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March 26, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:13pm


By CBR Staff Writer

IBM Corp may have a stranglehold on the AS/400 database market – DB2/400 is bundled and no other relational databases are supported – but ShowCase Corp, headquartered in the AS/400 heartland of Rochester, Minnesota, reckons there’s still a buck to be made from putting data warehouse technology up on the platform, with IBM’s blessing of course. ShowCase is beefing up its offering with a suite of Strategy Distributor tools it says manage the cleansing, summarization and copying of data from OLTP systems into data warehouse and marts. It already offers Strategy Server, Query, Report Writer, Essbase/400 and Analyzer. Distributor appears to do much of the work of what could require three or four point products in the Unix data warehouse space. The tools copy data to the warehouse, load multidimensional databases – ShowCase is the exclusive distributor of Arbor Software Corp’s Essbase database on the AS/400, though IBM will sell the DB2 OLAP Server implementation of Essbase tools on DB2 – cleanses the data, stamps the data at transfer time and tracks transaction histories. There are a handful of other custom multidimensional databases which have been developed to slice and dice data from AS/400 data warehouses, and Pilot Software Inc’s Analysis Server is due up on the platform soon. Prices start at $15,000 and ShowCase will put the tools up on other DB2 implementations and make them available for non-IBM database too. Privately-held ShowCase reckons it will do $20m on AS/400 data warehousing this year and hopes to grow to $30m in 1998. It has 175 employees and claims 7,000 seats. It also offers AS/400-to-NT data integration services, and AS/400 ODBC driver and AS/400 meta data administration. ShowCase has sliced and diced market research numbers and estimates that 23% of the 80,000 AS/400 customers (with 400,000 AS/400s between them) expect to be developing data warehouse or business intelligence systems next year. That’s 18,400 potential customers. 23% are supposedly looking at spending $250,000 or more on their projects – that’s 4,232 customers doing high-end work. With the average software cost estimated to be in the region of $150,000, a potential market opportunity of $634m. The company says the majority of its business so far has come from failed Windows NT warehouses; companies that bought cheap NT systems but quickly found out that they couldn’t scale the things to accommodate data warehouses. Because there are good links between AS/400 and NT – and ShowCase sells one of them – it’s proven a useful migration path for users with NT-based data sets on their hands. It’s also had users migrating from OS/2 and counts one NCR Corp Teradata replacement. It’s focused on retail and manufacturing industries. While data warehousing is a perfect one-stop-shop opportunity for suppliers to the locked-in DB2/400 community, interestingly it’s also a trend observed in the open systems space by Meta Group. It notes that the data transformation (or scrubbing) engine camp – firms like Informatica and Sagent – are merging with the code generation camp companies such as Prism Solutions, ETI, Carleton. For datamarts IBM has partnered with ETI and Sybase, while Prism’s shacked-up with Sagent. It believes the market’s dividing up in integrated vendor solutions such as those above, plus companies such as SAS; vertical specialists such as VMark, D2K and Fiserv; as well a technical niche tool providers such as Smart Corp, Constellar (formerly SQL Group), Informatica and Showcase.

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