IBM i and big data

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Big data may sound like a buzzword devoid of meaning, but it refers to some important concepts that are increasingly relevant to organizations, such as how to efficiently deal with the growing amount of information that pass through their networks. There’s signal to be unlocked in all the noise.

“Let’s say I’m looking at set of sales transactions completed over the past year, and I have five million of them sitting in the data warehouse,” stated Zilliant general manager Barrett Thompson, according to InformationWeek contributor Jeff Bertolucci. “What I have captured in that data, what I have to find a way to unlock, is the distilled wisdom and experience of five hundred salespeople who encountered tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of unique selling circumstances.”

Today’s IT environments are a lot different than ones from just a decade ago. Whereas companies may have once relied on just a few PCs and a server room or two, now they have to account for a host of new IP-enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets and embedded sensors, all of which routinely access important corporate data while generating more of it themselves.

Despite the significant changes in the past few years, some older aspects of IT are still with us. For instance, mainframes are still mainstays of many operations, with businesses relying on IBM i to support critical applications and workflows. Dealing with big data requires a plan for collecting, processing, storing and retrieving items so that personnel are not overwhelmed by the onrush of new information.

Big data and IBM i: Getting the most of files and infrastructure
IBM i systems have important places within current IT setups, providing the performance and security needed for ensuring that tasks are completed on schedule. However, turning the massive amounts of data from IBM i machines alone into actionable, easily accessed assets isn’t always straightforward.

Initially designed in the late 1980s, IBM i long predates technologies such as modern Web browsers and mobile devices. So how can systems administrators see to it that IBM i remains an important part of their environments?

The first step is to find a solution that provides rapid access to data from any endpoint. Rather than having to deal first and foremost with a legacy interface, users can instead pull up the assets in a more intuitive way. A cutting-edge business intelligence and analytics tool for IBM i might include:

  • Support for local and remote System i servers, along with MySQL and other popular platforms.
  • Dashboard views that display IBM i data on an easy-to-read desktop. Users can drill down to find out more.
  • Color-coding/other graphical elements for highlighting selected business metrics.
  • Fast, secure access to System i data from a Web browser. DB2 data can also be re-formatted with XML and XSL.

Overall, getting the most out of big data with IBM i requires a solution that is built for today’s IT environments, with support for access from different endpoints as well as reliable ways to generate and reuse metrics. Big data is a relatively new IT trend, but enterprises can already get started remaking their IBM i systems for new realities.


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