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IBM Brings Cognos Into the Fold

Having sealed the deal on the largest acquisition in its history, IBM has moved to show that it has already taken the reigns of Cognos, the number two supplier of business intelligence (BI) and performance management software.

At a press conference on Wednesday February 6, IBM took the wraps off a slew of new products and services aimed at showing the linkages between the Cognos BI tools and IBM's data management, Web services and enterprise content management platforms, which embody IBM's Information On Demand (IOD) strategy.

IBM officially closed on the $5 billion acquisition of Cognos on January 31-- just two weeks after SAP took control of Business Objects, the market-leading BI vendor. SAP announced it will unveil is Business Objects road map on February 12.

For IBM, the Cognos deal is a major shift in emphasis. The company had previously partnered with BI vendors that included not only Cognos, but also Business Objects, Information Builders, Hyperion (acquired last year by Oracle), and others.

Integration Play
Steve Mills, senior vice president and general manager of IBM's software group, said that IBM intends to continue its support for various BI platforms, but he made clear that Cognos will be deeply integrated into the company's IOD stack.

"We can no longer expect to deliver next-generation solutions that go beyond what we've done, without tightening the connection between what Cognos does in its technology, and what IBM does," Mills said. "It was time to bring these things together and make them one contiguous set of capabilities."

By bringing Cognos into the fold, IBM now has a best-of-breed strategy around corporate performance management, combined with an enterprise content management platform, acquired through FileNet, as well as data management and integration capability via WebSphere and DB2 middleware and database stacks, said Forrester analyst James Kobielus.

"IBM will continue to integrate the Cognos offerings even more thoroughly into their Information on Demand portfolio," Kobielus said. While he said Cognos has a strong BI portfolio, it lags its rivals in one key area -- search. "That's an area IBM-Cognos will need to keep innovating on," Kobielus said.

For more on Forrester's take on this arena, go here.

Product Rollout
Among the products rolled out by IBM: 10 vertical industry solutions focused in key segments including retail, life sciences and public sector. IBM also launched a starter pack based on the Cognos BI platform; predeveloped templates for tying the Cognos BI platform with IBM's FileNet Business Process Management (BPM) software; and the IBM Dashboard Accelerator, which includes the new starter pack. The latter is intended to simplify the development of portal and dashboard components incorporating Cognos reports.

IBM also will offer a variety of turnkey solutions that cover the IOD hardware and software stack.

How will IBM's acquisition impact the existing integration of Cognos BI tools with Microsoft's Office, SQL Server, and OLAP and reporting tools? Kobielus said Microsoft shops will see little impact.

According to Kobielus, IBM and SAP have a considerable lead over Microsoft in overall BI and corporate performance management. Despite the recent release of Microsoft PerformancePoint Server, which targets broad BI applications for CFOs, Microsoft's next challenge is to gain ground in the area of vertical and business process function.

"PerformancePoint is a great product for leveraging the Microsoft stack," he said. "Microsoft now needs to play catch-up with IBM and SAP."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of ADTmag.com and news editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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