Centerfield Offers DB Management Essentials

Many AS/400 shops have embraced business intelligence at some level or are at least planning to. But how can these organizations be sure they are getting the most out of the business intelligence applications and systems they are implementing?

Enter Centerfield Technology, a relatively new Rochester, Minn. company, and its DBA Essentials product. DBA Essentials is a combination of software and methodology designed to help IT departments manage their DB2/400 database and decision support environment.

It promises to do this by lowering the development and ongoing maintenance of a decision support environment, while enabling wide-scale deployment of data analysis applications.

Mark Holm, president of Centerfield Technology and a former product manager of ShowCase Strategy, says DBA Essentials seeks to fill a void for data warehouse management tools in the AS/400 market. “These problems have been around for a long time and there aren’t a lot of people solving them,” he notes.

Ken Peters, VP of marketing at Centerfield, says some third-party business intelligence vendors have developed their own database management and optimization solutions, but they only work with those vendors’ products.

“We’ve taken a server-centric approach,” says Peters. “Whatever application they have, we’ll work with it, anything that’s coming to DB2/400 via SQL, ODBC or JDBC.” He adds that Centerfield is exploring partnerships with both business intelligence and ERP software vendors for packaged or integrated offerings."

There are four components to DBA Essentials – Database Essentials, User Access Essentials, Performance Essentials and Methodology.

Database Essentials uses a visual, task-oriented approach to help database administrators and developers understand DB2/400 file relationships, manage security, visually interpret SQL statements, define metadata and identify and create indexes.

User Access Essentials is a reporting environment that helps IT track down and diagnose performance problems in an ODBC/JDBC environment. It allows IT to govern resource consumption by user, time of day or both. Performance Essentials, available in the first quarter, next year, optimizes the database environment through automated performance management and load balance. It analyzes the system to identify tuning opportunities and suggest required changes or automatically implement those suggestions. It also generates reports on all performance-related activity.

The Methodology component is a set of business and management practices to help users deploy each of the other three components properly.

Holm says DBA Essentials addresses all levels of the data warehouse environment – system, DB2/400, table and SQL statement. “Being able to track data usage, monitor users, diagnose problems and improve performance greatly increases the return on your DB2/400 and query tool investment,” he says.

Centerfield was founded last year as Bradenmark Software, a company that helped AS/400 application vendors deliver their solutions on CD-ROM. It switched its focus to DB2/400 optimization early this year.