Integration Challenges

By Brian Prince  |  Posted 2008-10-27 Print this article Print

Other companies are pursuing similar strategies leveraging business intelligence, but IBM's IOD strategy is notable for its scope. Davis pointed out that IBM rivals such as Oracle would likely contend that while IBM has all these different pieces of the puzzle, there are integration challenges.

"You can quickly get into the weeds of claims and counterclaims," he said, conceding the size of a product portfolio is a superficial measuring stick. However, he added, "[IBM] has brought so many new technologies and products into that company specifically with an eye toward the Information On Demand objective that I think by most objective measures IBM would still have the edge when it comes to breadth of product portfolio."

The company certainly has not been shy about making acquisitions to support IOD. In the last two years, it has purchased numerous companies around IOD, from FileNet to DataMirror. Perhaps the most significant of the buys, however, was the acquisition of Cognos, which closed earlier this year.

Robert Ashe, a veteran of Cognos who now serves as IBM's general manager of business intelligence and performance, described the IBM stack as a pyramid. At the bottom are data and content management tools; above that layer are information integration, warehousing and management solutions. At the top level of Ashe's pyramid is Cognos' business intelligence software.

"For many years-two decades now-we've been dealing with the top part of the pyramid," Ashe said. "IBM, over time as they've developed this Information On Demand strategy and have acquired and developed internally, [has] built up a lot of the bottom part of that pyramid. The whole IOD strategy and IBM's acquisition of Cognos is to make sure that we can deliver on that supply chain of information for large and small companies that are now really doing information as a strategic asset, not a by-product." 

The multibillion-dollar marriage of the two companies also allowed for tighter integration between Cognos' BI and IBM's other products.

"When you look at what we've specifically done with respect to the IOD stack, it's starting to realize some of the benefits of the acquisitions," Ashe said. "Cognos now ships within DB2 as a starter edition. We support a key new capability called 'cubing services.' Really critical to this whole idea of data governance and a trusted data source is our integration with the InfoSphere product line, where we support data lineage and their glossary capability as well as their data quality tool and metadata integration with the DataStage product in the InfoSphere product line.

"From a technology perspective, I think we have been able to very quickly tap into IBM research and access a number of capabilities that otherwise would have really taken us years and years to acquire or develop ourselves," he added. "The area of predictive analytics, some of the search capability, some of the visualization capability-so a number I think of emerging technologies that are being brought to bear."


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