Cognos Provides the Backbone
The software backbone of this new private cloud is IBM's
Cognos business intelligence software division. Big
Blue acquired Cognos in January 2008 for about $5 billion. Last September, IBM
unveiled an "express" version of Cognos' analytics for midrange
Cognos currently has about 23,000 customers around the world, with verticals including banking, government, scientific, retail and education. The Smart Analytics Cloud stands to raise awareness of Cognos significantly.
"We recognized that [IBM has] the same challenges that any enterprise has," Bradshaw said. "The Smart Analytics Cloud will provide a common business analytics framework, no matter where an employee sits in an enterprise.
"This is clearly in the private cloud model, as well as an offering to help our clients go implement their own business analytics internally," Bradshaw said.
The data IBM is talking about is a "combination of existing data stores and data marts, along with transactional systems," Bradshaw said. "In the past, you'd basically have to go on a hunt to find all the business data you would need: You grab it, you bring it together, you create your own data repository, which includes all the elements you are interested in to do your reporting.
"For example, if a business wants to link historical information with existing transactional data, then instead of having to go find that transactional information, combine it with the historical data to drive reports and then create a database to hold all that stuff, Cognos allows you to define those repositories, those locations," Bradshaw said. "Once you register those locations, you don't have to do it again. I can then pull the data in and build the analytics of the views I want to see on top of those two databases.
"I don't have to bring them together [each time], don't have to relocate them. They are where they are. This is a business analytics cloud, as opposed to a business data cloud," Bradshaw said.
Once they're set up on the Smart Analytics Cloud through IBM Global Services, customers request space in the cloud, where they get access to all these different data sources that are already registered, in addition to registering their own data stores, Bradshaw said.
"The two immediately tangible benefits are these: We start moving away from siloing of information, and you slow down the proliferation of hardware and software elements in a distributed way across the enterprise," Bradshaw said.
"And the best part of it is this: Now that you can bring this information together more efficiency, people are going to start making associations with the data that heretofore weren't necessarily even thought of," Bradshaw said.
"For example, on Amazon.com, they show you not only what you've bought, but right underneath it, they tell you that 'People who have bought this also purchased these products.' These systems can bring this kind of information into the hands of many people, not just a few experts at a company."
IBM Smart Analytics Cloud is available now. For more information, go here.