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Blog article by Bob Thomas
Is DataWalk an alternative to IBM i2?
IBM i2 Analyst’s Notebook (ANB) is a well-known product for link analysis and link chart visualization. As DataWalk also includes a link chart facility, we are frequently asked whether DataWalk is an “i2 alternative”.
The short answer is yes, DataWalk is an i2 alternative. However, this is a comparison of apples and oranges.
IBM i2 ANB is a single-user, standalone desktop application. In contrast, DataWalk is a collaborative, multi-user, server-based solution that can effectively scale to vast amounts to data. So, these are two very different animals.
To really answer the question of “i2 alternative”, in the context of the full capability many organizations need, the appropriate comparison is to extend the IBM solution. First is to add a database, and at least for limited amounts of data, this can be provided with IBM i2 iBase. Next is the ability to setup and maintain that database (e.g., setup database structure, and configure links, icons, permissions, etc.); this can be done with IBM i2 iBase Designer. In practice, though, many users choose not to adopt these products, and instead completely support themselves via manual operations (e.g., using MS Excel), or using Microsoft Access to cut, copy, paste and convert data. These operations can require significant effort which can consume days or even weeks. Once that process is completed, any new data needs to be harmonized with this environment. With such overhead, analyst efficiency is limited.
DataWalk is a full-stack analytics platform which provides all these capabilities in a single, integrated state-of-the-art solution. DataWalk allows you to easily combine all your data in a single database, standardize, clean and link it all together, and easily add new data sources. You can then instantly do search, link analysis, and geospatial analysis across all your data, no matter how big it is, with many concurrent collaborating users.
In addition, with DataWalk you can ingest new, raw data to the system on the fly without worrying about its structure. For example, DataWalk allows you to keep several telco data formats, or transactions in various data structures, and at any time you can ingest other new formats as desired by a simple drag and drop operation.
It’s possible to build an IBM-based solution that is more comparable to DataWalk, either by cobbling together a number of IBM products, or by purchasing Enterprise-class IBM products such as IBM Analyze or IBM Enterprise Insights Analysis. However, many organizations will not have the budget or personnel to take advantage of such products.
IBM I2 ANB
Single user desktop
No (add iBase)
Some (add iBase Designer)
Single user or small workgroup
Easily handle many users
Amount of data
Easily handle vast data volumes
Link chart prep
If you just have a couple of users, who primarily just need the ability to visualize a link chart, who don’t have much data, and who don’t mind doing a lot of work to prep data or modify the data sets you have available in an analysis, then i2 ANB may be fine for you.
If what you instead need is a collaborative analytics solution, for more users and/or more data, and you want to dramatically increase efficiency of your analysts, then DataWalk is a great fit.
So yes, DataWalk is an alternative to IBM i2, and in particular is an alternative to IBM solutions built on an extensive IBM i2 stack.