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Frequently Asked Questions OPEN/DB
OPEN/DB
1. Where does the OPEN/DB reporting system fit into my MIS strategy? Is it for Production type reporting, Ad hoc type reporting or MIS/EIS type reporting?

2. The Momentum reporting system consists of OPEN/DB, Jacana and Valet. How do these different components fit together?

3. Who will use Momentum's OPEN/DB-Jacana-Valet reporting system?

4. What benefits are provided by OPEN/DB’s Information Interface?

5. Does OPEN/DB provide adequate security over access to sensitive data?

6. What impact is Momentum's OPEN/DB-Jacana-Valet reporting system likely to have on machine performance?

7. Does the Momentum system have any advantages over a PC based reporting tool?

8. Does OPEN/DB integrate with Word Processing, Spreadsheet and Database packages?

9. How much training is required to implement OPEN/DB, Jacana and Valet?

10. What are the configuration prerequisites of OPEN/DB, Jacana and Valet?

 

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1. Where does the OPEN/DB reporting system fit into my MIS strategy? Is it for Production type reporting, Ad hoc type reporting or MIS/EIS type reporting?

OPEN/DB fulfils a variety of iSeries reporting and data access requirements for business and technical users alike. Capable of addressing the whole range of reporting challenges from the simple to very sophisticated -- creating iSeries files for additional processing; creating PC download files for use with PC spreadsheet, graphics and OLAP packages; preparing performance comparisons; producing spreadsheet-like or matrix style reporting; sharpening audit controls; or producing exception reporting. Reporting developed in OPEN/DB is also much easier to modify to meet changing business requirements. Whatever your output need OPEN/DB can have a tactical or strategic role to play in the portfolio of tools used in your enterprise-wide reporting plans.

 

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2. The Momentum reporting system consists of OPEN/DB, Jacana and Valet. How do these different components fit together?

The Momentum reporting system comprises three integrated components OPEN/DB, Jacana and Valet. Operating in a client-server combination they take full advantage of both the PC and iSeries environments. Jacana and Valet reside on the PC client handling the design and running of reports. OPEN/DB on the iSeries server handles the important issues of data access, performance and resource management.

Perhaps the most important part of the solution is the Information Interface in OPEN/DB which stores the content, structure and inter-relationships of the database files. Field descriptions can be modified to make fields more meaningful to users and derived fields can be introduced to ensure consistency of calculations saving users from having to build complex expressions during report definition.

With the Information Interface as a transparent helpmate, report design becomes simple, since the user is presented with a list of authorized fields. There is no longer any need to worry about the underlying complexities of the database structure, files, keys or field names.

With Jacana the user receives further help in the form of ReportWizards which offer a series of ‘question & answer’ screens to automate report definition and layout creation. Jacana’s WYSIWYG approach ensures the user can see the report layout as it evolves.

Valet simplifies desktop management for the running of the reports. Creation of icons for fast identification and click-on activation of report production of a single or suite of reports can be ideal for periodic or ‘ad hoc’ reporting.

 

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3. Who will use Momentum's OPEN/DB-Jacana-Valet reporting system?

Since OPEN/DB can be taught an application’s database design, report writing in Jacana can be easily handled by users; marketing executives, accountants, warehouse managers and others needing access to information, who otherwise would have difficulty navigating highly normalised iSeries databases and continue to rely on IS for report development.

This reporting system is therefore equally suited to IS professionals and business users.

 

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4. What benefits are provided by OPEN/DB's Information Interface?

OPEN/DB’s Information Interface is the system’s ‘engine room’. It contains the following components:

  • Retrieval map - a representation of the data relationships in a ‘subset’ of the database
  • Data dictionary - a complete list of the fields with definitions included in the subset
  • Skeleton logic - automatically generated program code necessary to access the files in the subset
  • User views - collections of fields reflecting information for specific users or purposes

The Information Interface only uses existing access paths when reading the database - no new join files or access paths are created. For each report only the files that are needed for the report are included in the generated program ... not all the files represented in the ‘subset’.

For IS this ensures:

  • File linking / joining is done properly
  • Performance is optimized by eliminating inefficient joins
  • No user creation or recreation of resource hungry joins
  • Efficient processing and selection of data from large complex databases

For the end user:

  • Fields are described in more user friendly terms, translating / masking IS terminology
  • Macros and extra logic can be applied to fields to simplify date or currency conversion for data selection, sorting, output or other purposes
  • Derived fields can be added for frequently used calculations or data manipulation
  • The number of tables/files and even fields available to each user can be limited

 

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5. Does OPEN/DB provide adequate security over access to sensitive data?

OPEN/DB is a data access and retrieval tool. Corporate data cannot be modified or removed in any way using standard OPEN/DB functions. OPEN/DB builds on existing iSeries security providing additional levels of security to protect data from unauthorized access. Security controls can be applied to restrict users in a variety of ways:

  • Allowed processing modes -- interactive, batch, night or data queue
  • Allocation of a specific output queue and library
  • Limiting production runs for maximum run times and records selected / read
  • Most importantly, access rights (e.g. to read, add, change, delete) to OPEN/DB objects (e.g. subsets, fields, reports, macros) can restrict use of an object in a particular way
  • OPEN/DB’s userview concept presents only the collection of fields required by an individual user or department group

In summary, there are a comprehensive range of security features which can be employed to protect sensitive data to the level of individual fields, functions and reports on a group on individual user basis.

 

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6. What impact is Momentum's OPEN/DB-Jacana-Valet reporting system likely to have on machine performance?

OPEN/DB produces compiled RPG programs to ensure efficient performance.

Reports only require compilation when they are first produced or when they are amended. The authority to compile or job queue for compilation can be controlled for each user by the OPEN/DB administrator.

