Sunday, November 28, 2010

Boulder BI Brain Trust on WebFOCUS

Earlier this year, Information Builders met with the Boulder BI Brain Trust to brief the group on the upcoming release of WebFOCUS 8.  In case you are not familiar with BBBT, they describe themselves as "a gathering of leading, local, BI consultants and experts who attend 1/2 day presentations from interesting and innovative BI vendors."

Following the IBI meeting, two BBBT members--Richard Hackathorn and Ronald Damhof--each summarized his own thoughts on the organization's blog.

An industry veteranHackathorn remembers Information Builders' start in the mainframe reporting market and sees their current software products as an ongoing evolution from the initial 4GL offering: 
"IBI is a long-term, established vendor in the BI market. The FOCUS lineage is impressive, having solid global customer communities. The product continues to evolve, expanding its features into a full BI suite...a long way from simple reporting on tape files. IBI tends to be omitted from discussions of BI suites. You would be smart of include them on the list."

Damhof, who admits his mother gave birth to him not long before Gerry Cohen founded IBI, was either not familiar with the software vendor or confused by their marketing message. 
"I gotta say that I was surprised listening to the BBBT meeting with Information Builders. I tend to think of myself as somebody who is reasonable knowledgeable about tooling in the BI realm. Either I was wrong (nahh ;-)) or there is something going on with the message that is not conveyed properly."

Damhof went on to say: 
"IBI is offering a platform and in my opinion they are trying to sell this platform. Selling platforms makes selecting IBI a very high profile investment within any organization, in that realm the competition is tough as well as internal opposition. Why not break the platform marketing-wise into several functionalities? One example would be the Data Integrity tooling, it can easily be a separate functionality, separately marketed and priced. As I said I am not very familiar with IBI software, but I like the angle of WebFOCUS being some kind of informational development platform where you can develop and distribute data-oriented apps very quickly. It is certainly an angle that would differentiate IBI from its competitors!"
  
While Damhof seems to caution IBI against offering a full BI stack due to stiff competition from the mega-vendors (SAP, IBM Cognos, Microsoft, and Oracle), IBI should compare that advice to Boris Evelson's polar-opposite comment to the few remaining pure BI vendors: 
"Offer your own full BI stack or position yourself for an acquisition. No other long-term options in my mind."

Feedback from BBBT may indicate that Information Builders is still challenged to articulate a consistent marketing message of who they are and what their products do.  In the late 1990s, IBI had a major chasm to jump as they transitioned from selling a host-based 4GL tool to an enterprise business intelligence platform.  Even today, people may still be confused or ill-informed.

Just this week, Computer Business Review wrote an article suggesting that Information Builders is considering legal action against Micro Focus, a three-decades old software vendor of COBOL tools.  As IBI's software peer grows and reinvents itself as a legacy modernization vendor, somebody within IBI must be concerned about confusion over the "Focus" products. 

I can personally vouch for this misunderstanding-- over the years, I have talked with many industry individuals who when I mentioned FOCUS thought I was talking about Micro Focus COBOL. Of course, I also saw similar confusion by companies over the difference between IBI and IBM, which may have benefitted Information Builders. 

Despite the confusion, like Hackathorn states, Information Builders has a robust BI application development suite and companies should include WebFOCUS on their short-list of potential software purchases.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Where to Store HTML Forms?

With the -HTMLFORM syntax, WebFOCUS provides web app developers with a way to utilize HTML forms and syntax within the FOCUS 4GL code.  You can include not only web pages for displays and user input but JavaScript processing as well.

You have two options when doing this: either embed the HTML code inside the WebFOCUS code or reference an existing HTML page stored elsewhere.  

Syntax for inline HTML code:



Syntax for referencing separate HTML code:



You can see your Information Builders documentation for more details on the -HTMLFORM command. I have seen both of the above options in use at client sites and only recently encountered an issue that would cause me to suggest one approach over the other.

If you embed the HTML form inside the 4GL code using the BEGIN and END tags, the WebFOCUS pre-processor for Dialogue Manager symbolic variables will read that HTML code. If you have ampersand variables referenced in the HTML form, you run the risk of having substitution happen when you do not want it. Then, you need to take extra steps to make sure your variables are not evaluated and changed to their literal values. For example, if your HTML contains a servlet call with variables, those will get evaluated and changed (not what you want to happen).

