Rocket Software Supports IBM i with New Data Intelligence Offering
June 21, 2023 Alex Woodie
You’ve probably seen it before: Two departments in the same company have different numbers in their BI reports, when the numbers should be the same. Tracking down these data discrepancies can be very difficult, especially when they touch systems like IBM i or System z mainframes. But with a new release of its Data Intelligence offering, Rocket Software thinks it has found a simpler way.
Rocket Software has been selling its Data Intelligence product since it obtained it with its ASG Technologies acquisition back in 2021. The software was designed to help organizations track down data problems that surface as data flows from transactional systems and databases through ETL tools and data warehouses and ultimately into BI tools and dashboards.
In the previous release, it would take an expert to be able to read the data lineage diagrams generated by the tool, says Chris Wey, president of Rocket’s Data Modernization group. But with the latest update, the company is enabling just about any user to track down data problems through a more intuitive graphical user interface.
According to Wey, the new GUI, which is called Data Intelligence Explorer, helps users by enabling them to zoom in and out of the data flow diagram. They can zoom in to see details, such as how individual database records are transformed by an ETL tool. But then they can also zoom out, which allows them to see the big picture of how data flows throughout the organization, including being combined with other data sources (often a source of contamination).
“In the past you needed to be a data engineer or Data Intelligence expert in order to navigate these lineage diagrams, because they were just very complicated,” Wey tells IT Jungle. “Our latest release gives access to business users to directly interact and engage with the business data that’s traveling through an organization in a very easy and intuitive way.”
Rocket provides about 200 different connectors with Data Intelligence, which allows it to see into a wide variety of upstream transactional systems and the relational databases powering them, as well as the downstream data warehouses and the databases powering them. The company constructs its model of data flows using metadata collected from these systems.
The use of cloud-based SaaS applications, such as NetSuite and Salesforce, has provided a new wrinkle in today’s data flows. According to Wey, it’s not uncommon for data gremlins to show up when data from these SaaS applications are combined with other systems.
“A lot of people spend time reconciling differences in reports,” Wey says. “Very often, you’ll have a sales leader and a finance leader or a marketing leader or a business unit leader and they’ll come to the table with reports and the numbers don’t exactly match in many organizations across the globe because you generate a lot of data out of the systems. You have the core transactional systems, but then it’s very common to have all sorts of SaaS applications that are departmentalized that add . . . information, and you don’t know what’s the vintage of this particular information.”
Rocket also differentiates itself by treating IBM i and System z systems as first-class entities in Data Intelligence. That’s somewhat unique in the tool category, because a lot of other data tool providers often can’t access them, Wey says.
“Many vendors treat these IBM i systems like a black box,” he says. “[They say] ‘If you have this weird IBM i system over in the corner, that’s a black box and we’re not going to look at it.’ But we don’t subscribe to that view, obviously, and we have a long history in IBM i and mainframes and other systems. And visibility into that IBM i environment in addition to the distributed systems is really important.”
The new Data Intelligence Explorer is a Web-based product. Rocket is providing aggressive licensing to encourage more users to adopt it, Wey says. The old interface is still available too. You can view a video of the new Explorer interface on YouTube.