Reports which allow variable selection criteria to be entered when the report is run do not require re-compilation each time they are used.

With Jacana, all report design can be accomplished off-line, thereby minimising the workload on the server. The reports can then be uploaded and compiled on the iSeries server whenever convenient.

 

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7. Does the Momentum system have any advantages over a PC based reporting tool?

When comparing PC based solutions to an iSeries based product such as OPEN/DB, there are a number of factors which should be considered. A lot will depend on what your organisation is attempting to achieve --- the circumstances may justify the use of both OPEN/DB and PC-based reporting facilities.

Particular strengths of the OPEN/DB solution include:

Database Access
As databases have become more sophisticated and more "normalised" (containing hundreds of files for any particular application area) it has become ever more difficult for users to understand either the intricacies of how and where in the database to go to obtain the related data required to create their management reports, or the optimum ‘technical’ way to accomplish file linkages. Through the Information Interface OPEN/DB provides the ability to establish the data relationships for the most complex database into data subsets ... a task performed just once. This means report designers are not faced with having to define file relationships, interpret field usage or produce complex expressions during report creation. The complex technical tasks can all be handled in the Information Interface.

The Information Interface provides a Data Dictionary where standard field descriptions can be modified before presentation to end users. This can be especially useful where a complex database has many fields referenced as "date", "value" or "indicator" without a clear indication of what they represent.

Another capability of the Information Interface is to internally handle fields in a format suitable to the action required. For example, OPEN/DB can take care of a date field so that the field is automatically converted into the format appropriate for printing, sorting or selection e.g. DD/MMM/YY for printing, YYMMDD for range selection and sorting and YYDDD for calculations.

Additionally, derived fields can be introduced, allowing the creation of new fields to compensate for deficiencies or their absence in the original database. These new fields can be the result of calculations and/or logic fields from one or more files in the database.

Security
PC products do not typically provide an acceptable level of security to data access and to the reports and data extracts created.

OPEN/DB's integrated security system is a mandatory requirement for protecting sensitive information.

Performance and Data Volumes
PC products that access iSeries databases using SQL and ODBC drivers are usually quite slow, especially when reading files with many thousands or millions of records. The impact of this can be twofold ... the building of large temporary files on the iSeries plus SQL's reluctance to relinquish machine resources once it is active.

OPEN/DB creates compiled programs to ensure efficient usage of iSeries machine resources and complete control over when the objects are run.

OPEN/DB works on the iSeries and is able to produce reports or data extracts that process large volumes of data efficiently.

Housekeeping and Monitoring of Use
Within OPEN/DB, information concerning every report that is created and used in a production or test environment is captured. At any time the IS department has the ability to produce comprehensive listings with details of reports created, report run times, frequency of use and date and time when last produced.

This can then be linked with the housekeeping facility to allow deletion and reorganisation of all report and extract formats created by OPEN/DB users. OPEN/DB reports can be restricted to run at specific times of day, so that iSeries machine loads can be "smoothed".

In summary, typical PC Report Writer constraints in accessing iSeries databases include:

  • Handling and processing large volumes of data
  • Accessing large complex relational databases
  • Decoding data
  • Summarizing data from multiple files
  • Creating derived fields from different files
  • Applying security
  • Requirement for technical knowledge of the database and SQL

 

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8. Does OPEN/DB integrate with Word Processing, Spreadsheet and Database packages?

OPEN/DB can create PC file output for download to a wide range of PC applications. Data extracted and summarised from the database is loaded into iSeries folders in PC file formats specified. Extended file formats include CSV, DBF, SLK, TXT, XLK,PRN, SAM, RTF and others.

Using OPEN/DB for this task has a number of advantages:

  • Leverages the investment in the Information Interface ... the derived fields created, extra logic applied, the use of any macros (e.g. for date conversion)
  • Enables multiple files to be linked together without user intervention ... and prevents inadvertent performance degradation of production machines
  • Ensures security over sensitive information
  • Minimizes the risk of losing data, since the PC file in an iSeries folder can be backed up as part of the normal iSeries backup procedures.
  • Overcomes the constraint of files being too large for the PC applications ... i.e. summarize and select the data on the iSeries
  • Allows the output folder paths and files to be managed

 

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9. How much training is required to implement OPEN/DB, Jacana and Valet successfully?

The Momentum reporting system is designed as an enterprise-wide report writer and therefore is capable of producing the range of reporting from the very simple to the incredibly sophisticated. This robustness may be perceived as complexity with the inherent risk that the product is seen as ‘too difficult’. We therefore take care to promote adequate training. IS training (2-3 days) is needed to understand the ‘best practice’ approach to establishing the Information Interface and implementing security, administration procedures and Valet. Report Designers’s confidence and productivity will benefit from a hands-on introduction to Jacana (1 day).

The product is supplied with a full set of manuals. While the product can be self-taught it is strongly recommended that an organisation invests in training to maximise productive use.

 

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10. What are the configuration prerequisites of OPEN/DB, Jacana and Valet?

OPEN/DB (server) on the iSeries

iSeries requirements:

  • RPG compiler for report program creation
  • V4R2M0 or later of OS/400
  • 170mb disk space for standard install, up to 250mb disk space for DBCS support
  • Client Access for iSeries V4R2M0 or later (if not using TCP/IP)

Jacana and Valet on the PC

PC hardware requirements (minimum):

  • Pentium processor
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 8 MB disk space for each product
  • additional disk space for saving report definitions locally
  • communication adaptor connecting the PC to the iSeries
    e.g. twinax, Ethernet or token ring, modem connection under the client access router, or TCP/IP.

PC software requirements (minimum):

  • Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000 or later
  • Client Access for iSeries (if not using TCP/IP)

 

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