IBM’s Information on Demand (IOD) conference, recently held in Las Vegas, looked like a coming out party for business intelligence (BI) on the System z. At the event IBM unveiled a slew of products relating to business analytics and data management, many of which involved System z.
The party actually kicked off in June when IBM announced a smorgasbord of new or enhanced System z product offerings covering everything from application development to transactions to system management. Tucked into the announcement were a handful of BI-related announcements including InfoSphere Warehouse for z, Cognos 8 BI for Linux on z, a new version of DB2 for z/OS, and the coming of IMS 11, the latest rev of that venerable transaction database.
Some sessions at the IOD conference apparently turned into quite an IMS love fest according to attendees. Several large companies boasted running 200 million transactions per day on IMS 11, another combined IMS 11 and WebSphere in a SOA application. Yet another demonstrated IMS 11 running on the Amazon cloud—another case of decades-old mainframe technology showing off new tricks.
The conference actually highlighted what looks to be the second coming of BI on the z, a set of old mainframe capabilities long AWOL. The resurrection of BI on the z was a natural consequence following IBM’s acquisition of Cognos and the growth of Linux on the z.
BI on the mainframe once was the only way to get to the organization’s primary data, and it took the form mainly of static reports. With the rise of distributed systems, BI moved to those more dynamic platforms. Yet the data still resided primarily on the mainframe and often cumbersome steps were required to get it to the distributed platforms that would dice and splice it for BI purposes. This gave rise to data warehouses, data marts, and assorted middleware. The return of BI to the mainframe simply brings those capabilities close to where the data originates—in IMS, DB2, CICS and the other core mainframe systems.
What’s encouraging about IBM’s born-again interest in BI on the mainframe is the way the company is extending BI beyond the usual analytics. For example, it is taking unstructured content and making it available for BI analytics through tools like Cognos Content Analytics and InfoSphere Content Assessment. It also is incorporating unstructured content into master data management.
Finally, it is bringing mashups to BI. Mashups are browser-based end-user applications that combine data from different systems on a single screen. IBM has offered its Mashup Center as a development platform for some time. Now it is adding the Cognos 8 Mashup Service to produce BI mashups.
Wells Fargo is one of the early mashup BI users. According to IBM, the bank is using mashups to pull together various pieces of existing information such account balances, the status of wire transfers, and real time market updates. You can bet a lot of mainframe data goes into those mashups.
So when it comes to BI, the System z is now back as a serious player. But this clearly is not your father’s BI.
By the way, I will be looking deeper into BI on the mainframe in the coming months. Here is a recent BI case study of mine, Univar. If your organization is doing anything BI-like that involves the mainframe and you’d like some glory, just let me know, firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to write about it.