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Long in the Tooth Query/400 Gets a Replacement

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Why has the sun set on Query/400? Organizations simply need more-powerful reporting capabilities to underpin profitability. Data mining and business intelligence practices are levers to improved decision-making processes, and query/report-writing tools with greater analytical capabilities are enormous fulcrums. Organizations that have used the progenitors of the modern-day System i have amassed lots of (for gosh sakes, don't use the word "legacy") data that can be mined for business intelligence purposes.

Now, emphasis is also being placed on application modernization and Web accessibility. Ease-of-use and broad user familiarity with GUIs and browsers are the drivers behind app modernization. Some argue that users are actually more productive with these types of interfaces because Web-based panels can automatically populate fields in instances where actions are repetitive.

To be sure, green-screen applications and tools are still widely used. They have a purposeful industrial feel that many organizations are unwilling to discard. Likewise, many people are comfortable with Query/400 and believe they can generate a report on anything. If you're a Query/400 shop and want to continue doing things the way you've always done them, your lucky horseshoe is definitely working because the old tool is supported within the framework of the new one.

For those who are ready to saddle up, IBM has made it easy to migrate existing queries from Query/400 to IBM DB2 Web Query for System i. An automated facility allows you to select the existing query or queries you wish to translate and produces the new Web Query report, which can be run as-is or embellished.

Tradition aside, there are lots of good reasons to embrace IBM DB2 Web Query for System i. For starters, IBM's new native System i query tool offering has morphed into a Web 2.0-esque file and report generator that has its roots in asynchronous JavaScript and XML. AJAX lets Web pages act like conventional application panels that support multiple input fields simultaneously. Furthermore, it's easy to implement and easy to maintain and has practically no footprint.

In retrospect, "morph" may actually be the wrong word since IBM DB2 Web Query for System i gets its DNA from Information Builders, whereas Query/400 is an evolved version of Query/38. It's worth noting that if you are already using WebFocus from Information Builders, a product that has been on the market for nine years, all you really need is an adapter for Query/400.

The latest query optimization technology in DB2 for i5/OS—referred to as SQL Query Engine, or SQE—is also built into this tool. SQE was first delivered in V5R2, and it features object-oriented design. SQE speeds queries because the optimizer now resides below the machine interface. And it uses enhanced algorithms to improve responsiveness. It also delivers better performance on long-running queries and retains road maps for ease of use.

An On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP) feature offers better granularity and drill-down capabilities, and APIs are available to powerful OLAP and data mining solutions like ESSBASE/400 and Clementine.

One big advantage with DB2 Web Query for System i is that it has a parameterized reporting feature that could substantially reduce the backlog of requested yet undefined reports because the number of reports that have to be maintained individually is greatly lessened.

The ability to manage from multiple sources had been addressed with new adaptors that facilitate cross-system data federalization. Incorporating data from multiple disparate data sources into a single report makes homogeneity one less thing for chronic complainers to complain about. Over two hundred adapters are available to connect to other databases. The adaptors needed to pull data from separate System i logical partitions are already included in the base product.

Once you are ready to create your new report, the new WYSIWYG Power Painter component helps you do it with ease. If you prefer the simplicity of wizards, alternatively, you can use the new Report and Graph Assistant components.

Aside from report output being accessible in HTML dashboards or scorecards through a common browser, it can also be flowed directly into PDFs and Excel spreadsheets. Reports can be better tailored to your organizational needs though advanced reporting functions that include matrix reporting, color coding, ranking, drill-down, and font customization.

Finally, a new Active Reports feature facilitates reporting without having to be connected to the server.

BI could also stand for "big investment" but not in this case. Existing Query/400 customers can upgrade to DB2 Web Query for free, with only annual maintenance fees due. One stipulation is that you have to be current on i5/OS maintenance. (For that matter, another is that you must be running i5/OS V5R4.) New licenses range from $1,600 to almost $50,000, depending on the machine it is licensed to and how many users you have.

Lots of additional information, including a Redbook entitled Getting Started with DB2 Web Query for System i, can be obtained by visiting the IBM DB2 Web Query for System i Web site.


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