Additions To The Db2 Web Query Family
November 9, 2020 Alex Woodie
Change is in the air for Db2 Web Query, the primary business intelligence tool for IBM i environments from Big Blue. Earlier this year, IBM launched two new versions of the product, and this fall, IBM delivered version 2.3 of the product. Finally, there’s been a change of ownership of the third-party company behind the software.
Let’s start with the change in ownership. Last month, TIBCO Software announced its intent to acquire Information Builders, the privately held New York City business intelligence software company that Gerald Cohen founded way back in 1975. IBI’s primary product is WebFOCUS, which forms the basis for IBM’s Db2 Web Query product. And that means that TIBCO will now have a hand in shaping Db2 Web Query’s future.
We don’t expect there will be any changes with the OEM deal that has been in place for well over a decade, which benefits all parties involved, including IBI/TIBCO, IBM, and Db2 Web Query customers. TIBCO hasn’t historically been a major IBM i software developer, but it also hasn’t made a habit of killing products or angering customers that it obtains through acquisitions (and it has done a lot of acquisitions). We have an email into IBM’s corporate PR team, and will let you know if there’s any surprising developments on that front.
Next, let’s cover Db2 Web Query version 2.3, which IBM announced on October 6, along with the Technology Refreshes for IBM i versions 7.3 and 7.4.
With version 2.3, IBM has introduced a host of new functions in the core product. Among the most compelling is an “automatic insights” function that uses machine learning technology to surface insights to the business analyst.
Once data is loaded into Db2 Web Query, analysts will be presented with an “auto generate insights” button that, when pressed, will use machine learning technology to automatically spot trends and outliers in the data. A screen will pop up on the analyst’s desktop that shows correlations among data points, such as sales increasing as a function of discounts, as shown below:
Data preparation typically consumes (more than) its fair share of analyst’s time. With version 2.3, IBM is including a new data preparation facility that will simplify the creation of data transformation tasks. This feature is specifically designed to streamline the workflow for one-time extracts, according to IBM.
This release also boasts a new page designer, which IBM claims will bring a “highly visual and intuitive” process for creating charts and dashboards with Db2 Web Query.
There is also a new EZ-Report facility for quickly building a report and an associated “synonym” over a file or an SQL statement (synonyms, of course, are the representations of data that Db2 Web Query uses to create reports and dashboards). The October 6 announcement letter lists the new EZ-Report facility as a version 2.3 enhancement, but it actually was listed as an enhancement in PTF earlier this year in PTF Group 7.
Finally, IBM is updating the EZ Install Package, which is the IBM-recommended method for doing fresh installs Db2 Web Query and major release updates (just not for use with PTF Groups).
The third piece of news to cover are the new additions to the Db2 Web Query Family. In June, IBM added two new pieces to the Db2 Web Query puzzle, including the Scheduler Edition and the RunTime User Edition. These were added to the existing pieces, including Express Edition, Standard Edition, and the DataMigrator ETL Extension.
The new products were added to give users more options in how they work with Db2 Web Query and how they distribute reports generated by it, according to Doug Mack, who leads the analytics team at the Db2 for i Lab Services group (and is the defacto product lead for Db2 Web Query).
“Scheduler Edition adds the ability to schedule reports and dashboards to be run in batch mode and distributed in a variety of ways,” Mack writes in a June 23 post on his Db2 Web Query for i blog. “Consumers, or recipients of the reports, do not have to be licensed to Db2 Web Query and can be receiving the reports on any client (PC, tablet or other android or apple device with the no charge Db2 Web Query mobile apps).”
Meanwhile, the RunTime User Edition gives customers the option to expand the number of users who can sign into Db2 Web Query and run reports and dashboards, but not to edit or create them. Each core license for RunTime User Edition comes with two run-time group licenses, each of which can support thousands of actual IBM i users.
Scheduler Edition and RunTime User Edition are designed to be add-ons to Express Edition, which is the entry-level version of Db2 Web Query. Customers should only buy one or the other, Mack says. “If you need both scheduling function and concurrent run time group support, you should just upgrade into Standard Edition and get the other goodies too!” he writes.