ASC’s SEQUEL Database Tool Goes Multi-Platform
May 3, 2005 Alex Woodie
Imagine being able to manipulate and query iSeries, Unix, Linux, and Windows databases using the same tool, and to do so comfortably from an iSeries-centric environment. It may sound like a pipe dream, but it became a reality last week when Advanced Systems Concepts launched a new release of SEQUEL, its database query and analysis tool for the iSeries.
SEQUEL is a data access tool that provides a range of capabilities, not the least of which is replacing IBM‘s Query/400 software. In addition to running Query/400 objects, users can generate and distribute reports, build “executive dashboards,” drill down into data, and even cleanse data in preparation for building a data warehouse. All this can be done from SEQUEL’s Web, Windows, or greenscreen interfaces.
With SEQUEL version 8.5.122, ASC is providing these same capabilities for data residing on other popular relational database systems, not just DB2/400. Users can now perform nearly equivalent functions on DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and MySQL databases, and to do so from the ASC SEQUEL interface.
The new SEQUEL release turns the iSeries into an enterprise information hub, without requiring bandwidth- and processor-intensive data replication or transformation services between the various databases. SEQUEL users–who could be customer service representatives, salespeople, accountants, or executives–are provided with direct access to data residing in other databases, in real time. They can even drill down from summary data residing on one platform, such as Excel running a Windows workstation, into more detailed data residing on the back-end server, such as an iSeries.
“Having a single tool like SEQUEL that can be used across multiple databases and platforms is an obvious benefit,” says Rob Peterson, ASC’s director of marketing. “In addition, SEQUEL opens up the potential to use your iSeries as an enterprise-wide data server. As one of the most stable and secure systems available, the iSeries is well-suited for the role” as an access portal or a data repository.
Almost all of the functions SEQUEL users are used to using with the combination of SEQUEL and DB2/400 are available for SQL Server, Oracle, or MySQL databases, but not all. Peterson says the modified version of SQL used on the iSeries is the limiting factor here. But it is largely a wash. Depending on what you want to do with SQL, the DB2/400 version provides “more or less” capability than standard SQL does on other platforms, Peterson says.
SEQUEL gains its new cross-platform capability by generating SQL, that powerful and universal language for accessing databases. SQL statements are passed to the remote database server in one of three ways, including the standard SQL Call Level Interface (CLI), which is used for accessing other DB2/400 or DB2 databases or Distributed Relational Database Architecture (DRDA) data stores running on other IBM eServer platforms.
For connecting with Oracle, SQL Server, and MySQL databases, SEQUEL uses type 4 JDBC drivers. The JDBC type 4 driver is a high-speed database driver that converts JDBC calls directly into native database calls supported by each database vendor. ASC ships the type 4 JDBC drivers for these databases with SEQUEL; there are other sources of type 4 JDBC drivers for accessing other databases, such as Sybase ASE, and even for accessing Microsoft Access and Excel data, but ASC does not provide them. For accessing Access and Excel out-of-the-box, ASC recommends using FTP or direct client transfers.
ASC says that setting up remote database access using SEQUEL is easy and straightforward. Set up and testing of the remote connection is handled using the SEQUEL Host List view. Once this information is stored on the central iSeries, the connection paths are then available to all SEQUEL users. There is no need to set up or configure software on the client. The software supports contextual prompt assistance for the various databases, as well.
There are two ways users can buy a SEQUEL license. The unrestricted license starts at $9,500, and escalates depending on the iSeries software tier. User-based pricing, which is also dependent on software tiers, starts at $7,350 for a two-user license. The 5250 and Windows interfaces are provided with SEQUEL, while the Web interface costs an extra $4,100 per site, regardless of the size of the iSeries.
ASC, which is based in Schaumburg, Illinois, will be discussing the new multiplatform features of SEQUEL during a Web cast titled “Remote Database Access.” The one-hour Web cast is scheduled to start Thursday, May 5, at noon CST. For more information and to sign up for the Web cast, visit the company’s Web site at www.asc-iseries.com.