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.

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About Me

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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, 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, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest 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. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.