Q:

I am working on an OS/400 Platform, setting up a data warehouse structure for my company. A fact table of 5,000,000 records is up and running but tool vendors BO, Cognos have told us that OS/400 is not the right platform to perform OLAP queries. Is this correct? If it is correct is NT an alternative (knowing that the base fact table will be +/- 30 million records)? Are there other products that perform well on an OS/400 platform?

A:

Sid Adelman’s Answer: Be careful of what the vendors tell you. It may be that their tools don’t run well on your platform. Before you change platforms, talk to other vendors with OLAP products, tell them you have an OS/400 platform and see what they say, and be sure to talk to IBM. Ask IBM to give you a list of companies running OLAP queries on OS/400, talk to those companies and find out what OLAP products they use. You don’t have to visit them, calling on the phone works just fine. Since you will have size issues, be sure to ask for reference sites that have databases as large or larger than your final plan.

Les Barbusinski’s Answer: Very few vendors optimize their software for the AS/400 these days. Since most data warehouses are built on either UNIX or NT platforms, most tool vendors optimize their software for one – or both – of these platforms. Although NT can’t scale as high as UNIX (despite what Redmond says), NT can be an effective platform for a data warehouse depending on the overall size of the database, the number of users hitting the database at any one time, the complexity of the queries and the complexity of the data transformations that need to take place each night. Performance problems can always be addressed by beefing up the hardware (i.e., more processors and/or RAM) or by clustering the NT servers. I’ve seen some very good NT-based data warehouse implementations that were between 100 and 150 gigabytes in size, servicing up to 75 concurrent users. I don’t know enough about your particular implementation, but it sounds like NT could be a viable alternative in your case.

Chuck Kelley’s Answer: I probably would not use NT as my platform yet, based on the size of the fact table. I am not sure why the OS/400 is not the right platform, other than BO and Cognos believing that product will not run as well on the OS/400 as other platforms.

Clay Rehm’s Answer: I am not sure what is wrong with running on the OS/400 platform. My guess is that most software vendors have tailored their applications to run best on Windows and, thus, want you to run on that platform. I am not familiar with all the products that run on OS/400, but I would suggest you talk to IBM about what tools they may have or who they would recommend.

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