If on the other hand your program just references the HTML form stored in an HTML file, WebFOCUS does not do the symbolic variable evaluations. Problem avoided. 

So here is my advice. If you need to dynamically build an HTML form, then putting it inline and using Dialogue Manager is your best approach. However for static HTML forms, you should always put the HTML code elsewhere and reference it by name inside your WebFOCUS code.

Another note: I believe that as of the latest 7.6 release, your HTML form file must be on the WebFOCUS Report Server in the app path and not in the Managed Reporting Environment. When searching for the referenced HTML form file, WebFOCUS is currently only searching the WFRS applications and not looking in MRE (I have asked IBI for an enhancement to the command).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ventana Research Names IBI a Leader

Ventana Research recently named Information Builders, the software vendor of the WebFOCUS BI product, one of their vendor technology leaders.  For more information, see the IBI press release.

DIY WebFOCUS Functions

If you are an experienced WebFOCUS developer, you are all too familiar with the standard user-written subroutines provided with the BI product.  You are sure to have old-time favorites such as EDIT, SUBSTR, and HEXBYT for which you still need to go back to the documentation to refresh your memory on the parameters.

Historically, many of these came from the old FOCUS Users Group (FUSE).  Customers wrote their own routines and shared them with their friends at user group meetings.  For the really useful routines, Information Builders would provide them to other clients in the FOCUS FUSELIB library.

While it has always been possible to write your own subroutines that could be called from within the 4GL product, it meant using a low-level language--such as C, Fortran, Assembler, or COBOL--and then linking your module into IBI's software.  This was something not for the novice or weak at heart.  You had to remember to do this with each upgrade and/or platform migration (and not to lose the original source code!).

Information Builders has changed that.  It is now quite easy to build your own functions using a fairly new feature called DEFINE FUNCTION.  If you are experienced with DEFINE and COMPUTE calculations, you can code one of these functions.

Below is a simple example of a function that reformats a date string.








It really looks just like a DEFINE FILE block of code; it uses the same syntax except for the first statement.

You give each function a specific name, such as CHGDATE in my example, as well as input parameters.  My example only has one input parameter (a date string), but they can have more.

Inside the function, you can have lots of statements, but there does need to be one calculated column named the same as the function that will contain the answer to be returned to the calling program.  In this simple example, the calling program passes in a ten-digit string, checks for FOC_NONE (in other words, there is no parameter value and this statement is to be ignored by WebFOCUS processing), reformats the date string (okay, I already know it's a silly function, so don't waste your time suggesting code improvements.), and passes back the answer.

You can put your homemade functions inside a particular report program (a FOCEXEC), inside a common module for sharing (a -INCLUDE file), or keep them on the WebFOCUS Report Server (in the server profile, or EDASPROF) where they can be in memory for any program.

These DEFINE functions get invoked just like any other function or subroutine call.  You can call them from a Dialogue Manager statement or from the DEFINE/COMPUTE phrases.

Here is an example of invoking my CHGDATE function using Dialogue Manager:





For more information, see Information Builders' TechSupport site or drop me a note.

By the way, I caused some of you programming experts out there to ponder the difference between functions and subroutines (terms I used willy-nilly in the above blog).  For those interested, a function has a specific connotation in programming.  A function should accept your input parameters (and not modify them) and return an answer.  That is all it should do; take input, process it, and give you back a value.

A subroutine, on the other hand, is not under any type of "legal" restriction.  You call it and it can do all sorts of things; it doesn't have to even pass back an answer to you.  A subroutine performs some type of procedure for you when you call it.  That is the difference between a subroutine and a function.

In the old days of the FOCUS 4GL, users wrote whatever external routines they wanted so calling them subroutines was appropriate.  With the new WebFOCUS DEFINE FUNCTION, you are truly writing functions in the pure sense of the term.

Monday, November 1, 2010

WebFOCUS 5.3 Functionally Stabilized

Information Builders, the Manhattan-based vendor of WebFOCUS and iWay Software, recently announced that they will functionally stabilize the 5.3 release of the products in January 2011.  Currently, all 5.2 and older releases have been stabilized.

