CATEGORY: BI Tools

REVIEWER: Richard Stuemke, systems advisor for the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State.

BACKGROUND: The Illinois Secretary of State's Office manages one of the largest computer databases in that state, keeping track of more than 7 million motorists, 8 million vehicles, nearly 360,000 corporations' filings and 4,000 state employees' records. It also maintains official records for the state's general assembly, executive branch and library. The Office has become an important platform for educating people about drunk driving, traffic safety, literacy and organ donation and uses statistics from its databases in these educational campaigns.

PLATFORMS: IBM 9672-R35 mainframe with OS/390 operating system V. 6, running QMF for Windows Version 6 as a feature of IBM's DB2 database.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We converted from an obsolete Honeywell/Bull System with Louis II to IBM DB2 running on OS/390 with QMF for Windows Version 6, because IBM has better features. We needed large scale query and reporting on a Windows platforms, and QMF for Windows provides that. Twenty departments here have DB2 databases, and twenty users access this data daily plus our programming staff of 140. Management wanted QMF for Windows so users wouldn't need to call the programming staff constantly for reports. We needed an easy interface so users wouldn't have to know SQL. QMF for Windows Version 6 lets them generate reports with a simple point-and-click interface. Also, it's good to know we can quickly publish reports to Web servers. With QMF for Windows, we get bottom-line numbers quickly. Our Honeywell/Bull/Louis II system wasn't that fast. We formerly ran batch jobs at night, and it was slow. We had to dump files to make it run faster. In contrast, QMF for Windows gives us the automatic load balancing and data sharing information that DB2 for OS/390 V6 makes available. This has greatly improved performance for us. The front office likes to go to a meeting with the latest personnel numbers. Of the 4,000 employees we have, 300 turn over every year. QMF for Windows lets our users get these statistics on demand, change selection criteria quickly and make these reports consistent with the date and time settings on their own PCs.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: QMF for Windows Version 6 is a PC-based product and allows us direct access to our DB2 databases without any kind of middleware. It's easy to use and powerful. It does anything we need it to do as far as SQL is concerned. Many of our business reports are more complicated than running a single query and form. We need to run multiple queries, save the temporary result sets, produce and format multiple reports and often export or import data. QMF for Windows lets our users do this simply by selecting and running a single business report. They can also store new procedures at a database server and share them with workgroups.

STRENGTHS: QMF for Windows has a very easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI). The integrity of the data and its speed are other strengths.

WEAKNESSES: It would be nice to have grouping and summarizing right in the query result interface using drag and drop. I understand that Version 7 of QMF For Windows will have that feature.

SELECTION CRITERIA: QMF for Windows Version 6 was proposed to us by IBM as an enhancement. We already had QMF on the host, and we wanted QMF for Windows on the PCs so we wouldn't have to have time sharing.

DELIVERABLES: QMF for Windows gives us a responsive, easy-to-use interface to data involving millions of records, requiring little end-user training or knowledge of SQL. Also, we needed to automate complex reports and processes to filter data many different ways. QMF for Windows provides that with very high reliability and performance. QMF for Windows allows us to analyze the history of query activity so we can identify the most frequently used data, clean up unused objects and spot problems before they cause significant performance slow downs. QMF for Windows can be set to react to DB2's Version 6 predictive governor, so that queries that exceed thresholds set by the administrator will be canceled.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Support has been excellent. We had a couple of problems at the start, and Rocket's technical specialists were able to resolve them quickly for us.

DOCUMENTATION: The online documentation and hard-copy user guides are easy to understand.

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