IBM Partners with Appfluent to Improve DB2 Warehouse Scalability

Just because IBM went out and bought itself a best-of-breed BI player doesn’t mean it can’t and won’t partner with other BI competitors

Just because IBM Corp. went out and bought itself a best-of-breed business intelligence (BI) player (the former Cognos Inc.) doesn’t mean it can’t and won’t partner with other BI players.

Consider the accord Big Blue recently signed with Appfluent Technology Inc., a specialty provider of usage and workload analytics for BI and data warehousing scenarios. Given Appfluent’s existing relationship with Cognos -- in late June, both companies announced plans to deliver capacity planning, capacity management, and growth assessment capabilities for the Cognos 8 BI platform -- its eventual partnership with IBM seems almost to have been predestined (see http://www.tdwi.org/News/display.aspx?id=8507).

Big Blue’s relationship with Appfluent has a similar impetus. In this case, IBM is exposing the Appfluent technologies as part of its DB2 Warehouse Performance Management Suite, a new offering that also draws upon Big Blue’s own DB2 performance monitoring capabilities. The idea, says Marc Andrews, program director for IBM Data Warehousing, is to equip administrators with the tools they need to better manage their DB2 data warehouse assets. In this respect, Andrews says, DB2 Warehouse Performance Management Suite provides advanced capabilities for reporting and analysis of data and system utilization.

Is it a coincidence that IBM notched a deal with Appfluent to improve the performance and scalability of DB2 data warehouse environments only months after Cognos -- acquired less than a month ago -- entered a similar accord? Yes and no, says Andrews. While Cognos’ existing arrangement with Appfluent didn’t necessarily factor into Big Blue’s thinking, he says, Appfluent’s market-leading position (which, he argues, undoubtedly attracted Cognos to it in the first place) was a decisive factor.

"The reason we selected to partner with [Appfluent] is probably the same reason that Cognos selected to partner with them: they provide some of the best out-of-the-box tools for better managing business intelligence deployments," he comments. "This is also partly a measure of looking at who are the market leaders for delivering reports, and Appfluent delivers pre-built reports for these kinds of use cases. They provide the ability to deliver those reports using either [the] native tools in DB2 Warehouse … or they also provide out-of-the-box reports for both Cognos and Business Objects -- so if you have Cognos or Business Objects in place in your organization, you can leverage the existing reporting structure [in tandem with Appfluent]."

What’s more, Andrews points out, IBM last month also announced a significant partnership with Business Objects, so Appfluent’s out-of-the-box support for that company’s reporting innards will likely be welcomed by many joint DB2 Warehouse and Business Objects customers (see http://www.tdwi.org/News/display.aspx?ID=8694).

In any case, Andrews continues, IBM developed its new DB2 Warehouse Performance Management Suite in response to customer demands.

Managing Resources

"What we’re seeing is that these warehouses start becoming difficult for these organizations to deliver and ensure the same type of performance for all of these applications," he says. "[Customers are] looking for ways to better understand the impact of their users and all of their applications on the data warehouse. Things like, how is the data being used, how can they manage the performance -- you know, dedicate processing power to the different applications to ensure they can dedicate the resources to the [application] that needs it the most."

The new Performance Management Suite builds on the Extreme Workload Management capabilities IBM touted in tandem with its DB2 Warehouse 9.5 release in October. "These were fairly significant [capabilities]: if you look at how most warehouses provide the ability to manage mixed workloads, they provide priority-based workload management. That enables you to specify that certain applications have priorities that are higher than others," Andrews explains.

In any priority-based workload management system, high-priority applications or workloads invariably end up competing for scant data warehousing resources with less-important workloads. "It’s because even though you might prioritize that one application over another, other applications eventually do get their requests into the system. Over time, they eat up and use up as many resources as they can to get their answers," he indicates. "Eventually, a batch report gets into the system and it eats up all the resources, which impacts the performance of the other applications -- even if they have higher priorities."

DB2 Warehouse Edition’s Extreme Workload Management capabilities are implemented independent of Appfluent’s workload analytic technology, of course. At the same time, Andrews says, the Appfluent technology can help customers get more out of their Extreme Workload Management configurations.

"To take advantage of those [workload management features], it’s important to understand how the system is being used, and not to guess which applications are competing for which resources," he points out. "We’ve combined those workload management capabilities and the existing system monitoring capabilities that we already provide and integrated them with [Appfluent’s] application monitoring capabilities. Now we can provide some extensive insights into how the warehouse is being used. We even provide the ability to immediately see the impact of individual applications and users on the system -- when are they needing the data, what data are they accessing and using."