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Your Questions Answered
- DataNovata vs Business Intelligence Tools
- Specialised Archive Solutions and Analytical Databases
- DataNovata vs Hand-written SQL
DataNovata vs Business Intelligence Tools
We already have Business Objects/Cognos (or some other BI tool) – why can’t I just use that?
DataNovata is not a Business Intelligence tool. BI tools – such as Business Objects or Cognos – are not designed to take a logical view of a database, as an application would. These tools exist to provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations in order to support business decisions (hence the term Decision Support software which is sometimes used).
BI tools are designed to trawl through vast amounts of data – typically held in a Data Warehouse – and analyse it to support business decisions. For performance reasons, data which is intended to be used in this way is sometimes summarised as it is stored on the database.
Analytical databases may remove the need to summarise the data as they are designed for very fast retrieval. But even if all the detailed information is retained, analytical databases do not maintain any of the original data relationships so they cannot support logical database views.
DataNovata is designed to interrogate and navigate data at a detailed level, and is therefore conceptually quite different from BI tools. Unless the necessary level of detail has been lost because the data has already been summarised for performance reasons, the same data can usually be used logically by DataNovata and for Decision Support purposes by BI tools.
In the case of analytical databases, DataNovata contains an interactive tool to help restore the original data relationships. To avoid interfering with the analytical database’s other functions, DataNovata hold this information separately on a database of its own.
DataNovata and BI tools are therefore complementary rather than competitive.
Specialised Archive Solution and Analytical Databases
We are going to use a Specialised Archive Solution or an Analytical Database – surely I won’t need anything else?
Analytical databases are designed for very fast retrieval by Business Intelligence tools, so that the data may not need to be reduced to summary level to achieve reasonable performance. Well-known suppliers of analytical databases include Kognitio, Clearpace and Sand Technologies. These databases do not hold any of the logical relationships used by the original application. They may also specialise in the ability to compress the data for storage, or the representation of data in non-proprietary XML.
DataNovata contains an interactive Data Structuring tool to suggest and test such relationships, which allows the user to quickly re-establish the original logical database view. These relationships are stored separately and are used by DataNovata without compromising the analytical nature of the database, allowing the full power of DataNovata to be deployed.
Specialised Archive Solutions
Specialised Archive Solutions sometimes use analytical databases but in general terms they provide archive solutions for well-known “premium” IT products such as SAP, Oracle E-Business, Siebel etc. as well as extending to other products – including bespoke – and to total lifecycle management. Major players in this area include Optim (from IBM) and Informatica. Some also extend their abilities to include “legacy” systems, i.e. those without an existing relational database.
Generally, neither specialised database vendors nor archive solution companies offer any means of retrieving the data. The intention is to store data such that it can be retrieved by some means, but the method chosen is left to the customer.
DataNovata can work with any structured database. NSC – the company behind DataNovata – has extensive data migration skills but if the data is already in an appropriate format so much the better.
DataNovata vs Hand-written SQL
We have SQL skills – surely we can just write whatever SQL we need?
The arguments in favour of an off-the-shelf solution rather than a bespoke one are much the same as they always are.
SQL Queries can, of course, be created manually against any structured relational database. SQL is the standard way to access modern databases and all products - including DataNovata – use it.
DataNovata generates every possible view for you, in a matter of minutes – and if the generated views need additional tailoring, DataNovata has many features which facilitate this for the developer and the end user.
By contrast, with manually-written SQL each view has to be created individually. As the creation of every possible view by this means is likely to prove impractical, the manual SQL approach relies on the user knowing in advance what the required views are. It also relies on the fact that this will not change, otherwise the SQL writer (who may well work for a different part of the company, and/or be unavailable) would need to be reengaged to create more SQL.
Establishing user requirements which are not subject to future revision is one of the most difficult aspects of any project.
There may be additional problems establishing appropriate levels of data security, whereas DataNovata already contains built-in facilities to address such requirements.
So why hand-write SQL to create your own database enquiry system when DataNovata does it all for you?