Tuesday, January 26, 2010

IBI and IBM Partner for System z Data Warehousing

Today, Information Builders and IBM announced a new Business Intelligence partnership for data warehousing on the System z platform.  See the press release.

The new "Data Reporter for DB2" is a special WebFOCUS version specifically for System z DB2 data warehouses. 

Just a few years ago, IBI and IBM announced a similar partnership with the "DB2 Web Query" product -- a special WebFOCUS version made for System i data and intended to be a next-generation replacement for Query 400. 

This announcement raises some questions.  For example, if WebFOCUS supercedes Query 400 on the System i, is this same modernization message true for its mainframe peer Query Management Facility (QMF)?  A bigger question is, why didn't IBM just use its own BI product, Cognos, which also runs on the System z?

You can also read about this on Information Builders' website.


alex shikanov said...

It may be an elitist and jurassic comment, but I don't believe Cognos runs on MVS partition. Remember WebFOCUS data access engine is EDA server which can run as JCL on MVS. Cognos runs on zLinux, i.e. on zHardware only. Presumably as your engine is on the same platform as your data, it can work faster and be optimized to native methods.

Doug Lautzenheiser said...

Alex, I believe you are right about Cognos only running under zLinux.

Likewise, WebFOCUS can also run under zLinux. However, you can also implement WebFOCUS on the mainframe under Unix System Services or MVS (I think that Information Builders prefers USS over MVS).

Either Cognos or WebFOCUS running under zLinux should both be able to efficiently get to DB2 through HyperSockets. If IBM wanted a BI tool specifically for mainframe DB2, then why not Cognos?

If you need to access other mainframe data (for example, IMS, VSAM, tapes, GDGs, etc.), however, then Cognos is going to have a problem while WebFOCUS can utilize the iWay Software servers. From zLinux, Cognos will not have access mechanisms to get to legacy mainframe data. That is not a problem for WebFOCUS, which can reach out and access basically any data on any platform.

As you mentioned, if WebFOCUS is installed under USS/MVS, you can run the server with JCL or as a started task. You can also use JCL to call a stand-alone WebFOCUS server from a step in the batch stream.

alex shikanov said...

Doug: fair enough, good detail. I just attempted to ponder your question as to why IBI when IBM already has the whole InfoSphere. Long standing good partnership from the old EDA days? Bona-fide brotherhood of those who dig the big iron? Another impending BI consolidation? Hard to say, I hope someone from IBI and IBM speak up.

Gene Gauthier said...

I do not know the underlying business reason on the why WebFOCUS versus Cognos for this announcement. However it does not mean Cognos is not being positioned by IBM as a strategic tool for Business Intelligence on the mainframe.

But as to Cognos running on z/Linux being able to access legacy data sources on the MVS side (IMS, VSAM, flat files, etc) IBM does have inhouse technology to do this called Classic Federation. It allows for SQL based access to the legacy data sources and would allow Cognos to access those sources.

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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.