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Unlocking insights through integrated business intelligence By: Joanna Schloss

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To help organizations translate raw data into actionable information, the Dell™ Toad™ Business Intelligence Suite combines streamlined data access to traditional and nontraditional sources with …

To help organizations translate raw data into actionable information, the Dell™ Toad™ Business Intelligence Suite combines streamlined data access to traditional and nontraditional sources with powerful, easy-to-use query and analysis tools.

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  • 1. 10 2013 Issue 02 | dell.com/powersolutionsBusiness intelligenceSpecialsectionReprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.Organizations are collecting more data than everbefore from a rapidly expanding variety of traditionaland nontraditional sources, spanning relationaldatabase management systems (RDBMSs) such asthe Microsoft® SQL Server® and Oracle® platforms, cloud-basedapplications such as Salesforce.com, unstructured databases suchas Apache™ Hadoop™ clusters and social media sources such asFacebook and Twitter.Although this data has the potential to create tremendousvalue and boundless competitive advantages, organizations mayfind it challenging to extract useful intelligence from such a wideand variable array of sources. Many organizations deploy businessintelligence (BI) tools that use data stored in a data warehouseto provide a standardized view of the data. Although IT-centricBI tools are typically designed to ensure that organizational datameets governance, security and compliance requirements, line-of-business users may face a steep learning curve to extract theinformation they need. Also, IT-centric tools may lack the flexibilityto adapt to nontraditional data sources.To meet immediate data access or BI needs, business usersoften procure, deploy and adopt their own departmental tools.To help organizations translate raw data into actionable information, the Dell™ Toad™Business Intelligence Suite combines streamlined data access to traditional andnontraditional sources with powerful, easy-to-use query and analysis tools.By Joanna SchlossUnlocking insights through integratedbusiness intelligenceEnhanceddecision makingSee how the Toad Business Intelligence Suiteenables business analysts to improve decisionmaking. The suite boosts productivity byempowering both technical and nontechnicalusers to easily access the data they need,when they need it.quest.com/intoadvention
  • 2. dell.com/powersolutions | 2013 Issue 02 11Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.These self-service BI tools may providean easy-to-use reporting and analysisenvironment that helps business usersmake informed decisions. At the sametime, ad hoc tool deployments create aburden on IT resources to manage andmaintain, as well as to deliver the requireddata. For example, because of the timeand effort needed to extract, process anddeliver data, IT may not be able to refreshthe data in a timely fashion.Through its recent acquisition of QuestSoftware, Dell offers the Toad BusinessIntelligence Suite, which introduces next-generation BI capabilities that help businessusers quickly and efficiently navigate dataaccess, integration and analysis tasks.Using the Toad Business Intelligence Suite,organizations can gain valuable insights intocustomers, processes, opportunities andchallenges. Powerful analytic capabilitiesof the Toad Business Intelligence Suite —combined with its data-agnostic, virtualanalytic architecture — help organizationsenhance operational efficiency and minimizetotal cost of ownership (TCO) while enforcingcorporate standards and governance. (Formore information, see the sidebar, “Case inpoint: Self-service business intelligence.”)Streamlining delivery of BI dataFor many data provisioners, delivering datato business analysts can be a cumbersome,manual, multistep process. First, datais extracted from individual sources —such as customer data from a cloudapplication, order data from an enterprisedatabase application and historical datafrom a data warehouse — and then itis combined manually. Next, manualdata cleansing and other preparatoryprocedures are performed to help ensurethat data complies with organizationalgovernance requirements. Data then ispackaged in an analyst-friendly format,such as a Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheet,and forwarded to the business analyst.Relying on such manual processes is slow,inefficient and error-prone — leading toinaccuracies and inconsistencies.The Toad Business Intelligence Suite is anintegrated, unified solution that streamlinesthe process of accessing traditional andemerging data sources, as well as analyzingand visualizing data (see figure). Commonuser-specific interfaces enable both line-of-business and IT users to work in familiarviews and securely access data from a varietyof sources. In addition, the suite providespowerful tools that help data provisionersquickly prepare and share governed contentwith business analysts. Also, the suite’s toolsets enable business users to connect easilyto their required data sources — extractingvaluable intelligence from that datawithout compromising IT standards. Thesuite comprises three components: ToadIntelligence Central, Toad Data Point andToad Decision Point.Creating a virtual analytic data layerAt the heart of the Toad Business IntelligenceSuite is Toad Intelligence Central, aBig data: Cloud and NoSQLsources, Salesforce.com, HadoopCorporate BI layers:Oracle Business Intelligence SuiteEnterprise Edition, SAP®BusinessObjects, Microsoft cubesExcel spreadsheetsTraditional RDBMS:Oracle Database,Microsoft SQL Server, MySQLToad IntelligenceCentralToad Decision Point:Graphical user interfacefor business usersToad Data Point:SQL interfacefor technical usersThe Toad Business Intelligence Suite offers business analysts and data provisioners direct access to toolsthat streamline daily activities.
  • 3. Business intelligenceSpecialsectionReprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.12 2013 Issue 02 | dell.com/powersolutionsCase in point: Self-servicebusiness intelligenceThe Portland, Oregon, branch of Concordia University serves more than 3,000students. This private liberal arts school has a four-person business-intelligence(BI) department responsible for supporting 200 faculty and full-time staff.The university’s ongoing need to extract meaningful information frommultiple databases and diverse data sources created a bottleneck for the BI team.Additionally, the BI team was tasked to work with an outside vendor in supportof university efforts to recruit online students and faculty. The vendor requiredaccess, analysis and provisioning of data for online students, which was notreadily available. Equally problematic was providing other external contractorsand internal teams with access to relevant data sources for producing a variety ofreports and analysis.After evaluating traditional BI solutions, Director of Business IntelligenceRebekah Anderson found them incapable of connecting multiple data sourceseasily, as well as lacking the desired intuitive interface. Anderson turned to the ToadBusiness Intelligence Suite to help the university’s ecosystem of recruiting partner,outside contractors and internal staff get the most from existing information.The Toad Business Intelligence Suite lets Concordia offer the right tool to theright user, which helps improve productivity for both technical and nontechnicalusers while adhering to governance requirements. The suite also provides a BItool that connects to diverse data sources, including the university’s Banner®system by Ellucian, MySQL-based customer relationship management system,Blackboard Analytics™ data warehouse and Salesforce.com® application.“Toad BI had everything I was looking for in a self-service BI tool,” saysAnderson. “For the more-technical data consumers, I enable them to provisiondata, make changes and run reports on demand. For the less-technical businessconsumers, it’s super easy for them to browse and visualize data without havingthe ability to make changes. With Toad BI, I have a single solution for everythingthat comes up.”powerful, virtual analytic layer designedto integrate easily with existing ITinfrastructures. This integration enablesorganizations to simply and securely createa single, current, consistent view of thedata. Toad Intelligence Central connectsto a wide range of data sources, includingRDBMSs, big data, cloud-based data anddepartmental Microsoft Excel spreadsheetsor Microsoft® Access® database data marts,as well as existing BI deployments.Toad Intelligence Central featuresan easy-to-use interface that facilitatesthe creation of data sets, data views andsnapshots. Data views are queries thatare run and cached in memory, enablingclient tools to interact directly with cachedcontent. Snapshots are queries that areperformed on demand for a real-timeview of the data. Organizations candecide which types of queries are mostappropriate for the situation. For example,data that is relatively static can be persistedin Toad Intelligence Central while otherdata may require real-time extraction forgreat accuracy.Because Toad Intelligence Centralutilizes a fast, in-memory, virtual analyticlayer, extensive data sets can be createdwhile avoiding the proliferation of datamarts. Also, Toad Intelligence Central iseasy to deploy and is optimized to deliveroutstanding performance. Data setscreated through Toad IntelligenceCentral are designed to be accessedand manipulated through the powerfulToad Data Point and Toad DecisionPoint analysis tools, which facilitatequerying, analysis, reporting and sharing.Empowering provisioners to deliverconsistent, governed dataGetting the right data set to the rightbusiness analyst at the right time is anessential function for data provisioners.To achieve this goal, data provisionerstypically must access multiple datasources, integrate the data correctly
  • 4. Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved. dell.com/powersolutions | 2013 Issue 02 13and deliver the data to the appropriatestakeholders in a timely manner. Thisprocess often requires knowledge ofseveral different systems and dependson having the appropriate access to thedesired data sources.To easily connect, join, transform andprovision data, provisioners can use thecross-platform query and data integrationcapabilities of Toad Data Point. The toolis designed to provide a streamlinedand automated way to accomplish tasksassociated with accessing, integrating andprovisioning data. Toad Data Point featuresa robust analysis graphical user interfacethat facilitates data manipulation, includingadvanced querying, data reconciliation andother data massaging tasks (see figure).Toad Data Point provides a unified interface that enables data provisioners to manipulate traditional andnontraditional data sources.Accelerating the return on investmentin end-to-end information managementThe intensifying volume, variety andvelocity of data flowing into and acrossenterprise networks is evolving businessanalytics and business intelligence (BI)strategies. But as the torrent swells,the prospect of deriving value quicklyand cost-effectively from all this databecomes ever more