DataProfit Opens AS/400 for Business Intelligence

In the late 1990s, business intelligence (BI) tools have proven to be a boon to organizations looking to squeeze the most from their mission-critical data stores. In the AS/400 world, BI tools haven’t yet had much of an impact, but with the encroachment of client/server networks into even the most strictly homogeneous of AS/400 shops, the AS/400 is fast becoming a popular back-end database server for BI client machines. As a system integrator and BI tool developer, DataProfit Corp. is one vendor that’s concentrating on building bridges for the AS/400 to the business intelligence space.

Business intelligence theory essentially holds that BI tools can provide a simplified means of analyzing business information to gain insight into customers, products and potential market opportunities. Accordingly, DataProfit’s BI solution-set is anchored by its BIEnablers, a suite of BI tools the company maintains can enhance the value of an organization’s existing ERP investment by providing analytical and reporting capabilities in tandem with J.D. Edwards WorldSoftware and OneWorld software.

DataProfit will distribute two versions of its BIEnabler software: BINow!, which the vendor is targeting toward departmental or trial users; and BIQuickStart!, which the company indicates is better suited for organizations seeking to implement a BI solution by deploying a data warehousing approach. Each BIEnabler component includes application software, software support, reporting and OLAP templates, and consulting services.

According to Evan Steiner, director of software sales for DataProfit, even though most BI tools grew up almost exclusively within the client/server space, they can actually coexist with AS/400 systems with very little difficulty. "I think it’s more that the tools that are available are more client/server-oriented tools, and therefore tend to run on the client and will access the AS/400 as the database server without any problem," he says. "I mean, you can’t use an OLAP tool on a green screen, but if you have other key components in place like Windows client machines, you’ll be fine."

In early May, DataProfit also announced that BI kingpin Cognos Inc. planned to introduce a new version of its HeadStart for J.D. Edwards WorldSoftware BI tool that was developed in conjunction with DataProfit. According to DataProfit’s Steiner, the new tool set was engineered to help enterprise customers gain faster access to the analytical and reporting capabilities of their Cognos BI tools.

"What we’ve done is put together a tool set that is based on the Cognos tools Impromptu and PowerPlay," DataProfit’s Steiner acknowledges. "This new tool set gives customers a very easy way to come up with a personal concept for a data warehouse or for using OLAP tools or reporting tools in their business."

The new HeadStart for J.D. Edwards WorldSoftware BI tool is the result of a December 1998 technology agreement between Cognos and DataProfit. At the time of the announcement, Cognos also designated DataProfit the systems integrator partner of choice for Cognos license sales and services opportunities for J.D. Edwards software.

Peter Belanger, director of finance and information technology for adhesives manufacturer Quabaug Corp., says the combination of DataProfit and Cognos technology is a winning one. "We are using DataProfit and Cognos to implement a Business Intelligence solution that fully integrates J.D. Edwards ERP software with our financial planning process," he comments. "Right now, we use a wide variety of spreadsheets and other information to plan the business. When the new Business Intelligence system goes live next month, we will have more accurate and timely information."