Data Access on IBM i: Is It Time to Upgrade from Query/400?

Business Intelligence
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Modern demands are placing greater pressure on organizations to develop their data-centric capabilities even further.


Editor's note: This article introduces the white paper "Transform Your Data Into Insight" available free at the MC White Paper Center.


For over 30 years, Query/400 has been the data access tool to generate reports easily from DB2 data—allowing access to insight like never before. While it continues to be sufficient for basic reporting functionality, most organizations are beginning to be challenged with the need to access and report on larger volumes of data. With business users asking for easy-to-access dashboards and reports to gain insight more easily, you might need to consider if it's time to upgrade from Query/400.


With an increase in data gathering and analytics in the last several years, data has entered the spotlight of business technology. Organizations have become increasingly concerned with the usability of their data—it is no longer enough to just harvest large volumes of it. Business users are requesting access to data and analytics in order to take the temperature of the business at a glance—on a daily basis.


The transition to greater degrees of data access on IBM i started with Query/400, which many businesses still utilize today. However, organizational data is no longer used only for risk management—it's now in the driver's seat for decision-making. Because of this, a good data access tool must be able to accommodate both technical users (those searching for data across multi-partition files) and non-technical users (the decision-makers or users). The more access business users have to the insights they glean from data, the faster they can make a decision. If IT becomes the bottleneck, it not only frustrates users, but it fails to capitalize on the value of all of that data information in the first place.


A Brief Look at Query/400: How Is It Used?  


IBM released Query/400 in 1988. It was highly regarded as the interface to generate reports easily from DB2 data while allowing programmers to leverage Query/400's robust functionality for their organization's more complex needs.


Almost 30 years later, many organizations running IBM i still use Query/400 as their primary reporting tool. While it remains sufficient for basic reporting functionality, most organizations are now challenged with the need to access a larger volume of data over multiple partitions and databases than before.


Query/400 can only search a single partition at a time on the local database, requiring the IT user to create multiple queries to report on and distribute the data—limiting the decision-maker's ability to gain insight and make informed decisions.


How Organizations Use Data Today


Rutgers University Professor Michael Lesk estimates that there were several thousand petabytes of information in the world in 1997. In comparison, The Global Information Technology Report 2013 from The World Economic Forum revealed that North America generates more than 7,000 petabytes of data each month in online web traffic alone.


This explosive growth has far-reaching implications. The capacity of digital storage devices has risen considerably, and new database systems, such as Hadoop, have emerged to handle the volume and variety of big data where traditional solutions have struggled to keep pace. Not only has the sheer amount of data grown, but the expectations surrounding its purpose, analytics, and information management have changed, too. According to Forrester analyst Holger Kisker, data was once primarily used to mitigate risk and prove compliance with industry regulations.


In a recent survey, 72 percent of respondents said that their primary motivation for data access and analytics was to improve business decision-making.


Why Invest in a New Data Access Tool?


As previously mentioned, modern demands are placing greater pressure on organizations to develop their data-centric capabilities even further. There is understandable cause for concern that IT will lose control over their data if they move beyond Query/400 and the classic green screen interface. But a modern data access tool provides significant value over existing or legacy solutions, especially with regard to managing and accessing the volume of data organizations deal with and the multiple portals from which they need to access it.


Want to Know More?


Download the free white paper "Transform Your Data Into Insight" from the MC White Paper Center.