Califon Systems Ships Database Analysis Tool
April 12, 2005 Alex Woodie
Califon Systems recently introduced a new database analysis tool that’s designed to help programmers and administrators discover how their applications are using data and business processes in preparation for regulatory compliance initiatives or new development projects. The new product, called Countermind, was written in Java, which the company says enables it to run against all the major database systems running on any Java-supported operating system, including DB2/400 on iSeries.
Although Countermind doesn’t fall into any neatly defined product category, the capabilities of the new product are a blend of an application discovery tool (such as the one developed by mainframe migration specialist BluePhoenix Solutions) and a cross-reference analysis tool, of which there are many for the OS/400 platform. For applications that do not have good documentation available, or in situations where the application’s developer has long since left town, this search capability can be useful for discovering details about an application that aren’t directly obvious.
The new product uses parsers to harvest a database for certain data types, and then loads this data into its metadata repository. Califon says Countermind can find and classify applications, database files, objects, jobs, data elements, and their relationships.
Once this data is in the repository, users can run various reports against the repository from the product’s Web-based interface. These reports help the users to highlight program and data dependencies, and therefore gain a greater understanding of how an application works. The software also provides a data dictionary that can help development groups agree on a single definition, type, and overall semantic meaning for the various data elements, and then help resolve any mismatches and build a single naming standard.
Califon’s vice president of sales, Steve Davis, gives this example of how Countermind can be used in the real world. “If you have numerous programs that deal with ‘customer,’ but in some programs the customer is referred to as ‘cust_no,’ and in others the customer is referred to as ‘customer_number,’ it not only finds all of these references, but can find any associated business rules/logic that are associated with ‘customer,'” he says.
The benefits to instilling a regimented approach to business processes documentation, include elimination of redundant work and cost savings, the company says. “The combination of unknown knowledge of existing controls, and the manual testing of newly defined controls, is costing corporations millions of unnecessary dollars every quarter,” the company says.
Countermind can be used in many different IT projects, including compliance initiatives for Sarbanes-Oxley and other new regulations, application migrations, application modernization projects, and in preparation for new software testing processes, Califon says.
Countermind is available with an enterprise wide license or a single server license. The single server license will likely be in the $20,000 range, the company said, while the enterprise wide license would be substantially more. For more information, go to www.califon-systems.com.