IBM Updates DB2 Web Query Business Intelligence Tool
July 28, 2008 Alex Woodie
IBM last week announced two additions to DB2 Web Query, the graphical business intelligence tool for generating and viewing reports and queries on the i operating system (formerly i5/OS). In September, IBM will deliver a new tool called Report Broker, which automatically distributes reports, and a new software development kit (SDK), which will enable customers and ISVs to integrate DB2 Web Query with existing applications.
DB2 Web Query is a special version of Information Builder‘s WebFOCUS software that IBM announced in March 2007 and delivered that September. The software, which enables users to write queries for the DB2 for i (DB2/400) database and view the results in a Web environment through the included Report Assistant, Graph Assistant, and Power Painter components, is intended to replace the green screen Query for iSeries (Query/400) product while providing an on-ramp to more sophisticated business intelligence projects such as online analytical processing (OLAP), data warehousing, and data mining.
In the first version of DB2 Web Query, IBM offered customers several optional add-on products. These included the OLAP Module for drill-down and multidimensional database reporting; Active Reports for accessing reports while disconnected from the server; and a Developer Workbench for creating more advanced reports and dashboards. IBM also added a “run time user enablement” option to the product earlier this year following complaints over its initial pricing structure, but that’s not really a product feature.
While these add-ons provide customers with useful functionality, one of the big gaps in the product’s lineup was an automated report distribution tool. IBM will rectify this with the delivery of the Report Broker add-on almost exactly a year following the initial availability of DB2 Web Query.
Report Broker, which ranges in price from $3,200 to $48,000 depending on the server’s software tier, will allow users to automatically e-mail, save, or print reports based on several criteria. Through the integrated graphical job scheduler, users can set DB2 Query Reports to run on a set schedule, with a daily, weekly, or monthly cycle; blackout days are also available to prevent the reports from being distributed. Alternatively, reports can be set to run based on a certain event, such the notification of end-of-day processing.
Report Broker also supports distribution lists, enabling users to quickly assign recipients of DB2 Web Query reports and define the format (PDF, XLS, HTML, PPT, XML, etc). It also supports a “burst” feature that lets users break big reports into smaller pieces that can be distributed separately based on the value of a sort field. For example, a regional sales report can be broken up and distributed to the various managers, each of whom receives only the portion of the report their work is associated with.
The new DB2 Web Query SDK is designed to help users integrate reports into existing applications, and for creating new applications that integrate with DB2 Web Query reports. Using the tool, customers and ISVs can embed reports–including text, dashboards, graphs, and charts–directly into their line of business applications. This is accomplished through a series of Web services interfaces that enable users to access and manipulate DB2 Web Query reports. Web services interfaces are available for the following actions: user authentication; working with report domains; retrieving report parameters and executing reports; checking for or executing report drill-downs; opening or retrieving a list of report domains; and working with Report Broker job scheduler (i.e. kicking off a distribution activity from an i OS application event).
External data can also be incorporated into applications built with the DB2 Web Query SDK, which costs $10,000 per server.
Both the SDK and the Report Broker ship September 19. For more information, view the United States Software Announcement 208-175, or visit the DB2 Web Query page at www-03.ibm.com/systems/i/software/db2/webquery/index.html.