IBM, TIBCO Remain Mum on Db2 Web Query Future
November 1, 2023 Alex Woodie
While Db2 Web Query users are left hanging in the wind without any official way forward to protect their investments in the product, IBM and TIBCO have yet to make any public announcements about how to support these IBM i customers moving forward.
IBM shocked the midrange last month when it announced the sudden end of life of Db2 Web Query, the IBM i-based analytics tool that was largely based on an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) version of the WebFOCUS product originally developed by Information Builders and now owned by TIBCO.
The October 10 announcement – the same day that IBM released info on the Fall 2023 Technology Refreshes for IBM i 7.4 and 7.5 – not only revealed the immediate end of marketing of the product, but also ended the ability of customers to order software maintenance. It essentially marked the sudden death of a product that, by all appearances, was a healthy and vital component of the IBM i stack.
The death of Db2 Web Query is just starting to sink in for users of the product, some of whom have invested tens of thousands of dollars in the business analytics tool that now appears to have no future. Some customers have floated the idea of litigation, although there’s no indication that anybody has filed suit yet.
IT Jungle has reached out multiple times to IBM and TIBCO for comment on the sudden death of the product and how existing customers should move forward, and has yet to hear back.
Last week, we told you how frustrated two IBM i shops, Total Biz Fulfillment of Maryland and Littleton Coin of New Hampshire, are over the unexpected demise of a product they rely on to run their businesses.
“I’m not a happy camper,” said Ken Meade, the director of information technology at Littleton Coin. “…I’m not sure what I’ll do.”
“Ending support for a product with no forewarning, and no recommended path is unlike anything I have ever seen from IBM,” said Greg Wilburn, the IT director of Total Biz Fulfillment. “We will most likely look elsewhere for a solution to replace Db2 Web Query.”
To be sure, there are numerous potential replacements for Db2 Web Query, some of which even run on the IBM i server. New Generation Software, SQL iQuery from Bob Cozzi, SQL/Pro from ProData, SEQUEL from Fortra, and LANSA BI from LANSA, all do some of what Db2 Web Query did, and run on the IBM i server (or at least have some native integration).
For customers willing to look beyond the IBM i server for their data analytics capability–which frankly is more common than running OLAP or advanced analytics directly on the transactional-oriented system–the choices are much more numerous. For a taste of what’s available in the broader market, check out this story on the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence platforms.
The world of open source provides even more options for analytics databases and BI tools for building SQL queries and visualizing the results.
But what about Db2 Web Query customers who are happy with the product, thankyouverymuch, and want to keep running it on their IBM i server? If the software is already installed and running, customers could theoretically support themselves indefinitely. Of course, if customers wanted to go that route, they probably wouldn’t have been so willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for a packaged offering, pay consultants more tens of thousands to build out dashboards and reports, or forked over tens of thousands more for annual maintenance bills in the first place.
Some IBM i professionals have floated the idea of a conversion tool for moving Db2 Web Query installations to other environments. Others have noted that TIBCO already markets a product called ibi Web Query for IBM i, which is a native IBM i implementation of the original WebFOCUS product and in all likelihood the closest cousin to the Db2 Web Query product. It’s unclear how willing existing Db2 Web Query customers would be to moving to this product, but it’s possible that some might.
Db2 Web Query has been sold since the fall of 2007, when IBM and Information Builders inked a deal to build an IBM i-native version of WebFOCUS and sell it as an IBM licensed product. The OEM relationship continued after Gerald Cohen, the longtime owner of Information Builders, sold his New York City-based BI company to TIBCO in 2020.
It’s unclear how many Db2 Web Query licenses IBM has sold over the years, but it would be very surprising if the number was under 1,000. Considering the extent of the investments IBM has made in the product in recent years – including the addition of ETL, streaming data via Apache Kafka, connections to cloud-based data warehouses, and machine learning capabilities in the visualization tool – it is likely much higher.
We’ll continue to await official words from IBM and TIBCO on the matter.