Raz-Lee Touts DB-Gate User Stories
September 28, 2016 Alex Woodie
What would you do if you were able to connect your DB2 for i database directly into another database, like SQL Server or Oracle 12c? That would probably open up all kinds of impactful use cases to support your business objectives without resorting to tiresome file transfers or expensive middleware. That’s exactly what Raz-Lee Security discovered customers were doing with its newly released database connector, called DB-Gate.
In today’s data-dominated world, one would think that big relational database vendors like IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft would have solved the data connectivity issue a long time ago. After all, relational databases are practically seen as legacy technology, what with all the development going on with NoSQL databases.
However, that would be an example of wishful thinking. Unless you’re willing to shell out big bucks for a real-time database-to-database connector like Oracle’s GoldGate or IBM’s DB2 Connect, you would be stuck with iffy connections enabled through ODBC and JDBC (the actually useful Type 4 JDBC connector notwithstanding). Thanks to slightly differing implementations of the Distributed Relational Database Architecture (DRDA) standard, data residing in DB2, SQL Server, MySQL, and Oracle 12c databases are essentially isolated. Only Big Blue’s three database amigos–DB2 for LUW, DB2 for i, DB2 for z–are fully compliant.
Back in 2012, the security-minded folks at Raz-Lee Security decided to develop an affordable solution to this pressing problem. The result was DB-Gate, which essentially enabled DB2 for i to serve as a client to update data residing in other RDBMSs.
“It positions the i on a level equal to all other operating systems as the hub for application-related data requests, ensuring the continued and increasing use of the i in the coming years,” Raz-Lee CEO Shmuel Zailer said at the time. “DB-Gate opens foreign databases and data sources to full access from the i, which, in the current world of heterogeneous data access and cloud access, is of ever-increasing importance.”
Raz-Lee shipped DB-Gate in 2014. Since then, the product has been adopted by dozens of IBM i shops. The Nanuet, New York-based company recently shared some of the successes that early adopters are having with Raz-Lee. While the company didn’t have permission to disclose the names of the customers, IT Jungle has verified the actual names of the companies involved with the implementations, and confirmed that they are IBM i shops.
The first use case shared by Raz-Lee involves the North American subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company in the plumbing- and heating-product industry. According to Raz-Lee, the company needed a way to share data between Oracle and an IBM i-based warehouse management system. The company was using Oracle Access Manager, but switched to Raz-Lee’s product.
“DB-Gate functions well on our IBM i with 64-bit JVM,” the company’s senior iSeries consultant told Raz-Lee’s vice president of development Eli Spitz. “The one thing that I always admire about DB-Gate is the support which customers receive and which is much better than even Oracle supplied when we worked with Oracle Access Manager.”
The second use case involves a large U.S. food manufacture that needed to move data between an IBM i-based ERP system and a Microsoft SQL Server database. Prior to DB-Gate, the company used file-transfer processes that were largely manual, but they were time consuming and inefficient.
The company’s IT director said DB-Gate is strategic to daily operations. “Our process-ordering capabilities have increased including the ability to validate order details,” the director told Raz-Lee’s Spitz. “DB-Gate is a very solid product which we highly recommend to others.”
The final DB-Gate testimonial comes from a Latin American bank that was moving large amounts of data from its IBM i-based banking system into a SQL Server database. The company was using Web services to move the data, but that approach could not keep up with the heavy workload, according to Raz-Lee.
“The beauty of . . . DB-Gate . . . is that we didn’t have to change any of our application programs,” the company’s vice president of processes and technology told Raz-Lee’s Spitz. “We simply built a single interface program in RPG, and all programs requiring the remote data call this new program which uses DB-Gate to connect to our SQL Server systems.”
DB-Gate is a Java-based product, but it’s not a JDBC connector. Instead, it enables DB2 for i data to be available to other databases. The product does this by exposing basic SQL commands on IBM i, such as STRSQL and STRQM, to the other databases.
The main benefit is this allows IBM i shops to continue to leverage the talents of their RPG programmers, rather than hire Java and C programmers to re-write IBM i-based applications on other platforms. “It will now be easy for an i shop to use existing RPG programmers to write applications, which previously required a C programmer to write on a different platform,” Zailer said in 2012.