IBM Corp has launched a three-tier combined software and middleware layer for analyzing data stored in a data warehouse. Sitting on Intel-based hardware running OS/2, the Intelligent Decision Server costs $20,000 for the lowest entry-level model. According to IBM, it will enable thousands of users to simultaneously perform data analysis tasks and applications. Large scale data analysis needs to be available to thousands of users across each individual company, rather than limit the benefits to a finite number of users, which, until now, had been the norm, said IBM. According to the company’s product manager for business intelligent software, Brant Davison, the three-tier architecture that IBM is so proud of, makes this flexibility possible. It is a departure from traditional two-tier client-to- database data analysis, by the inclusion of the server hardware which the Decision Server runs from. This third tier means multiple client sources can be used to implement analysis of the data, including web browsers, Lotus Notes clients and ODBC open database connectivity clients. IBM also stressed that there is similar flexibility and openness at the datawarehouse level, with the enabling of simultaneous access to, among others, DB2, Sybase and Oracle databases. The benefits of this openness seems to end, however, with the choice of server hardware, with IBM saying that OS/2 will be the only operating system the package can use for at least a year. This effectively limits the benefits that are made available by Decision Server to companies that want to invest in an OS/2 server, but according to Brant Davison, this was not the primary motive behind the new package. Will it drive additional OS/2 sales? Yes. We’re happy about that benefit, he said. What the company is more excited about, and what could possibly introduce true openness to the data analysis/datawarehouse market however, is the introduction of Java capability to Decision Server, and IBM said it expected that facility to be available in about 12 months time. Davison said introducing Java capability for Decison Server would be more efficient than individually porting it to the multitude of other operating systems.