Here is IBI's formal notice from their TechSupport website:

WebFOCUS Release Notes
Release 5.3 Functionally Stabilized January 31st, 2011

Applicable to: The Entire Release 5.3 Product Line (iWay, WebFOCUS, DataMigrator and ETL Manager), All Platforms

This advisory provides advanced notification of planned changes in product availability and support.

Effective January 31st, 2011, WebFOCUS and iWay Release 5.3 on all platforms are functionally stabilized. This is applicable to the complete 5.3 line of products including the WebFOCUS Client Release 5.3.x, WebFOCUS Developer Studio Release 5.3.x, WebFOCUS ReportCaster Release 5.3.x and the WebFOCUS, iWay, DataMigrator and ETL Manager Reporting Servers Release 5.3.x on all platforms. Customer support will still be available for this release, however, no patches or fixes for new problems will be provided.

Users on this release level should upgrade to the most current WebFOCUS or iWay Reporting Server release at their earliest opportunity.

DOCID: 1002324

This announcement goes hand-in-glove with IBI's published release schedule which lays out the plan for their major new architectural change (WebFOCUS 8) someday soon:


Information Builders supports the most current and past three releases of their products.  Releases before that are "functionally stabilized," which means that IBI will no longer provide any fixes for products released that far back.

The old WebFOCUS releases are not "dead" -- they are just in a perpetual state of minimal life-support.

You can still call the Customer Support group and talk about issues related to the stabilized software, but IBI's suggested solution will always be to upgrade to a newer WebFOCUS release. 

But that of course means you need to be paying IBI the annual maintenance fee.

If you are running a stabilized release of WebFOCUS (today, that means 5.2 and older) and you stopped paying maintenance fees, then you are out of luck for fixing problems.  If you want to reinstate the maintenance and upgrade, don't be surprised if you have to pay for all missed past annual fees.

The moral of the story is pay IBI those annual suppport fees and keep your WebFOCUS releases up-to-date.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Information Builders Becomes a Forrester Leader

Information Builders, the software vendor of the WebFOCUS product, is in the news in the recently published Q4 2010 Forrester Wave on Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms.  Read about it in my general BI blog.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Business Intelligence Principal for USA IN/KY/OH Territory

Because you are such a well-networked individual, I have a favor to ask. I am looking for a savvy technologist to help grow a Midwest professional services organization.

Partner Intelligence specializes in Business Intelligence software services, offering strategic advice, application development, and automated conversions. Currently, we concentrate on Information Builders' WebFOCUS but there is a strong possibility we will expand into other BI products, such as IBM Cognos. Geographically, we are currently focused on major cities in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.

I am searching for a high-quality person who has both pre-sales business development and the right BI skills to envision and design a solution, lay out a project plan, and participate part-time in the execution of the engagement (I know, I am asking for a lot). I call this important role a "BI Principal."

The BI Principal would work as part of a team. A "hunter" business development person handles the standard sales activities and brings in the Principal only upon finding qualified opportunities. The Principal has a team of delivery specialists and project managers to execute his or her plan. The Principal also has easy access to executive leadership and corporate administrative functions.

More than likely, the right candidate is going to have previous experience with a software vendor doing technical sales support.

If your network contains such a gifted person, please let me know.

Doug Lautzenheiser (DLautzenheiser at GMail dot com)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

WebFOCUS and the Apple iPad

Happy and sad.  I was happy to see Information Builders giving away Apple iPads to attendees of their annual users group conference.  I was sad not to see any presentations on actually using WebFOCUS for mobile business intelligence.

Information Builders does not offer any type of BI app in the Apple Store.  However, that does not prevent you from using WebFOCUS for mobile apps on the iPhone or iPad.  The Apple devices come with the BI tool of choice for WebFOCUS: the Safari web browser!

I tested Safari with WebFOCUS and it works fine for business intelligence, including Information Builders' BI Dashboard (the use of HTML frames causes problems for the Blackberry browser). Safari JavaScript did well for general logic, calendar controls, cookies, and calling WebFOCUS.

(I will be really sad if the upcoming new version of the WebFOCUS BI Dashboard does not work on the Apple mobile devices.)