challenging. Toexpedite the process, IT leaders seekbest practices, systems and solutionsthat streamline lengthy and labor-intensive information managementprojects without costly replacements ofprior enterprise investments.Part of the Dell Software InformationManagement portfolio, the Dell ToadBusiness Intelligence Suite helpsbridge the gap between IT analysts andbusiness analysts. The Toad BusinessIntelligence Suite is designed to respectand accommodate the requirements ofenterprise compliance and governancemandates. In a single solution, theToad Business Intelligence Suite allowsorganizations to develop, build andmanage a business analytics frameworkthat meets the needs of both IT and line-of-business users while coexisting withestablished enterprise BI deployments.In addition to the Toad BusinessIntelligence Suite, Dell Software provides acomprehensive tool chain to help simplifyend-to-end information management.The tool chain addresses the needs oftoday’s surging data landscape througha diverse range of capabilities:• Toad productivity software formanaging environments that supporttraditional data sources• Turnkey appliances that providetremendous efficiency throughthe convergence of hardware,software and services that areoptimized for fast return oninvestment (ROI) and low totalcost of ownership (TCO)• On-site and in-the-cloud dataintegration or replication thatenables data movement to meetthe needs of business analysis andperformance management• Big data analytics to separatethe signal from the noise in themountains of data being generatedby myriad systemsThe Dell Software InformationManagement portfolio provides boththe breadth and the depth of solutionsthat enable organizations to advancebeyond static enterprise reporting todynamic business analytics and insight —while complying with governancerequirements and integrating withexisting BI investments.
  • 5. 14 2013 Issue 02 | dell.com/powersolutionsBusiness intelligenceSpecialsectionReprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 2. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.Through the virtual analytic layerenabled by Toad Intelligence Central, ToadData Point can access data from traditionaland nontraditional sources in a secure,consistent and timely fashion. Toad DataPoint also includes an automation enginethat allows provisioners to specify andautomate routine tasks. These capabilitiescontribute to dramatic efficiencyimprovements that could potentiallyenable individual provisioners to supportthousands of analyst stakeholders easilyand efficiently. Once data is provisioned,it can be shared through Toad IntelligenceCentral so other users may analyze andcollaborate with the data set.Providing rich functionalityfor business analystsIn many organizations, business analysts arerequired to access data through difficult-to-use, inflexible BI tools. They struggle withlimited access to sanctioned data sources,which may not be current. They also needan easy way of turning query results into thereports or visualizations that they send tobusiness stakeholders for taking important,urgent actions. Also, to derive the mostvalue from the data, analysts may need toapply advanced techniques using differenttools and a variety of skill sets. This analysisprocess is typically iterative in nature,requiring high levels of data integrity andanalytical consistency.Toad Decision Point combines the richfunctionality of a robust analytics tool withup-to-date access to a wide variety of datasources. These capabilities enable businessanalysts to excel in their job functionswithout affecting security and governancestandards. Toad Decision Point features anintuitive interface that allows business usersto explore, analyze and present data andresults without extensive specialized training(see figure).Through Toad Intelligence Central,Toad Decision Point supports secure,real-time access to both traditional andnontraditional data sources. Analysisresults can be represented easily throughtabular, dimensional and graphicalviews and then readily shared with otherstakeholders in the organization. Easy tolearn and easy to use, Toad Decision Pointempowers business analysts to delivervalue quickly while minimizing ITsupport requirements.Informing decision makerswith quick, efficient analysisIn today’s IT environment of expandingdata volumes, organizations arelooking to gather valuable insights andintelligence from myriad sources withoutcompromising security and governancerequirements. (For more information, seethe sidebar, “Accelerating the return oninvestment in end-to-end informationmanagement.”) Through easy-to-useprovisioning and analysis capabilitiesthat are supported by a flexible virtualanalytic layer, the Toad BusinessIntelligence Suite bridges the gapbetween analysts and the data theyneed — enabling enterprises to turn rawdata into actionable information andopportunities into reality.AuthorJoanna Schloss works in the Dell Software Groupas a business intelligence and big data subject-matter expert and evangelist, contributing strategiccontent to the Dell Information ManagementCenter of Excellence.Learn moreBusiness analytics/business intelligence:quest.com/UnlockBIToad Business Intelligence Suite:quest.com/ToadBISuiteToad Decision Point facilitates self-service data integration for business analysts.