Volume 9, Number 30 -- August 18, 2009

Data Control Issues Bring vLegaci QuickerApps to Market

Published: August 18, 2009

by Dan Burger

Without plans to control your data, your plans for controlling your business are going to suffer. Studies by consulting and analyst firms such as IDC and Strategic Research Corporation estimate that one half to three-quarters of corporate data is managed by users with little or no policy attuned to data quality or any kind of IT standards. This seems like an odd way to run a business when operations and decision-making processes are likely based on bad data.

The chances of data being bad certainly increase when a business has dozens, if not hundreds, of user-created databases scattered across many servers (typically Microsoft Access servers), and the risk increases as data management decreases. It's not only an issue of bad data, but also one of backup and recovery and possibly encryption of sensitive data when individual user databases are not maintained up to standards.

Gaining control of data that is on user managed databases and spreadsheets not on the main system is what led to the creation of a new connectivity and data management tool set designed for companies operating on the IBM i. It was announced last week from vLegaci and is available from its subsidiary called QuickerApps.

"There are all these users who are doing there own thing with data from the AS/400," says Steve Kilner, president of vLegaci. This is a large segment of data and processing that occurs that IT does not really address. Nobody is keeping track of this."

Kilner became involved with Intuit and its Web-based QuickBase product because it rounds up the data that is being accumulated by many individual users and monitors it in one place, which brings control to an otherwise out of control situation involving Microsoft Access servers, server management and licensing. It provides a better alternative and it does it without adding complexity.

"The QuickBase software is very user friendly," Kilner says. "And Intuit is a proven secure host of data. Thousands of QuickBooks and TurboTax users have their data in Intuit's data center. Intuit has invested heavily in security and failover systems. The QuickBase product comes with a lot of features for setting up different security roles for viewing data, entering data, or change data. Whoever sets up the database is then in control."

Using QuickBase means the users still have individual databases, but data quality can be improved by the functionality built into QuickerApps/400 and QuickerApps/DM. The DM product handles data management and the '400 product was made for downloading tables from the AS/400 into user databases. Because QuickBase provides the global fixture to the user databases, QuickerApps were built on top of QuickBase to take advantage of monitoring capabilities and be able to view tables in each database along with the capability to drill down to field level data.

"If you wanted to see every user field with an invoice number, for instance, all the databases could be searched. You could then compare and determine whether the data is accurate," Kilner says. "With that information, which is as far as the tool takes you at this point, you can inspect the data content to find invoice numbers or customer numbers or dates or whatever it is you are searching for."

This is a big step at the individual user database level, Kilner says, because statistics show that companies don't know what's in their user databases.

Finding the critical data in the user databases is the first step. Beyond that, data quality analyses can be done with other tools that are on the market. In enterprise databases, this step would be done with ETL tools.

It's a process of discovery to find all the data--particularly sensitive data like invoices and payment data--that exists in multiple user databases and spreadsheets. Kilner advises that companies follow up with processes that assure accuracy across all the databases and policies for handling the data that is consistent with company guidelines.

The QuickerApps/400 part of the toolset facilitates extraction of data from IBM i tables into QuickBase tables and also plays a role in controlling the spread of corporate data from IT systems into user-created databases.

"By increasing both data quality and ease-of-use for user-created data, a business can realize the benefits from end-user computing while minimizing the risks," said Kilner. "This new toolset makes importing IBM i data a single-step process, thereby reducing errors."

QuickerApps/400 and QuickerApps/DM are sold as a package and priced at $495 per site license.

Intuit provides the cloud-based architecture that handles security, backups, virus protection, and authentication, thereby removing that responsibility from the users, who also can forget about purchasing, installing, and managing servers and software licenses.

The QuickerApps subsidiary of vLegaci is an approved Intuit QuickBase Consultant that helps businesses implement and enhance QuickBase. It offers strategizing assistance for businesses discovering how to organize and monitor data as well as develop applications.


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