By Tim Nicholson
VP, Informer Customer Services
Over its existence, Informer has gone through major evolutionary changes in the areas of data access and management, data governance, and reporting. Informer 3 and Informer 4 did a great job in setting up mappings that allowed users to directly query a production database and pull reports. These earlier versions of Informer sandboxed portions of the system and fields that end users were allowed to see, and they enabled organizations to set up rules for tables that users could query.
However, Informer 3 and 4 faltered by allowing end users to create queries against the production database and pull too much data. These versions also allowed users to query tables in a way that was inefficient and slowed down the system. For example, selecting records within a multi-million row table that contained certain criteria that was not indexed.
Informer 5 Data Access
With Informer 5, we still allow for ad hoc queries against the database, but we’ve taken a huge leap forward by creating Dataset functionality. Because Datasets can be scheduled to automatically refresh on any given frequency, Admins don’t have to worry about users running queries that take all day. A great benefit in using Datasets is they are always going to be fast because they’ve already been indexed.
With Dataset capability, a DBA-type person can create a very large set of data and compartmentalize it with separate views of information that their end users can work with in a very simple and secure way. This eliminates the need to create separate sets of data for each person. This also enables you to establish strong data governance by creating a single Dataset based on your rules which include limiting users to only see portions of the data depending on their role in the organization.
Data access and end-user security are challenges faced by many organizations. However, with the Dataset’s user-based filters, Informer 5 eliminates these challenges by giving you the control and strong data governance you want. For example, when giving access to users, you can set up a filter that restricts the rows that can be seen to only a subset of that data. You can allow users to get into the data and look around, aggregate, make charts and more without worrying that they’re somehow going to backdoor their way into information from another department. Secondary-level access to a Dataset can also be enabled for a class of users who don’t even create reports, they just access data views you’ve set up.
Informer 5 Extensibility and Integration Points
A lot of the restrictions and limitations that are found in enterprise software applications are eliminated when software is designed using:
- extensibility as a priority
- and, an open source technology stack that provides an API structure which offers easy customization and expansion.
Extensibility, defined as the ability to easily make changes in system functionality, is enabled in a safe way within Informer 5 because of the large variety of hooks we programmed on the server-end and the user interface. Other BI companies have probably not gone to the extent we have with hooks in Informer.
Extensibility and integration points might not be at the forefront of buyers’ thinking when searching for a BI tool to purchase directly from a software provider, however, when organizations meet with VARs and integrators to discuss their requirements for a BI solution, extensibility and flexibility are often highlighted as important criteria.
Examples of Informer 5’s extensibility and integration points include:
- You can update records with different information as they move through the system by using Informer 5 Flow extensions which incorporate company-specific ETL logic.
- Data can be pushed into the system via Informer 5’s API. If you have data that you want to track and analyze that’s coming from some other location, you can use our REST API to pull it in and track it. One example is IoT, where connected devices, like sensors, are continuously collecting and streaming information. In this case, you’re collecting data on the fly and you’re not refreshing a Dataset but instead pushing data into it. An adapter can be written that takes that data and channels it into an Informer Dataset dedicated to collecting the sensor data. Then, we can write some code that uses our API to publish the information directly into Informer.
- Informer 5 provides integration touchpoints designed for local deployments. For example, integrate Informer with your LDAP or Active Directory security to do single sign-on.
- Add custom visuals to your dashboards to achieve greater insights. For example, we quickly deployed stadium mapping visuals for a customer, where the arena maps were bound to data pulled from their database. We were able to achieve that in a short amount of time because of Informer 5’s architecture.
- Informer 5 provides collaboration integration that enables you to develop valuable content within Informer and share it across your organization. You can link to reports, visuals, images, and more.
- From the perspective of Entrinsik’s business partners, VARs, and integrators, Informer 5’s extensibility provides many ways to adapt the system within different customer environments. Informer’s user interface and backend can be rebranded and folded into another application and distributed and licensed that way. Informer’s licensing model is also flexible and compatible with how our partners license their app.
In summary, when conducting research into a new Business Intelligence and Data Analytics solution, your organization will benefit tremendously when you select those systems that include:
- indexed Datasets with granular control provided by user-based filters
- extensibility that offers the flexibility and integration you will always want as you look to do more and more with the system.
To learn more about the functionality mentioned here or any other Informer functionality, please contact Informer Support with questions or to schedule training.