Information Builders, the enterprise business intelligence (BI) standard of choice for organizations around the world, and its subsidiary iWay Software, an innovator of enterprise integration solutions, announced the release of DataMigrator 7.1 and Service Manager 5.5 as part of a joint organizational road map for customer-facing, BI-related data integration issues.

As part of this vision, Information Builders and iWay Software have outlined six data integration strategies for business intelligence and have aligned the development of future product releases - including the new versions of DataMigrator and Service Manager - to support this road map.

iWay DataMigrator 7.1

DataMigrator - iWay Software's extract, transform and load (ETL) tool, which supports both traditional batch ETL, and trickle-feed ETL for real-time data updates - provides improvements around ease of use, auditing and management, and integration with other iWay tools. Key features include:

  • Improved support for data definition, custom process definitions and metadata management from the Web console, which helps administrators easily service-enable data regardless of location, format or DBMS - even legacy data.
  • Easier graphical join definitions, defined within the source system, which simplifies the way that ETL designers select data to use and ensures that all operations (including, but not limited to, DataMigrator processes) can use the data consistently.
  • Easier project management through the use of application directories and filtering, which helps users and administrators organize large projects efficiently.
  • Additional support for disparate data sources and nontable sources (e.g., Oracle stored procedures).

These capabilities enable users to perform ETL, enterprise information integration (EII), and related forms of data integration, especially in the following three of six integration strategies.
Traditional data warehousing - Data is extracted from multiple systems and physically moved to a single database that has a consistent data model. Before loading, the data must be transformed to reconcile the source data models into the data warehouse's model. The major advantages to this technique are query performance and the single view of the data. Disadvantages are that it usually involves long development cycles, requires different business units to agree on the definitions of key terms such as "customer" or "sale," and the data inside the warehouse is only refreshed periodically. This method is well-suited to BI implementations that require strategic planning and other long-term work.

Operational data access and EII - Data is retrieved in real time from an operational system. The advantage is real-time information; disadvantages include the fact that most operational systems were designed for transaction processing instead of reporting and business intelligence. If users need to query information from multiple sources at the same time, this is EII, and they must pay careful attention to performance issues. Whether one source or many, this strategy is well-suited to operations management, short-term planning and analysis, and departmental-level business intelligence.

Drill-through data warehousing - This strategy combines other methods listed to create a data warehouse (real-time or traditional) for most analytical and reporting work, while allowing users to use information from the data warehouse to trigger reports from operational systems. Because it combines the advantages of the other strategies, it is suitable for a very wide range of applications, allowing data architects and business users to work together to use the best means possible to solve any given business problem.

iWay Service Manager 5.5

The iWay SM 5.5 release provides significant improvements to the usability of the tool for service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects. It also improves utility for data integration and business intelligence. New features include:

  • A fully redesigned Web console that walks users through a graphical definition of a service- and event-handling interface, the selection of reusable process flows that define service implementations, and other requirements particular to the interfaces.
  • Business intelligence object that allows users to call Information Builders' WebFOCUS reports from within a process flow, enabling reports to provide input into business processes and for Web services to initiate information delivery to end users.
  • ETL object that enables services to automatically initiate iWay DataMigrator jobs.
  • Enhanced ease-of-use features such as deferred design mode, improved debug capabilities, and more.

These capabilities, enhanced in iWay SM 5.5, support the other three of the six types of data integration.
Real-time data warehousing - This approach provides the benefits of data warehousing - a single version of the truth and good performance characteristics - but ensures that business users get what they need in real time. It retrieves transactions as users enter them, cleanses them, reconciles them to the data model in the data warehouse, and loads them directly into the warehouse immediately, without waiting for a nighttime bulk load. This strategy is well-suited for complex environments in which users need real-time information derived from multiple information streams, such as contact centers, anti-terrorism activities and some types of marketing activities.

Process-driven business intelligence - This approach may use any of the other data integration mechanisms, but adds two important capabilities: the ability to monitor business processes and detect relevant events in them, and the ability to participate in business processes and contribute information to them. In the former case, the process-driven alerts must detect significant events and send them to the relevant users. Only significant events should be passed to users so that they won't be overwhelmed with data, and the events must contain rich enough information for the users to be able to make relevant business decisions based on it. In the latter case, the business intelligence system must be able to inject information (e.g., "break-even price for product #1234") into a business process so that the process can adapt to changing circumstances. This strategy is needed for process automation and process improvement.

Web services - This approach to data integration provides ways to retrieve and manage data using industry standards that have the potential to do more than SQL, ODBC, JDBC and other data-oriented standards. Since many application-integration and SOA tools use Web services, this is an effective way of blurring the line between application and data integration. Implementations that include Web services can be more interoperable and flexible than those that do not.

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