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A Powerful Broker

Report Broker enhances scheduled reporting, offers more output options and adds administrative features you’ll love.

Report Broker enhances scheduled reporting, offers more output options and adds administrative features you’ll love.
Illustration by David Sather

Report Options

You have several choices on how often a report is run (see Figure 4). Basic options include every day or every week. You can choose which day or days of the week to run it. This could mean running a report on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For options such as monthly, you can choose a particular day, say always the first of the month, or an occurrence of a day, such as the first Monday or last Friday of the month.

You have several formatting options for either sending the report to an e-mail address or storing on the server. These include report-viewing options such as HTML, Active Reports, Excel (with or without formulas) and PDF (see Figure 5). For graphs, standards such as PNG and GIF are also available.

One of the most advanced features of Report Broker is its capability to do intelligent bursting. This is the concept of taking one report and segmenting it so individuals get only their particular data. When bursting, the report header and footer are attached to the rows that each user receives, so it looks like a complete report but only contains the data that user is authorized to see.

You’ll decide how to segment and send the data based on the first Sort By column in the report. When the distribution list is created, the e-mail addresses as well as the segment keywords are listed. With bursting enabled, the report will automatically segment for everyone on your distribution list. One example of when bursting is useful is a sales report in which each region’s manager only sees data for his or her region. You can reuse a single report yet distribute different content (see Figure 6).

Report Broker also contains a notification system that can be used to notify someone that a report was successful or failed. The choices allow for no notification, notify only on failure or always notify (see Figure 7).

In addition to the time-based scheduling for distribution, Report Broker lets you trigger report sending instantly from a CL command. Let’s assume you have an inventory report that runs every Friday afternoon. That’s great by itself, but what happens if inventory is running low on Wednesday morning? You could have a monitoring program or even a trigger program on your inventory file. When it detects a low inventory status, it could trigger the report to fire immediately. That report would then be e-mailed or printed to alert you to a potential problem.

Help for Administrators

Besides the front-end scheduling capabilities, several back-end utilities can assist administrators. A log tracks every report that’s sent. The information is viewable online but can also be e-mailed using the notification option. The retention period defaults to 30 days but can be modified.

Report Broker also has an interface for making global changes. Assume Fred changes jobs and now all of his reports should go to Steve. Using Global Updates, you can instantly change the ownership of all of Fred’s schedules to Steve and point them to Steve’s e-mail address.

Built into the administration side is a change-management facility. This lets schedules and distribution lists be pushed or updated to a second system. Using this facility, administrators can create all of the schedules on the development system and, once set, can push them over to the production system. If changes are necessary, you can make them on the development system and then update the production system. This lets all of the development work be done on the development system and then be deployed to the production system.

To prevent reports from running on particular dates, a blackout calendar lets administrators restrict execution. If a date is blacked out, scheduled reports won’t run until their next scheduled execution. If notifications were enabled, they’ll be sent stating that the report didn’t run.

Report Broker has a built-in Scan Back feature in case it goes down. When Report Broker comes back online, it will look for report executions that weren’t run while it was down. By default, any report meant to run in the prior 15 24-hour periods that wasn’t run will be run immediately. Older reports will run at their next execution time. The administrator can set the number of 24-hour periods that Scan Back will go back.

A Complete Package

Overall, Report Broker provides a complete set of report-scheduling tools. Reports can be distributed via e-mail, printers or a server. Larger reports can be intelligently burst to several users. Plus, a set of administration tools allows for simple global updates as well as change management. Report Broker will truly help complete your enterprise-reporting environment with DB2 Web Query.

Robert Andrews is an advisory software engineer with IBM Global Services. Robert can be reached at robert.andrews@us.ibm.com.


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