If you are interested in using WebFOCUS for mobile BI applications, contact me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

IBI 2010 Summit Presentations Available

On their website, Information Builders recently published the 2010 Summit presentations from their annual WebFOCUS and iWay Software users group meeting in Orlando.  Gerry Cohen, president and founder of IBI, sent out this message to attendees:
Summit 2010 has come and gone, but the knowledge, relationships, and skills gained from the event will stay with us for a long time. Thanks for being a part of this year's conference.

If you missed any of our sessions or labs, you can catch many of the presentations by visiting our Summit Agenda Web page.

You can also go to: informationbuilders.com/events/summit/index.html for complete coverage of the general session on IBTV, as well as see a slideshow of Summit's highlights. You might even see yourself!

Thank you once again for attending. And keep your eyes open for an exciting new incentive program for next year's event!

I truly hope you'll use Summit's best practices to put your information to work!

If you are looking for WebFOCUS application samples, this is a good resource.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

IBI Announces Major New Version of WebFOCUS

In mid-June 2010, Information Builders made available a major new version of their enterprise Business Intelligence product, WebFOCUS.  First released around 1995, this mature web-based BI product is now at its 7.7 moniker.

This release is just a foreshadowing of the WebFOCUS 8.0 product that IB has planned for the end of the year.

IB identifies the following strategic new features in WebFOCUS 7.7:
  • Enhanced Active Reports Visualization, including new Flex/Flash charts
  • Build Active Reports Dashboards directly from InfoAssist
  • Enhanced performance enhancements and many limits lifted across the product
  • Significant metadata enhancements including simplified metadata management
  • New adapters for Columnar Database (1010data)
  • Centralized Console configuration for iWay and WebFOCUS adapters 
  • New DataMigrator release (Change Data Capture, Real-time updates, etc.)
  • ReportCaster Workload Management & Fail-Over

Because of major modifications to the product, Information Builders warns existing customers to fully test their BI applications before upgrading to WebFOCUS 7.7:

The Release 7.7 implementation is a major new feature release that contains hundreds of new features that span all product components. As such, Information Builders strongly recommends that customers evaluate Release 7.7.01 in a test environment, do extensive regression testing, and promptly report any issues to Customer Support.


This is a good opportunity to climb onto a soap box and quickly restate my opinion on the necessity for multiple BI environments.  At a bare minimum, you must have two -- one for test/development and another for production.

For a major release test such as this, however, you really should have three images: sandbox for upgrade testing, test/dev, and production.  You do not want problems with a major release to mess up your test/dev environment while your developers are trying to roll out new applications.

In an ideal world, you would actually have the following BI environments:
  • Sandbox for software product testing (does not impact test/development application work)
  • Development / Testing (test data environment; purists want two separate images, but I see that as overkill making a person develop in one place and promote into a different test area.  With that said, however, if you demo to clients from a test environment, you don't want a developer monkeying with the application at the same time as your presentation)
  • Production QA (user acceptance area, production data volume testing)
  • Production (protected, secure, always available, high performing environment)
  • Disaster Recovery (in case your Production environment goes kaput)


If you have not yet purchased WebFOCUS, work with your IB sales rep to include multiple images -- that can be more cost-effective to negotiate upfront. 

If you need assistance with regression testing of this new WebFOCUS release, please contact Partner Intelligence.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summit 2011 Being Planned

With Summit 2010 just coming to an end, Information Builders is already making plans for next year's annual WebFOCUS and iWay Software user conference. 

Inside sources say that Dallas and Las Vegas are being considered as locations for Summit 2011.

Stay tuned!





2011 Updates: be sure to see the most current information here:


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summit 2010 Winner!

At Information Builders' Summit 2010 annual users conference, Partner Intelligence gave away a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort Noise-Cancelling Headphones.

Congratulations go to Jaclyn from Indiana!  Presenting the prize is Partner Intelligence's Account Manager Eric Bulmahn.

(By the way, noise-cancelling headphones are a useful item to have when flying in and out of the kid-oriented Orlando airport).

We selected Jaclyn's name randomly from surveys completed by conference attendees.  As a result of our BI survey, we confirmed our belief that companies are extremely interested in WebFOCUS BI dashboard technologies. 

Individuals are also looking for advice on how to strategically use Business Intelligence within their organizations.  Also on their minds are efficient ways to replace their legacy reporting applications with modern BI products such as WebFOCUS.

