NGS Bolsters IQ of BI with Link to Non-AS/400 Data
September 16, 2008 Alex Woodie
Does the i-based Power Systems server have what it takes to be a successful business intelligence (BI) platform? Some say it’s better suited for online transaction processing. But others, including BI software developer New Generation Software, argue it has all the attributes to excel at analytical workloads, too. To prove its point, NGS recently launched IQ Connexion, a new module of its flagship NGS-IQ suite that extracts data from other platforms, thereby making i the focal point of organizations’ BI efforts.
In recent years, Microsoft‘s SQL Server has emerged as a popular platform for small and mid sized organizations getting starting with BI projects. Whether or not they use Microsoft’s BI tooling–Reporting Services and Analysis Services–or third-party products, customers often cite the same benefits, including familiarity with Windows, relatively low cost (at least compared to the Business Objects, Cognos, Hyperions, and Microstrategys of the world), and the capability to run on cheap X64 iron.
Now, that conventional wisdom is starting to shift, at least for AS/400 shops. With IBM‘s launch earlier this year of the new Power Systems server, IBM is selling extremely powerful systems at a price-performance point that was previously only attainable with Wintel and Lintel systems. In other words, for $10,000, you can get a new Model 520 that’s well suited as an entry-level data warehouse, plus you don’t have to spend extra on an operating system, database, or management tools, because they’re included with the price (unlike Windows, Linux, and Unix systems).
And with NGS’ new IQ Connexion, you can outfit that Power Systems server to function as the BI hub for other platforms. The software is used to create a real-time connection to extract data from non AS/400 data stores, including MS SQL Server, Oracle 11i, IBM’s DB2 UDB, Sun‘s MySQL, and PostgreSQL, and load it onto the i OS system.
Once the data is in DB2/400, the IQ Connexion customer can use NGS-IQ to do everything they normally do, such as running queries and reports, viewing dashboards and spreadsheets, and creating OLAP models. The big difference is they’re reporting and analyzing data from all of their computer systems, not just their i OS (i5/OS and OS/400) programs.
Bernard Gough, CEO and president of NGS, sees IQ Connexion playing a key role in NGS data warehousing strategy. “More and more IBM i customers run business application software on multiple servers, operating systems, and databases,” he says. “With this ability to reach out to virtually any important database in the enterprise, a customer can use the IBM i and NGS-IQ as the hub for all its reporting and analysis needs.”
NGS predicts IQ Connexion will streamline customers’ data movement, often called extract, transform, and load (ETL). Since the software executes its SQL request to the target database at runtime–when the NGS-IQ query is executed–users won’t have to worry about preparing the non-AS/400 data for reporting or analysis before the report is run.
IQ Connexion is NGS-IQ’s first real-time link to non DB2/400 data. However, it’s not the suite’s only link to the outside (non AS/400) world. The company previously offered, and still offers, a feature called “transfer to host.” This feature only supports Microsoft Access tables, which makes sense in many cases, since Access supports many different standard PC file type. However, the need to use Access as a staging point is limiting in some ways.
NGS has taken security into consideration with IQ Connexion. Any user trying to access reports utilizing IQ Connexion must have a user profile that grants them access to the IQ Connexion product, to access the remote data store, and to run the NGS-IQ query.
Users interact with IQ Connexion through the standard NGS-IQ interfaces. The company allows users to execute queries from browser-based and 5250 user interfaces. It also offers Adobe Macromedia Flash-based dashboard interfaces (which has formed the foundation for its Decision Assist line of highly tailored BI offerings for specific applications and industries).
In the end, NGS sees customers utilizing IQ Connexion to increase the value of their i OS-based BI investments. “With today’s pricing and performance, the IBM i is a very competitive platform for BI, so we feel it is important to provide the tools to enable a customer to use the platform for that purpose,” a company spokesperson says. “For our current customers, having the ability to use the familiar NGS-IQ interface to reach out to these data sources is a big convenience.”
In other news, NGS unveiled a new bundle of pre-packaged BI capabilities for users of VAI‘s S2K ERP software for i5/OS. NGS Financial Performance for S2K is a collection of financial reporting and analytics software designed to help companies make the most of the S2K general ledger.
Financial Performance for S2K includes several components, including a Web portal, financial performance dashboards, multidimensional models, Excel spreadsheets, and PDF-based reports, all of which are built over a pre-built DB2/400-based data mart residing on the System i server.
Dashboards give users quick access to actionable data, such as current revenue, income, gross profit, selling expenses, operating income, and net income. Users can also track balances on a year-to-date basis, or see how actual spending tracks against the budget, by organization, account, or month.
Financial Performance for S2K is the third NGS product geared to VAI customers. The others include Real-Time for S2K, a set of management reports, dashboards, spreadsheets, and multi-dimensional models that work directly over the S2K database, and Decision Assist–Business Performance for S2K, an integrated group of analytics designed to help S2K customers more effectively mange their vendors, inventory, sales performance, and their own customers.
IQ Connexion is available now as a component of the NGS-IQ suite. Financial Performance for S2K is also available. Pricing was not disclosed for either product. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at www.ngsi.com.