Many corporations have many different databases scattered around, from a variety of vendors, on a variety of platforms. This makes life difficult for decision makers who want to run queries against multiple databases. Reporting tools can access individual databases and tables, but can't access them in combination. A data warehouse can do the job, but building one is expensive and time- consuming.
Two new products promise to run queries and reports simultaneously through multiple databases. Petroleum firm Global Cos. LLC uses DQBroker, from Metagon Technologies LLC ($A50,000).
Global got in trouble in 1998, when it moved its accounting system from a mainframe to a client/server Oracle Financials system. "We used to run integrated divisional analysis reports that relied on databases on the mainframe," says IS director Jim Shelton. "Suddenly we realized that doing this integrated reporting was a lot harder because now the data was on two different platforms." For example, customer order entry and sales analysis data remained on the mainframe, while receivables data and ledger entries for the same customers were now on the Oracle platform.
Global now uses DQBroker to access data from those and other databases. This middleware product, so called because it lies between front-end user applications and back-end databases, performs the complex function of enabling the user application to join tables from multiple databases as if they were in the same database.
"With this tool, we were even able to augment the Oracle Financials by allowing users to drill down between databases," says Shelton. DQBroker required just a day to install, plus another two days of consulting to get it operational.
Textbook publisher Hough-ton Mifflin Co. is considering a different product to access its 18 large databases, some as much as 15 years old: Info X-Ray, from InfoRay Inc. (starting price is $150,000). "Info X-Ray provides mapping tools that look across disparate databases, and lets us slice customers across the company and produce reports," says chief technology officer Mark Mooney.