The days were long and I did not have opportunities to blog while working the event.  I will post some after-the-fact blogs soon.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Information Builders Summit 2010 Offsite Event - Universal Studios

It is official! 

As part of their Summit 2010 User Conference, Information Builders will host an offsite event at Universal Orlando.  On Monday, the 7th of June, shuttles begin leaving the Gaylord Resort at 7PM.

In past years, Information Builders has rented out Universal's New York section (which is quite appropriate for this Manhattan-based software vendor).  They typically serve a nice buffet meal at Finnegan's Bar and Grill and then turn the guests free to wander the park.

Only the Information Builders group will be at the park -- with the smaller crowd, it is easy to go from ride to ride with no waiting in line.  

If Information Builders picks the same spot, be sure to try the Revenge of the Mummy rollercoaster.  Other great rides include Back to the Future, ET, Shrek 4D, and Jimmy Neutron (my personal favorite).  You can also see live-action attractions such as "Twister...Ride it Out."

If I don't see you there, don't forget to get your picture taken with the Great White from Jaws!  And don't miss the last shuttle back to the hotel at 11:45PM.

June 2010 Update:

Yes, it was back to Universal Orlando's New York section for Information Builders!   This year, Summit attendees enjoyed a new rollercoaster attraction. 

But, alas, it is no longer possible to ride in Doc Brown's Delorean and travel Back to the Future.  Universal has remodeled the infamous car into a virtual rollercoaster through KrustyLand with The Simpsons.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Partner Intelligence and WebFOCUS

Let me explain the Partner Intelligence organization. In a nutshell, we help companies make better business decisions through effective use of Business Intelligence software and data.


We organized the company to provide our clients with what they want and need:
  • Experienced individuals who deliver on promises and produce the desired results
  • Value for their money
  • A company that is easy to work with
  • Local resources who will be there for a long-term relationship
  • A trusted advisor who has their best interest in mind


In addition to our clients, we exist for our "Partners" -- those valued individuals who work with Partner Intelligence. Our associates receive the following:
  • Full-time employment (we are not a subcontracting "body shop")
  • Annual salary plus incentive bonus plan (we do not pay on a temporary, 1099 basis)
  • Full benefits (e.g., health, disability, paid-time off, training)
  • Career opportunities (e.g., projects at marquee clients, knowledge transfer, access to resources)
  • Fun environment
  • Meaningful work


We also provide services to vendor partners such as Information Builders. In mid-2007, we formed our first relationship with IBI as an "InfoElite" partner. Later, we switched to an "Advisor" role and are now one of their few "Solution" partners. In this new relationship, IBI gave Partner Intelligence the ability to sell the WebFOCUS software to new customers.


Partner Intelligence is a division of a larger company, one of the fastest growing privately held firms in Cincinnati. Partner Professional Staffing provides staffing and recruiting solutions for IT, finance, healthcare, and government. This debt-free and profitable parent organization provides Partner Intelligence with a strong financial foundation as well as wise executive leadership.


But what exactly does Partner Intelligence do? Well, we specialize in WebFOCUS BI software and offer three main consulting services:
  • Strategic BI Advice
  • BI Application Development
  • Automated BI Conversion Services


You might ask, "What makes your BI advice strategic?" During their careers, our experienced BI consultants have learned the best practices along the entire life cycle of a BI product lifecycle. We have organized this know-how and can provide sound advice on how to:
  • Select the right BI software product
  • Create an enterprise BI "Road Map" for success
  • Organize the proper individuals to support a BI product and run BI initiatives
  • Establish the proper procedures and policies for successful BI initiatives
  • Implement the right technical architecture
  • Anchor the BI environment with an early successful project
  • Leverage existing resources for efficient BI projects
  • Identify opportunities for legacy modernization or replacement


Our clients ask us for a variety of BI application development services, such as:
  • Dashboard or portal-type online web applications
  • Mobile handheld applications
  • Reporting applications
  • Data maintenance and transactional applications
  • Database BI repositories
  • Support or enhancement of existing BI applications
  • Mentoring and/or training of client staff


We also have a niche in automatically converting one BI product to another. This unique ability to automate complex conversions sets Partner Intelligence apart from all other service providers. Because of our experience and proprietary software and methodology, Information Builders' Professional Services group selected Partner Intelligence in 2009 as the preferred supplier of automated conversion services.


