client value by performing strategic advisory services; leading tactical BI application development projects; and enabling dramatic reductions in time, cost, and risks through his unique automated BI consolidation application.

Doug has hands-on experience with a variety of enterprise applications. He is degreed summa cum laude in Information Systems from the University of Cincinnati. An experienced trainer and mentor, Doug has provided educational services to organizations such as National Semiconductor, Ford Motor Company, Northwest Airlines, Principal Financial Group, and Target Stores. Doug is the owner of Kencura Systems.

Talk to Doug before manually performing a large BI initiative. Doug will show you how other smart companies saved time and money by following proven methodologies and automating BI processes instead of letting somebody "wing it" with a manual approach.


B2B software vendor leadership. BI implementations, standardization, and consolidation; data warehousing; WebFOCUS; iWay; BI vendors (Cognos, SAP Business Objects/Crystal Reports, Microstrategy, Actuate, Hyperion/Brio, SAS, Tableau Software); ERP; and full SDLC.