Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Clouds ahead: Playing with DB2 and Cognos (FREE)

By now everybody should have heard about IBM BLU Acceleration for Cloud. The tagline is "Data Warehousing and Analytics for Everyone" which caught my eye. So this morning I wanted to find out how easy it is to get started. My conclusion: Almost too easy for an IBM product... ;-)

First you have to visit the official BLU for Cloud website at http://bluforcloud.com/. There you click on the button "Try BLU Acceleration now" and you are taken to an overview of currently four different usage plans. The plan I chose is the free trial plan which is hosted on SoftLayer, but there are also metered plans available on SoftLayer or Amazon WebServices (AWS), and a managed service on IBM BlueMix.

After signing up by providing my Google ID (or alternatively name and email address), I was provided with my new account information within seconds and the system stated that everything was ready to go:
BLU Cloud account created successfully
After clicking on the "Start BLU Acceleration" link as shown in the screenshot above, the web-based managed console came up. It allows working with DB2 database objects, to query and analyze the data, and to run reports against the two sample databases. Of course you can upload your own data and try some of the analytic tools on them. My interest was Cognos and I tried the drill down reports:
Cognos drill down in BLU Cloud
In the graphical report based on the sample database you can click on the regions, product categories, etc. and then continue to subcategories and subregions ("drill down"). Of course you could try out Cognos or Industry Models with your own data.

What I did next is to explore how well the Cloud offering integrates with my local tools. So I opened a local shell on my Linux-based ThinkPad and launched the DB2 command line processor. First I added the Cloud-based DB2 server to my local directory using the CATALOG TCPIP NODE command. Next was to add the remote database using CATALOG DATABASE. Last I connected to the database providing the username and, when prompted, the password. Yeah, connected! That was easy!

Catalog the Cloud-based DB2 server and database on local machine
From start to finish it took me about 5 minutes for the signup process, logging into the Cloud service and adding the remote DB2 server to my local system. Have you tried it? It is free and fun. And I can tell my boss that I know my way around in the Cloud.

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