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Performance management takes a backseat to process management

Performance management be darned--or (at the very least) nudged aside. Business intelligence (BI) vendors have a very different kind of BPM--viz., business process management--on the brain, as both Cognos Inc. and Actuate Corp. recently notched BPM-related deals with IBM Corp.

Separately, Teradata (a division of NCR Corp.) had an acronymic idée fixe of a different kind--SCM, or supply chain management. The data warehousing powerhouse last week acquired an SCM specialist to beef up its already strong demand and supply chain management portfolio.

Last Monday, Cognos and IBM announced an expanded partnership that (on paper at least) owes as much to Big Blue's expertise in service-orientation (with its ubiquitous WebSphere data and application integration stack) as it does to Cognos' BI prowess. The resultant BPM hardware, software and services bundle, the partners claim, will help customers integrate their business processes (IBM's contribution) and gain greater insight into business performance (Cognos' role).

Cognos and IBM say the agreement (or "Strategic Alliance," in PR-speak) includes joint development, marketing, and sales of SOA-based solutions, and also calls for Big Blue to increase its Cognos consultant capabilities to support the analytic aspects of the program. As quid to IBM's quo, Cognos pledged to optimize its BI stack for Big Blue's hardware, software, and services offerings. (Cognos and IBM have an existing partnership to promote the former's BI software on the latter's pSeries Unix servers.) Elsewhere, Cognos says it will deliver IBM's WebSphere and Information Management technologies as part of its preferred reference architecture for Cognos 8 Special Edition.

The partnership calls for the two companies to jointly develop a series of vertical offerings tweaked for BPM challenges (of both the process and performance management kind) across a range of verticals, including insurance and public sector. Cognos and IBM say they will help customers in these verticals achieve SOA nirvana by pushing packaged bundles based on Big Blue's WebSphere, Lotus, Tivoli, and Rational software offerings; xSeries (Intel-based) and pSeries (RISC-based) hardware platforms; and iSeries (RISC, OS/400 midrange computers) and zSeries (mainframe CMOS) hardware platforms, which will be used primarily as sources for data integration or data federation projects.

"Both companies share a vision for providing cost-effective, integrated business solutions for enterprise companies. With this alliance, our organizations will be more tightly aligned and in an optimal position to help our customers succeed with their BI and performance management initiatives," said Cognos president and CEO Rob Ashe, in a statement.

Actuate Cozies up to Big Blue

Enterprise reporting specialist Actuate is expected to unveil a new banking-oriented SOA package in conjunction with IBM. Details are sketchy, but Actuate officials say the company's service-enabled Enterprise Reporting Application Platform is already tapped by a number of banks--both in the U.S. and globally--for use in their own SOA initiatives.

"Actuate's contribution to [IBM's] SOA Business Central will be a valuable one since it will draw upon the company's deep expertise in enterprise reporting and its inclusion in IBM's Banking Front Office solution set," said Sandy Carter, a vice president with IBM Software Group, in a statement. "Customers like CheckFree using Actuate with IBM Middleware are already taking full advantage of a true services-oriented infrastructure, and the benefits of such an approach are becoming applicable to an increasing number of business challenges."

Teradata Fleshes Out SCM Stack

Teradata last week acquired a supply chain management application (called SeeChain) from SCM specialist SeeCommerce for an undisclosed sum.

"The SeeChain application complements the capabilities of the Teradata Demand Chain Management and Teradata Supply Chain Intelligence applications by providing visibility to item-/location-level detail and also the ability to monitor, measure, manage and analyze supply chain operations and take corrective action on exceptions," said Teradata chief marketing officer Bob Fair, in a statement. "Together, our enhanced portfolio ensures that our customers will have the integrated visibility and traceability they require for more efficient and effective supply chain management."

Teradata says the addition of SeeChain will help it deliver a supply chain solution that combines integrated, detail data analysis with scalability and performance in a single interface. The SeeChain acquisition should be a boon to SCM performance analysis, Teradata officials say, supporting a degree of granularity that ranges from individual activities to broad, multi-functional processes.

Teradata has promised to provide ongoing support for existing SeeChain customers and says it expects to hire most of SeeCommerce's sales, development, and support personnel, too.

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