We call our automated conversion software the "BI Consolidator." Currently, the application can handle legacy reporting tools such as:
  • FOCUS 4GL
  • NOMAD 4GL
  • Oracle Portal
  • Crystal Reports
  • QMF/SQL


Bob Gabriel, the VP of Professional Services at Information Builders, explained his decision this way:
"We chose Partner Intelligence because of their success automating complex conversions of legacy technologies into WebFOCUS.  Partner Intelligence’s software application can reduce the time, cost, and risk of converting companies into WebFOCUS clients."
 
Richard Smith, our sponsor at the State of Oklahoma Department of Human Services, wrote this after their automated conversion project:
“When I engaged Partner Intelligence to do a major project to convert hundreds of production jobs from mainframe FOCUS to WebFOCUS in just six months, it seemed like an unattainable undertaking. Not only was I wrong, but this was one of the smoothest projects on which I have had the pleasure of working in years! If you need to convert code, then Partner Intelligence is the company you need to work with!”

Tim Sharp, VP at JPMorgan Chase, made this comment:
“[Doug] was engaged to assist my team to automate a 4GL replacement project. The project was estimated to span a significant portion of the year and preliminary costs would be very large. Thanks to Doug's expertise and commitment to the project, we successfully converted the legacy reporting tool in just a few months.


In addition to reducing the cost and complexity, we were able to quickly take advantage of the WebFOCUS features that led to employee productivity improvements. We also were awarded a ComputerWorld award for the initiative. I am glad I took Doug up on his offer when he said, ‘I'll bet I can automate that!’ He delivered on everything that he promised.”

Gerry Cohen, the co-founder of Information Builders, had this to say about us:
“Partner Intelligence has had success automating complex conversions of legacy technologies into WebFOCUS. Our customers are quite happy with Partner Intelligence's capabilities and we are pleased with the partnership.” 



In addition to the information you can find on this blog, be sure to read information about the BI Consolidator software and DAPPER methodology on my general BI blog.  Click here for details.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Partner Intelligence is Sponsor of IBI Summit 2010

Partner Intelligence is sponsoring Information Builders' Summit 2010 User Conference in Orlando, Florida. 

Check their sponsor website for more information.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Information Builders Funnies

Information Builders, the vendor of WebFOCUS, now offers comics. 

Comics about Business Intelligence, anyways.

And even though it is the first of April, I am not pranking you--just see for yourself.  There is only one BI comic on Information Builders' website today, but more will follow.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two Minutes on WebFOCUS

Take a two minute break and see Information Builders' quick presentation on WebFOCUS.

Friday, March 26, 2010

WebFOCUS Dropping CGI and ISAPI Support

On March 26, 2010, Information Builders' Customer Support group sent e-mails announcing that WebFOCUS would stop supporting the use of web CGI and ISAPI calls. 

Nobody needs to panic.

These interfaces allow the end user's browser to communicate through the web tier to the WebFOCUS Report Server.  CGI refers to "Common Gateway Interface" programs which enable web pages to talk with other systems.  ISAPI, or the "Internet Server Application Programming Interface," is a Microsoft version of this technology. 

There was a period in early web application development when people asked, "Should I use CGI or Java Servlets?" but those days are long gone.  Instead of using these legacy technologies, IB would like all customers to switch to their Java Servlet method.

IB says that the CGI/ISAPI calls are not being installed with WebFOCUS Client component as of their most current 7.6 releases. 

In Q2 of 2010, IB will release WebFOCUS 7.7 and will "deprecate" the use of the CGI/ISAPI at that time.  Basically, you can still use those calls temporarily but you have been given notice that IB will sunset the features sometime soon.

Your deadline is when WebFOCUS 8.0 comes out -- the legacy CGI/ISAPI features will then be gone, officially "desupported" by IB.

If you have only developed WebFOCUS Business Intelligence applications for a few years, you most likely started with a Java application server (and may not even remember CGIs and ISAPI calls).  You will not be impacted by IB's sunsetting decision.

If you have used WebFOCUS from its genesis in the mid-1990s, you probably did use CGI calls to build the initial web BI applications.  Sometime in the last decade, however, it is very likely you dropped the CGI and switched to the newer Java Servlet. 

