IBM announced the next generation of our InfoSphere Information Server technology, version 8.5, which was released last week. The new technology represents significant advances from the prior generation, and changes how organizations design, develop, and deliver integrated information. The new software introduces new collaboration tools for business and IT staff that accelerate data integration projects and provide a foundation for greater business trust in information.
Organizations typically have data spread across many systems. In order to pull it together to get a comprehensive view for initiatives like business intelligence and business analytics, they must find a way to integrate the data from across these systems. This is often one of the most challenging and time-consuming parts of any project because it involves rationalizing the technical variations in the data across systems and aligning the data to the needs of the business. InfoSphere Information Server 8.5 helps to shortcut those challenges with tools that automate and accelerate the integration process, align the data to the business need, and streamline the delivery of information across the organization.
The new release of InfoSphere Information Server revolutionizes the process of providing integrated, trusted information. It does this with four new capabilities:
- New design tools to visualize and automate integration programming
- New collaboration tools that align information to business needs
- New team development tools that support the needs of large data integration teams
- New capabilities for reliable streamlined delivery of information
New Design Tools
One of the most complex aspects of integrating data is the process of understanding what data already exists in systems, and figuring out how to pull it together into a complete picture. To assist in this process, new tools are included in InfoSphere Information Server 8.5 that enable teams to visually define and manage the end-to-end flow of information. These tools are provided with best practice blueprints for how to deliver information for key initiatives, including business intelligence. The new tools can automatically discover data in existing systems and facilitate the understanding of how to best integrate that data together, even automatically generating integration code.
For example, when trying to integrate product data across different supply chain systems for inventory analysis, distributors often need to extract inventory and product data into a consolidated data warehouse. The new version of InfoSphere Information Server facilitates this process by providing best practice blueprints for how to design these types of data flows, and by automating the alignment and integration of product and inventory data across systems to populate the data warehouse more quickly.
New Collaboration Tools
In order for information to be useful to the business, it needs to be presented in a way that makes sense to business people, and it needs to exhibit the characteristics necessary for business people to trust it. This is often very challenging, since data is maintained in applications in a way that is optimized for application access rather than business insight, and is often prone to quality issues that erode business trust.
InfoSphere Information Server 8.5 helps facilitate tighter business alignment by providing new tools for collaborating between business and IT on the meaning, quality, and pedigree of information. The new tools enable a consistent understanding of information and trust across the different organizational roles involved in projects, including data modelers, architects, developers, and subject matter experts. They also empower business users to be able to make their own judgments about whether or not they should trust the information they are viewing.
For example, using InfoSphere Information Server 8.5, a risk manager can simply click on a risk metric in any report to see the definition of the metric, the quality levels of the underlying data, and where exactly that data came from. Armed with that insight, decisions can be made on how good the data actually is by business people directly, where previously long IT cycles would have had to be spent to provide this visibility.
New Team Development Tools
Data integration projects often involve participation from many organizational roles. Coordinating the work across these roles is an extremely challenging aspect of any project. InfoSphere Information Server 8.5 introduces new team development tools to facilitate this coordination. The new release includes scalability support for large teams, advanced metadata sharing capabilities across roles, and direct integration with standard source code control systems (SCCS) using the SCCS standard. These new tools enable different organizational roles to share knowledge seamlessly, while ensuring that development artifacts and versions remain synchronized across extended teams.
For example, as business analysts and architects work to design a new data warehouse, their specifications and designs are automatically shared with downstream developers who can use it to guide what they build, and developers can check their data integration code into standard source code control systems to ensure proper version control. The result is improved collaboration across the team, leading to better, more business aligned projects, delivered more quickly and at a lower cost.
Reliable Streamlined Delivery of Information
The last mile of any data integration project is getting the information where it needs to go. This must be done in a way that ensures that data doesn’t get lost in transit, despite overwhelming growth in data volumes. InfoSphere Information Server 8.5 provides critical new capabilities for reliable information delivery, including high availability and failover support, end-to-end transactional integrity for data flows, smooth linear scalability across hardware nodes, and advanced real-time data integration capabilities for Services Oriented Architectures (SOA) and Web 2.0. These capabilities ensure that the right information can be delivered across an enterprise at the right time with a very high degree of reliability.
Results From the Beta Program
IBM conducted an extensive six month Beta program for InfoSphere Information Server 8.5, with participation from over 30 clients and partners.
“IBM InfoSphere Information Server 8.5 has many impressive enhancements. Most beneficial to us are the ease of installation and configuration processes, version control, and improvement to metabrokers and bridges. These improvements will improve our overall efficiency and lower costs,” commented a Lead Architect at a European Banking customer.