IBI Updates WebFOCUS BI Platform
June 16, 2009 Alex Woodie
Information Builders (IBI) unveiled a new release of WebFOCUS last week at its annual user conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The vendor says it has included more than 100 new features in the release, including a new predictive analytics and data mining module called RStat, and the capability to view activity such as cash register transactions in real time through a new module called Activity Monitor. This release also brought enhancements to the InfoAssist ad hoc reporting tool, and the Active PDF navigation tool.
WebFOCUS is a mature, Java-based business intelligence platform that runs natively on the IBM i OS (i5/OS) server platform, in addition to many other platforms. As you may know, IBM distributes a special version of WebFOCUS called DB2 Web Query as the result of an OEM agreement it formed with the New York City-based company a couple of years ago. The companies continue to work together in the development of the BI product platform, as is evident with the upcoming release of DB2 Web Query’s support for non-DB2/400 data sources, which is due out this August.
While DB2 Web Query continues along its development path, IBI continues adding new functionality to WebFOCUS, which may or may not make it into the DB2 Web Query product, as the two products are on separate development paths. With the latest release, version 7.6.9, IBI has delivered a plethora of new, mostly high-end business intelligence functionality aimed at giving the most sophisticated shops the quickest access to “actionable intelligence,” as industry likes to call it.
One of these higher end BI capabilities in the new release of WebFOCUS is RStat, a data modeling and data mining tool aimed at helping organizations predict what will happen. The software incorporates the 10 most common data-mining algorithms, which can solve 90 percent of the most common data mining requirements, the company says.
IBI’s RStat is based on the open source RStat data mining engine, and is delivered as a component of the Developer Studio. It supports all 300 data sources that WebFOCUS has access to, including DB2/400, RPG, 5250 sessions, and many of the leading i OS-based ERP platforms, like JD Edwards, Lawson, and VAI.
The vendor’s Active PDF functionality has also been enhanced with this release to allow users to navigate and filter large PDF reports containing hundreds of pages. And if users have both the Active PDF and WebFOCUS Enable for Adobe FLEX products installed, they can access PDF reports that are customized and contain interactive animations.
IBI has also enhanced the Info Assist technology that it first released in November. This ad hoc reporting tool gains new features, including Compose View, which combines query building and report building functionality, and Cube Browsing, which allows users to see a preview of queries run against relational or multi-dimensional databases.
The new Activity Monitor allows users to view and analyze data gathered from various parts of the business. Data is gathered via the hundreds of adapters referenced above, courtesy of IBI subsidiary, iWay Software, which builds connectors and adapters for a living. Once gathered in Activity Monitor’s in-memory database, the data is displayed in a dashboard using key performance indicators (KPIs).
There are numerous uses for WebFOCUS Activity Monitor. IBI suggests using it to monitor cash register transactions in real time. KPIs can then compare that real-time money flow against historic figures, which could be helpful for capacity planning projects. Alerting in the product can also help managers trouble shoot problems or detect anomalies.
IBI has also enhanced Magnify, a search engine available with WebFOCUS that builds indexes across structured and unstructured documents, and allows users to search through them. With the new release, users can specify their search to a specific part of an index. It also includes a new setup wizard that makes it easier to define how the product should transform records to search results. Security has also been bolstered, thanks to a new security API, the capability to hide search results, and support for single sign-on environments.
Gerry Cohen, the CEO of IBI, says the new release of WebFOCUS touches more facets of customers’ businesses than ever before. “These add-on components alleviate the need for customers to buy separate BI products, not only reducing license costs, but also making the entire BI environment easier to learn, upgrade, and maintain,” he says in a press release.
WebFOCUS version 7.6.9 is available now. More information can be found at www.informationbuilders.com.