DB2 Web Query Updates to Ship in August
June 2, 2009 Alex Woodie
The new DB2 Web Query enhancements–including an adapter that provides “occasional” access to the SQL Server database from the i OS business intelligence tool, and the capability to access and update DB2 Web Query reports from within Excel–won’t ship until August, IBM announced recently. The new capabilities were originally expected to be available by the end of June, back when the announcements were first made with Information Builders in February, but the timeline has apparently slipped.
DB2 Web Query is a special version of Information Builders’ WebFOCUS software that IBM announced in 2007. The Java-based software enables users to write queries for the DB2 for i (DB2/400) database and view the results in a Web browser. It’s designed primarily to be a more graphical and feature-rich replacement for IBM’s Query/400, which has been a reliable member of the i OS (OS/400) middleware stack for years.
In February, Information Builders and IBM announced pending updates to DB2 Web Query that give the products more hooks into the Microsoft BI environment. This included a new adapter allowing users to incorporate data stored in SQL Server into their DB2 Web Query reports, and a new Spreadsheet Client feature will allow users to embed their DB2 Web Query reports directly into Excel, and also to refresh the data from the spreadsheet.
According to IBM, the new features provide deeper integration with Microsoft products, “without forcing you to replicate data around a network or implement different components on multiple servers,” the company says in its April 28 announcement letter.
The new SQL Server Adapter will help turn DB2 Web Query into the single, go-to reporting tool for the enterprise, IBM says. While many i OS shops keep most of their data on DB2/400, they store data that’s slightly less critical (but still important) on SQL Server databases. By installing the SQL Server Adapter, users will be able to analyze data from DB2/400 (DB2 for i) and SQL Server databases using the same query definitions, and simplify the report distribution and dashboard creation process along the way.
The SQL Server Adapter will support SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005 databases; there’s no word on whether the software will support SQL Server 2007, which introduced 64-bit support. Users will also be able to access multiple SQL Server instances with a single adapter, IBM says; there’s no word on whether users can mix and match analysis of SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005 data. It is likely that IBM and Info Builders will develop support for additional databases in the future.
The new Spreadsheet Client will give users of DB2 Web Query another way to access data from DB2/400 (and SQL Server if they have the adapter noted in the previous paragraph). In addition to the dashboard, PDF, and Windows-based front-ends for DB2 Web Query, which work well for executives and power users, the new Spreadsheet Client will be ideal for accountants and other financial whizzes who spend a lot of time with their noses buried in Excel spreadsheets, according to IBM.
Specifically, the new Spreadsheet Client will allow users to build spreadsheet reports that get automatically refreshed with queries from DB2 Web Query–automatically, it’s worth adding, with no manual intervention required by users. Users will also be able to burst data into multiple worksheets, and refresh data in a server-based Excel application or template, according IBM. Data computations and totals are brought into Excel as native formulas, and you can add data filtering and style the output to further enhance the data within Excel, IBM says.
Users will also be able to create new queries against DB2/400 data with the new Spreadsheet Client, but only if they have named-user licenses and have the proper authorities to access the Report Assistant component of the base product. (Named user licenses are more expensive than the run-time user licenses that IBM created last year after listening to criticism that the product was too expensive.)
The Spreadsheet Client and SQL Server Adapter help round out a suite that already offered several options. Info Builders develops and sells several add-ons for DB2 Web Query, including: an 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 recently added a new Report Broker and a software development kit (SDK) to the DB2 Web Query lineup.
Pricing for the SQL Adapter ranges from $1,600 on a P05 box to $28,800 on a P60 box. Pricing for the Spreadsheet Client ranges from $400 on a P05 box to $12,000 on a P60 box. The new products will ship with DB2 Web Query V1R1M1 on August 21. For more information, see Software Announcement 209-090 and, be sure to check out IBM’s DB2 Web Query Web page for APARs associated with the new software.