System i BI Vendors View IBM/Cognos Deal Skeptically

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On Monday IBM unveiled a $5 billion deal to purchase business-intelligence (BI) tool vendorCognos. In some regards, this action can be viewed as a bit of "keeping up with the Joneses," coming in the shadow of such other BI-company consolidation moves as Oracle Corporation's $3.3 billion buy of Hyperion last spring and SAP AG's $6.8 billion hoovering of Business Objects last month. It's part of a more general recognition in the wider IT market that ...

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Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Ervin James (not verified)
on Nov 20, 2007

At IBM there is BIG I and there is Little i. BIG I reflects decisions made by IBM Corp. but driven by one of the 5 software tiers: Lotus, WebSphere, Rational, DB2, or Tivoli or one of the 4 hardware brands: System p, System I, System x, or System z .

Decisions driven by any one of those organizations are typically not made with the consent, or possibly even the knowledge, of any of the others. For example, some months ago BIG I thought that it was in their interest to purchase HA vendor DataMirror. This decision was driven by the System p folks without consultation with the System i.

As a result, System i (referred to here as Little i) was caught unawares and scrabbled for a public statement and strategy. DataMirror is a fine vendor but not the dominant HA vendor in the System i space. The acquisition is sure to cause more disruption than stability.

Last week BIG I purchased BI vendor Cognos. Little i again was caught off guard. The Little i strategy uses the Information Builders developed subset of the WebFOCUS known as DB2 Web Query; and that product only became available in mid-September.

DB2 Web Query is ‘native’ to i5/OS as is WebFOCUS. Cognos, like most of the products in the BI space, is not ‘native’ and there are no plans to make it so. Today you need ODBC connections from most of these products, tomorrow they will use a new Call Level interface (CLI) in V6R1. That will make Cognos perform better but don’t hold your breath on seeing this product with system i.

The Cognos acquisition is also aimed at shoring up the System p space where over 70% of the systems use Oracle DB. Cognos is there to thwart Oracle hegemony.

As a longtime advocate of the simplicity and elegance of DB2/400 I cannot fathom the thought processes that would take data out of DB2/400 and move it to SQL Server or Oracle or Sybase for BI purposes. With DB2 Web Query you now have a product that is browser-based with Ajax and uses the smaller resource footprint of the LWI (Lightweight Web Interface), the replacement for Apache Tomcat.

So will DB2 Web Query succeed? Unfortunately, the odds are against it, for one very good reason. Aside from Doug Mack and a handful of others there is no support staff inside the System i brand to promote and develop it further whereas Cognos brings a horde of people to BIG I.

John deCoville (not verified)
on Nov 15, 2007
Where does EGL fit in here? IBM assures me that EGL is here to stay and will be one of the flagship products. Will IBM better integrate COGNOS into all its products?

And, yes, COGNOS fits quite well with our old iSeries Computer.

Will IBM spend any money on further integrating COGNOS with the system-i? Any IBM'ers out there or people in the know that can comment?

--John deCoville John: I asked Bob Cancilla, IBM's "software evangelist" for System i. He returned the following comment: Our acquisition of COGNOS is most certainly a good thing for IBM customers. COGNOS is and has been a business user oriented tool supported by IT specialists. Please note I was a COGNOS customer for many years. Prior to IBM's acquisition, COGNOS had withdrawn any support for i5/OS. COGNOS is managed by our Information Management brand within Software Group (formerly DB2). I have no idea what plans they have for supporting i5/OS at this time. Please note that COGNOS while claiming to support i5/OS never did. They provided access only via the ODBC driver bundled with iSeries Access and deployed all of their CUBES, Reports, and other software to Windows based servers. EGL via Rational Business Developer (RBD) remains IBM's strategic direction for business systems developers. This does not in anyway conflict with COGNOS which is first and foremost a business intelligence reporting and analysis tool that compliments and rounds out the Information Management portfolio. COGNOS has never been an application development platform and will not be sold as such. Bob Cancilla I hope that provides at least a partial answer to your question. --jg
Mark Sanders (not verified)
on Nov 15, 2007
Along with the BI tools from Cognos they also market Powerhouse 4GL for various platforms. What is going to happen to this part of the business? Will it be the final nail in the coffin for Powerhouse? Powerhouse 4GL used to be developed for AS/400s. Is there now a possibility of a re-emergence of a fully supported product for System i? As a System i customer who runs a really old version of Powerhouse on our i570's I would be really interested in finding out more especially in this area.

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