NGS, Baseline Put BI and Reporting in the Cloud
April 16, 2013 Alex Woodie
How does business intelligence and reporting for $125 per user per month sound to you? That’s the starting price for a subscription to NGS-IQ Cloud, the new cloud-hosted business intelligence and reporting solution that New Generation Software and Baseline Data Services unveiled at the COMMON show in Austin, Texas, last week.
Intrepid Four Hundred Stuff readers noticed that NGS has been advertising NGS-IQ Cloud for several months. The company was trying to drum up some interest for the new offering ahead of its official launch this month at COMMON. The NGS-IQ Cloud is now up and running and accepting applications to join.
So, what is the NGS-IQ Cloud, and how do you know if it’s right for your IBM i shop?
The first question is easy to answer. The new offering starts with New Gen’s suite of business intelligence and reporting tools for the IBM i server, which includes the core NGS-IQ Server, the IQ-Client query and report development tool, pre-built dashboards, and Web- and Windows clients. New Gen’s software is a proven commodity in the industry, with thousands of installations at IBM i shops over the years.
The only difference between NGS-IQ Cloud and a regular NGS-IQ installation is that NGS-IQ Cloud installs on IBM i servers hosted in one of Baseline’s data centers in Indiana and South Carolina. Instead of providing your own IBM i environment, you use Baseline’s environment, and leave all the maintenance to Baseline, too. The offering also includes a copy of Maxava‘s data replication technology, called DataStream, for moving the data from customers’ production systems to NGS-IQ running with Baseline.
Answering the second question–how do you know if NGS-IQ Cloud is right for you–is a little more involved. NGS director of marketing Bill Langton has envisioned several circumstances where the software will be a good fit.
For starters, NGS-IQ Cloud gets the reporting and query workloads off the production IBM i system. “We definitely saw there are clients in this market who would like to have better analysis and reporting over their data,” he says. “But when you start talking about those Web and mobile capabilities coming right off their production box, some of them are very hesitant about that. This gives them a way to push the data that they need to over to a separate LPAR, and not have those users coming right into their production box.”
Plenty of IBM i shops over the years have adopted Windows-based query and reporting solutions. However, this is often a “quick and dirty” approach, and complicates matters by introducing another system to maintain and multiple modes of authentication to support. NGS-IQ Cloud may appeal to customers who might otherwise adopt a Windows-based solution, Langton says.
“We wanted to find a partner who could provide us with a secure data center with all the infrastructure that could also support us in an IBM i environment, so a customer could still have IBM i security, DB2, and the familiar environment they have in house, and be able to support their mobile and Web users in a way that they are isolating them from their production environment on premise,” he says.
While Baseline’s technicians handle the day-to-day tasks of monitoring, backups, and applying PTFs, NGS-IQ Cloud customers can still get their hands on a command line if needed. “In this environment, the customer can still administer their user’s data, just like they do on their in- house box. It just happens to be in Baseline’s data center,” Langton says. “Now certain things of course are restricted, like Security Officer authority. But they have a lot of control over what’s going on in their environment, which is really nice.”
The new offering lets customers build custom BI and reporting solutions, which is something that pre-packaged solutions just can’t deliver. “We’ve built packaged solutions, and what we find is no two people want the same thing. They all want their own customization of it, and it ends up being one- off,” Langton says. “One of the beauties of the IBM i environment is everybody has some kind of specially modified system that they are very happy with. The reason they’re running it is they’re convinced that it’s giving them a value that they couldn’t find in a package. So they all have their own reporting environments.”
The offering gives Baseline a chance to showcase what it can offer as a managed service provider (MSP) and one of a new class of private IBM i cloud vendors. According to Andrew Botzer, an account executive with Baseline, the company has banks and credit unions as customers, and therefore is extensively audited by a long list of regulators, including the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and other household names.
“We’re not your typical 100,000- square-foot rack data center that doesn’t have fire suppression, mobile power supplies, multiple Internet feeds, etc.,” Botzer says. “We have all those, plus our own redundant data centers.” The company operates two data center in Indianapolis, and has another one in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Baseline will also be hoping to parlay NGS-IQ Cloud business into additional disaster recovery (DR) and high availability (HA) business. The company recently signed a deal with Maxava to use its software to provide DR and HA as a cloud service.
As Baseline’s director of technical sales Bob Morici sees it, NGS-IQ Cloud gives customers a cloud-based backup that they can use for DR and HA, and “a side benefit is they can run NGS off that copy. That can become the input to NGS.”
The NGS-IQ Cloud offering starts at $125 per user per month for a private LPAR that contains 200 GB of DASD and 20 MGB of memory. As the customers’ query and reporting workloads increases in size, the pricing goes up accordingly. For more information, see www.baseline-data.com/ngs/ngs-iq-cloud.html.