Help/Systems Gives SEQUEL a Web Makeover
March 12, 2008 Alex Woodie
A business intelligence system can have access to hundreds of terabytes of data, but if a user can’t find what she needs in a timely manner, the system has failed. To speed the absorption of BI data, many companies today are turning to graphical dashboards, which boil large amounts of data down into easy-to-comprehend graphics. Last week, Help Systems announced it has joined the ranks of the Web-based graphical dashboard vendors with a new release of its SEQUEL Web Interface offering.
Help/Systems has been in the business intelligence business since it purchased Advanced Systems Concepts nearly a year and a half ago. The main driver of that deal was SEQUEL, a multi-faceted i5/OS application that offers a wide array of capabilities in the area of SQL automation and DB2/400 data manipulation (and which offers some support for Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and other databases, too).
SEQUEL is in use at thousands of System i sites around the world, and many of these users started with SEQUEL to replace their Query/400 environment and to simplify their report development. But as they got into the product, they learned about SEQUEL’s many other talents, including: generation of SEQUEL views, tables, and graphs; green-screen, Windows, and Web interfaces; graphical drag-and-drop report designers; electronic report distribution; online analytical processing (OLAP); a CL-like scripting environment; run-time prompts and other application elements; database cleansing and conversion functions; and many other handy features.
One SEQUEL option that has been popular with executives and managers is SEQUEL ViewPoint, which provides a Windows-based dashboard interface. With ViewPoint installed on their desktops, non-technical users can gain access to customized SEQUEL views, tables, and graphs, including drill-down capabilities.
If a user wanted this level of BI access from a Web browser, however, she would be out of luck. Her company could license the SEQUEL Web Interface to enable data access from Web browsers. But this product was limited primarily to a text-based tool that could only display a single report or graph at a time. Not exactly speedy.
That has changed with SEQUEL Web Interface 5.0, which Help/Systems launched last week. With SWI 5.0–Help/Systems’ first release of the product since it acquired ASC–users can now get the same types of graphical display and drill-down capabilities that were previously only available to desktop users through SEQUEL ViewPoint.
The new release lets users customize their interface to their liking. They are provided with four frames, which they can fill with their choice of graphical elements like pie charts and histograms, or text-based elements like query data and reports. Graphs can be moved around or enlarged or shrunk to fit the frame, or saved in various formats and printed or e-mailed to other users. Hyperlinks can be included in the frames, run-time prompts can be executed, and users even get the all important drill-down capability for their report data and placement.
“This basically gives you a dashboard-like capability in a browser,” says Tom Huntington, vice president of technical services for Help/Systems. However, unlike SEQUEL ViewPoint, there’s no software that needs to be installed on the PC (except the ubiquitous Web browser). “This technology is so easy to deploy, and allows you to execute all of your existing SEQUEL objects in a browser.”
Access to the SWI program is controlled through user IDs and passwords. And even if a SWI user is allowed onto the system, she will be prevented from accessing unauthorized regions of the server through the robust i5/OS security controls.
SWI 5.0 is available now. The software requires SEQUEL on the System i. Pricing ranges from $4,100 to $7,175. For more information, visit www.helpsystems.com.
This article has been updated. The pricing was updated to reflect the current price range.