Business Objects to Offer Single View of Mainframe Data Sources

Partnership with IBM gives BI users a single view of data stored in DB2, VSAM, and IMS sources

When Informatica Corp. last year acquired the former Striva Corp. to flush out its own mainframe extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) strategy, that left several of Striva’s partners—including BI giant Business Objects SA—in the lurch. Recently, however, Business Objects announced an OEM agreement with a vendor that has some experience with mainframe connectivity—IBM Corp.

Business Objects will license IBM’s DB2 Information Integrator Classic Federation for z/OS for use with its Data Integrator ETL tool. Data Integrator, you may remember, is based on ETL technology Business Objects acquired from the former Acta, which specialized in SAP connectivity. Since then, Business Objects has enhanced and fleshed out Data Integrator, such that it now fields a solid mid-market ETL offering, according to Forrester Research.

Philip On, a senior product manager for Business Objects, says a large number of his company’s customers need to get at mission-critical data on their mainframe systems. Many are using third-party ETL offerings, and some will continue to use the Striva technology, but On believes as many as one-quarter will be willing to give Big Blue’s DB2 Information Integrator offering for z/OS a try.

On claims that for existing Data Integrator customers who use Striva’s technology to get at their mainframe data, a move to Information Integrator can result in big dividends. “It gives us the ability to do distributed processing, so BI can push down some of the basic [ETL] processing to the mainframe to minimize the movement of data,” he says, noting that organizations can “push down joins, where clauses, or different functions that are best left where the data resides.”

Thanks to work that Business Objects and IBM have done under the covers, On says, Information Integrator can give Data Integrator users a single view of all mainframe data sources. This includes data stored in DB2, IMS, VSAM, and other mainframe sources. “We worked with IBM to provide this capability, and really the key thing going into this is who better to offer mainframe connectivity than IBM themselves?” he argues. “So we really worked with them for really tight integration with Data Integrator at the technology level.”

On expects Business Objects’ new mainframe connectivity solution to appeal largely to the company’s existing customer base; these customers already have substantial investments in the company’s BI solutions and could be tempted to stay with—or move to—an all Business Objects stack. Even so, he doesn’t rule out uptake from new users.

“We just closed a deal with a customer that was a heavily entrenched IBM account, and they were actually pulling a lot of their data from Microsoft DTS scripts or COBOL hand-coded scripts,” he says, noting that this particular company originally planned to tap the services of ETL powerhouse Ascential Software Corp., which is an IBM preferred partner. “So definitely, that was a challenge for us to get into that account. But because of this partnership, we were able to position ourselves to provide an enterprise-class ETL tool.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.