12
Wed, Jun
4 New Articles

Get Real-Time, On-Demand Information for Business Intelligence and Data Integration

Collaboration & Messaging
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Businesses demand immediate, ready access to real-time data integrated from disparate sources. Software-based data sharing fulfills that need.

 

Editor's note: This article is an extract from "Get the Facts: Real-Time, On-Demand Information for Business Intelligence and Data Integration," available free from the MC Press White Paper Center.

 

Business moves at the speed of light. At one time, the preceding statement would have been rhetorical. Today, it's often literal.

 

Consumers shop online, interacting directly with sellers' systems. In the business-to-business world, one company's systems may connect electronically with another company's systems to initiate supply chain activities without any human involvement. And, in some industries, the business environment changes at speeds that were unheard of a couple of decades ago. For example, airlines may automatically adjust fares several times a day to optimize passenger loads and revenues.

 

In this environment, it isn't enough to make data available sometime, somewhere, somehow. It has to be available right now, wherever it's needed, and in the format that best serves the purposes of its various users.

 

You've got computers. You've got high-performance databases. Making information instantly available should be easy, right? Wrong.

 

The problem is that information often resides in applications and databases that typically don't share data well. Consequently, it may require expensive programming and/or regular operator intervention to facilitate data sharing—if it is possible at all.

 

Specifically, IT is frequently challenged to find easier ways to distribute data between application silos in real-time, without spending a lot of money and without re-hosting applications or performing significant application surgery. Meeting that challenge is difficult because most IT environments include a mix of databases, applications, and operating systems.

 

There are several possible contributing factors to this data-sharing conundrum. For example, best-of-breed applications running on differing hardware, operating systems, and databases might have been bought for each business function. Mergers and acquisitions might have saddled the organization with a collection of disparate databases. Over time, platform standards might have changed within the organization, but some legacy applications and databases still run on the old platforms. Databases were likely optimized for operational requirements, possibly rendering them extremely inefficient for business intelligence needs.

 

The upshot is that database administrators now worry about more than simply Oracle, DB2, and SQL Server. Many also have additional databases to support, such as MySQL and CA-IDMS. In addition, there may be hundreds of individual user databases created in MS Access, MS Excel, and Lotus Notes.

 

The inability to easily share data across disparate platforms and application silos poses a significant obstacle to business strategies that require a more nimble, adaptable, and knowledgeable enterprise. Consequently, senior managers expect IT teams to deliver consistent, quality, real-time data that creates a single view across the business.

 

Forrester Research refers to "right time data integration," which requires that data assets be constantly recombined for reuse in new applications and new environments. It also means that data integration must occur everywhere in the business, which includes integrating internal systems and online processes with customers and partners.

Software-Based Data Sharing

One solution that can fully meet the needs of right time data integration in environments with disparate hardware, operating system, database, and application platforms is software-based data replication, often also referred to as data-sharing software.

 

An explanation is in order. The dictionary definition of replication is to make an exact copy, but that is not quite what this class of software does. Data replication products that are used to facilitate disparate data sharing copy the meaning of the data but not necessarily its form.

 

These products can, for example, share data among DB2, Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase, and other databases. In addition, the data may be organized differently on each of the databases. For instance, for efficiency reasons, an operational database may be structured differently than a data warehouse. Table and column names and data types may also differ in the different databases.

 

Often, the disparities go beyond differences in database management system (DBMS) technologies and database schemas. Frequently, the data looks different as well. For example, one database might store dates in YYYYMMDD format, while another uses DDMMYY. Product names might be in French in a database supporting operations in France, but in English in the U.S. database. When moving data into a data warehouse, it might be necessary to derive an entirely new "region" field, based on postal/ZIP codes, so that business analysts can quickly and efficiently analyze data on a regional basis. The range of these possible differences is endless.

 

Data replication products can reconcile these disparities by applying data transformation routines to in-flight data. These products typically ship with a collection of built-in routines to handle standard transformations, such as date reformatting, but also allow you to custom-code your own. The restrictions, if any, on which languages you can use to code transformations vary among the available products.

 

Software-based replication solutions typically provide graphical interfaces that display the schemas of the databases in the data-sharing processes. You can then point-and-click to map flows between data sources and targets, even when the table layouts and field names differ among the databases.

 

These graphical interfaces minimize the time required to set up and manage data sharing. In addition, because these tools drive data-sharing processes at the database or journal level, rather than at the application level, they typically don't require any time-consuming programming. The only time additional programming may be required is when your organization needs to perform specialized data transformations that cannot be handled by the routines shipped with the product.

 

One possible—and often overlooked—use of data-sharing products is to enhance security. Organizations increasingly provide customers and suppliers with access to some segment of their data and applications. The question is, how do you ensure that the data you don't want to share is safe from unauthorized access?

 

Databases incorporate security features that should protect against these threats, but the better security gets, the better hackers get. Because you can instruct a data replicator to copy only selected rows and columns, one solution to this problem is to maintain a database that contains a near real-time copy of only the data that is to be shared. This database can be located outside the corporate firewall. The firewall can then be configured to allow only the data replicator to send data through the firewall.

 

Another advantage of this approach is that the structure of the database provided for external users can be different from the structure of the internal database, with each optimized for its specific purposes.

Data Sharing: Top Management Issue

Data-sharing requirements are widespread in today's heterogeneous computing environments. A software-based data-sharing solution can fulfill these needs by providing a simplified, easy-to-manage, click-and-go facility to share data between disparate databases and application silos, without the need for additional programming.

 

Furthermore, if the data-sharing product is built on open systems technology, its adaptability will extend the life of your existing applications and databases and enable them to remain responsive to changing business and information needs.

 

For more information, including case studies showing how companies are using software-based data sharing, please download the Vision Solutions white paper "Get the Facts: Real-Time, On-Demand Information for Business Intelligence and Data Integration" from the MC Press White Paper Center.

Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson, vice president of research and development at Vision Solutions, has over 14 years of experience in developing high availability and disaster recovery products and features targeted specifically for enterprise class customers. Mr. Johnson manages a team that works very closely with Vision's customers, business partners, and IBM in successfully developing leading-edge high availability solutions.

 

Mr. Johnson has 25 years of experience in software and high technology business and also serves as an advisor to the University of Minnesota on its Management of Technology (MOT) advisory board. In addition, Craig has written or co-written a number of articles on high availability topics and technologies and is a recognized expert in the area.

 

Prior to joining Vision, Mr. Johnson worked in a variety of software engineering projects and technologies at NCR Comten, Unisys, and IBM. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and business finance from the Minnesota State University in Mankato.

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

LATEST COMMENTS

Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:
$

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: