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Posted Oct 27, 2003

Heterogeneous Database Environments--A Single Workbench

By Linda Cole

On Tuesday, Quest Software, Inc. will announce the release of the first database management solution for heterogeneous database environments (Oracle, DB2 (UDB and Mainframe) and SQL Server), within a single workbench. Quest Central for Databases minimizes database differences, removes platform barriers, combines domain-specific functionality and full performance management. A built-in Knowledge Base for each database environment, automated tuning and performance diagnostics simplify performance management.

Along with heterogeneous database platform support, the product also supports multiple operating systems including z/OS, OS/390, Unix, Linux and Windows.

In its initial releases, Quest Central was designed to be the desktop for the DBA. The concept was to provide everything the DBA needed, from creating schemas to tuning SQL or the database itself, into a single workbench. All of the DBA's tasks were encapsulated into one desktop, called Quest Central. Quest Central for DB2/UDB, released in October of 2000 received such tremendous feedback that Quest combined their Oracle point products into a single console and released Quest Central for Oracle in in January 2002. As more and more companies became heterogeneous, the cry went out for a workbench that combined DB2 and Oracle and added SQL Server to the mix. Thus was born Quest Central for Databases, a comprehensive workbench that combines all three platforms into a single product.

Quest Central provides the DBA with a cross-platform interface, providing not only the functions needed to support each database individually, but also automated intelligence allowing the DBA to proficiently manage and tune a secondary database that has just been brought on board, from one workbench. Deb Jenson, director of database management solutions for Quest stated "having the expertise built into the workbench we feel is just as important [as being heterogeneous] because they're not going to be an expert on that secondary database from day one. With quest Central 4.0 we provide everything a DBA needs--we provide a cross platform, we provide the automated tuning--so that they're up and running on additional databases immediately."

The built-in expertise is the do-all/end-all of this software, taking the user to the next step. Novices can take advantage of the automated tuning facilities to tune their environments using interfaces, that not only look and feel alike, but also have the same workflow as far as the user is concerned. Quest Central masks the differences between the database platforms. In addition, Quest has taken into account that the staff to manage DB2 Mainframe is diminishing. Therefore, it has incorporated the DB2 Mainframe into the GUI console of Quest Central for Databases, eliminating the platform barrier of having to know how to sign onto 3270 and how to use ISPF, etc.

Quest Central's GUI closely resembles the Windows Explorer interface, thus making the use of it intuitive for users. The left side of the window shows the tree containing the databases, be it DB2, Oracle or SQL Server, while the right displays a list of files. It is at this point that the databases start to look and feel alike. If you want to list your tables, you click tables, regardless of which database you are using. A list of tables is displayed, and similar to Windows Explorer, a right click will provide a list of commands: open, properties, etc. It is very easy to jump from database to database since Quest Central masks the difference between them.

Located within Quest Central is a component known as the Performance Analysis Product. The database analysis tool will not only alert the DBA to a performance issue, but also will tell him where the problem resides and automate the repair. Database junkies, on the other hand, have the ability to analyze and fix the problem themselves. A perfect solution for novices and experts alike.

In addition to the key feature of Quest Central--the combination of the three major databases into one console--this release also provides some new features for the individual databases. Oracle people can look forward to zero downtime on their reorganization. There is no downtime for even a switch to take place. DB2 folks are provided with the Knowledge Base. In addition, there are more DB2 EEE capabilities. An interface allows the user to look at the entire DB2 EEE cluster, find a performance problem and drill down from there. SQL Server is new to Quest Central, so for those users, everything is a new feature. They get the expertise, the performance management and the administrative capabilities, just like the other Quest Central products.

If you are not yet excited about the new Quest Central for Databases, consider that Quest is also offering a free health check of your databases. The company sends a consultant on site, at no charge, to install Quest Central, kick off the automated tuning capabilities and provide an executive level summary report of recommendations and the facilities needed to enforce those recommendations.

Quest Central for Databases 4.0 pricing starts at $1500 for a single tier A server running Microsoft SQL Server.

About Quest Software, Inc.
Quest Software, Inc., a leader in application management, provides software for Application Confidence to 18,000 customers worldwide, including 75 percent of the Fortune 500. Quest products for database management, application performance management and Microsoft infrastructure management help customers develop, deploy, manage and maintain enterprise applications without expensive downtime or business interruption. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Quest Software can be found in offices around the globe and at www.quest.com.

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