However, if you really do have legacy WebFOCUS BI applications out there with CGI calls in them, Partner Intelligence's BI Consolidator product has a feature to automatically convert your HTML pages to use Java Servlets.  If you have ISAPI calls instead of CGIs, we should be able to easily handle those in an automated conversion as well. 

Our automated conversion application can process about 20 programs per second, so talk to us before doing this manually.  If you are unsure if your WebFOCUS HTML pages use CGI, Partner Intelligence can automatically scan, inventory, and discover what your logic is doing. 

If Partner Intelligence can be of service, just let me know.



You may also be interested in these articles:


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sample WebFOCUS BI Dashboards

Recently, a blog reader arrived while looking on the web for sample WebFOCUS BI dashboards. 

While some companies might create public sites using WebFOCUS, most use the BI Dashboard product for internal applications.  A good place to look for examples would be for PowerPoint presentations from earlier Information Builders Summit presentations.

You might also try a search aggregator such as Addict-O-Matic.  It's a neat site that uses all of the other search engines plus sites such as Flickr, Twitter, Truveo, YouTube, and others.  Give it a try now for WebFOCUS BI Dashboards. 

You can also try it for Summit presentations (hey -- look who shows up in the top results!).

Also, if you need to see samples in order to build your own WebFOCUS BI Dashboards, feel free to contact me for assistance.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

IBI and IBM Partner for System z Data Warehousing

Today, Information Builders and IBM announced a new Business Intelligence partnership for data warehousing on the System z platform.  See the press release.

The new "Data Reporter for DB2" is a special WebFOCUS version specifically for System z DB2 data warehouses. 

Just a few years ago, IBI and IBM announced a similar partnership with the "DB2 Web Query" product -- a special WebFOCUS version made for System i data and intended to be a next-generation replacement for Query 400. 

This announcement raises some questions.  For example, if WebFOCUS supercedes Query 400 on the System i, is this same modernization message true for its mainframe peer Query Management Facility (QMF)?  A bigger question is, why didn't IBM just use its own BI product, Cognos, which also runs on the System z?

You can also read about this on Information Builders' website.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Partner Intelligence to Speak at IB Summit 2010

It is once again time for Information Builders' annual user group conference. From June 5th through 9th, Summit 2010 will be taking place at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida.

At this event, Information Builders will roll out WebFOCUS 8, the latest release of their Business Intelligence software product. If you would like to see examples of last year's presentations, see my earlier blog.

Also, Partner Intelligence will present with a government agency to demonstrate how we automated the conversion of their mainframe batch processes from using the legacy FOCUS product to WebFOCUS. It's amazing -- hundreds of reporting jobs were literally converted in just seconds.

If you are thinking of manually converting mainframe FOCUS to WebFOCUS, you need to see our presentation before you waste any of your company's time and money.  If you use legacy 4GLs (FOCUS, RAMIS, NOMAD), QMF/SQL, DYL280, Crystal Reports, or other old reporting tools, see how Partner Intelligence can leverage your existing application investments by translating into modern technology.

During the presentation, we will explain our DAPPER Methodology for automating the retirement of your legacy reporting tools. We will show you the tools we use to automatically scan, discover, and inventory your existing applications, dramatically reducing your upfront analysis time and cost. Then, we will show the automated conversion tools to translate legacy reporting applications into web-based BI with no manual coding effects needed.

Nowhere else will you will get the time and cost savings you will achieve from working with Partner Intelligence.  Manual BI conversions are a thing of the past, only proposed by services firms who want to provide you with a team of consultants for long, expensive engagements.

Contact me directly if you are attending Summit 2010 and would like to meet face-to-face to discuss how we can work together to dramatically reduce the time, costs, and risks of your enterprise BI consolidation efforts.

About Me

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I am a project-based consultant, helping data-intensive firms use agile methods and automation tools to replace legacy reporting and bring in modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics. For several world-class vendors, I led services teams specializing in providing software implementation and custom application development. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven methodologies and automated software tools.

During twenty years of technical consulting, I have been blessed to work with smart people from some of the world's most respected organizations, including: FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, graduating summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders, the vendor of WebFOCUS BI and iWay enterprise integration products, and for over a dozen years served in branch leadership roles. For several years, I also led technical teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting.