IBM i Shops Have Alternatives to Db2 Web Query
November 15, 2023 Alex Woodie
The sudden demise of Db2 Web Query has sent customers looking for alternatives. The good news is that IBM i software vendors offer a number of pre-built solutions that can fit the bill.
Here are some potential business intelligence tools from vendors that could serve as replacements to Db2 Web Query. We’ll take a look at open source alternatives in a future article.
Cozzi Research SQL World
Cozzi Research develops two query tools for IBM i, including SQL iQuery and SQL Tools, and bundles them both in a single product called SQL World.
Cozzi positions SQL iQuery as a native alternative to Query/400, the AS/400 query facility that has long since been fully depreciated. The software brings a handful of built-in functions that enables developers to write SQL statements to manipulate data in Db2 for i.
SQL Tools, on the other hand, provides a collection of SQL functions and stored procedures that users can run from any SQL interface on IBM i. Cozzi says SQL Tools “pick up where IBM Services end.”
Fortra SEQUEL and ShowCase
Fortra (formerly HelpSystems) owns several business intelligence products for IBM i, including the SEQUEL line of products originally developed by Advanced Systems Concepts (ASC) and the Showcase tools that were originally developed by SPSS.
SEQUEL is a suite of products for storing and accessing data on Db2 for i. The suite includes a native IBM i data warehouse called SEQUEL Data Warehouse that includes extract, transform, and load (ETL) and change data capture (CDC) capabilities. It also sells SEQUEL Data Access, which provides users with either a greenscreen or a GUI interface, as well as SEQUEL Web Interface for a browser-based experience.
Fortra also sells a collection of Windows-based reporting tools under the Showcase Deployment Bundle. While ShowCase was best known for the IBM i port of the multi-dimensional Essbase database, IBM killed the product after it acquired SPSS (SPSS, you will recall, acquired the ShowCase business from Hyperion). The Essbase port was killed by IBM in 2011, just as it killed its own Db2 OLAP Server product six years earlier. You may find more information at www.fortra.com.
ibi (formerly Information Builders) develops the webFOCUS line of products, which was the basis for IBM’s Db2 Web Query tool before the OEM relationship suddenly disintegrated.
webFOCUS is unique because it’s one of the few BI suites that runs natively on IBM i. The suite gives users the capability to explore, create, analyze, publish, and collaborate on analytics content residing on a variety of platforms, including IBM i.
webFOCUS includes location analytics and machine learning capabilities, as well as support for cloud deployments.
ibi is part of Cloud Software Group, a company formed by TIBCO following its acquisitions of Information Builders, Citrix, Jaspersoft, Netscaler ShareFile, and XenServer. For more information on webFOCUS, go to www.ibi.com.
IBM Cognos Analytics and Query for i
IBM’s flagship BI suite, Cognos Analytics provides enterprise-level capabilities that span everything from data modeling and data exploration to report building and dashboard production.
Cognos Analytics supports Db2 for i, as well as every other major database, and provides AI-assisted data cleanup capabilities. Machine learning can also be found in the Cognos dashboard to help users spot patterns or anomalies in the data.
Cognos Analytics supports an array of interfaces, including mobile interfaces. For more information on Cognos Analytics, go to www.ibm.com/products/cognos-analytics.
Another potential replacement for Db2 Web Query is Query for i, which is a licensed program that can be used to select, format, and analyze information from database files to produce reports and other files. For more information on Query for i, see the IBM manual on the product.
LANSA, which is best known for creating IBM i development tools, earlier this year introduced LANSA BI, a Java-based suite of business intelligence tools that cover standard analytic functions, such as connecting to data sources, preparing data for analysis, and creating reports and dashboards.
LANSA BI is based on the BI software from Yellowfin, which is owned by Idera, which acquired LANSA in 2019. Yellowfin introduced its first BI solution back in 2003 and it has amassed more than 3 million users since, the company says.
LANSA BI is designed to run on a Windows or Linux server and connect to Db2 for i via a JDBC connection. The product, which features a Web-based interface, can also be used to build reports and dashboards from data housed in cloud-based data warehouses, such as AWS’s Amazon Redshift or Snowflake.
One of the features of LANSA BI that is expected to resonate with customers is its natural language query (NLQ) capability, which will enable users to construct queries in plain English as opposed to learning to program in SQL. It also utilizes machine learning capabilities to help users spot patterns in the data.
LANSA BI is still in early release. For more information, click here.
New Generation Software NGS-IQ
One of the most widely used BI suites in the IBM i ecosystem is NGS-IQ from New Generation Software. The suite of tools serves an array of BI needs, ranging from ad hoc query and Web reporting to OLAP (multidimensional) analysis and KPI development.
The core component of the suite is IQ Server, which runs directly on the IBM i server and executes “interactive queries” (IQ) against Db2 for i. IQ Client provides a traditional Windows-based environment for developing dashboards and reports, while the Web Reporting component provides a Web browser and smartphone interface.
A component called QPort Access integrates NGS-IQ with MS Office applications like Excel and Word, while QPort SmartView gives users a way to conduct more advanced functions, such as manipulating, pivoting, filtering, and drill into data, without the need to write code. Meanwhile, IQ Connexion provides a way to bring external data residing on SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Postgres, and Db2 for LUW databases into NGS-IQ.
NGS has sold tens of thousands of seats of the software to IBM i and Windows shops over the years. You can read more about NGS-IQ at www.ngsi.com.
If you have information on more vendor-supported BI tools for IBM i, please don’t hesitate to contact us here.