Cognos a Key Building Block in IBM's Data Strategy

IBM is bringing Cognos' BI to its data server and warehousing offerings as part of its Information On Demand strategy.

NEW YORK-When IBM first announced plans to buy Cognos and expand the companies' longtime partnership, many industry observers counted it as another example of consolidation in the business intelligence market and a furthering of IBM's Information On Demand strategy.

Now, on Feb. 6, only days after the roughly $5 billion acquisition closed, IBM has released a host of products leveraging Cognos' BI technology. To Arvind Krishna, vice president of IBM's data server group, the inclusion of the Cognos technology will help further differentiate IBM by allowing it to offer an end-to-end product for customers.

"Now the question is what can we integrate together, what can we performance-optimize so that a customer can do more [with the products] together," Krishna said in an interview with eWEEK at IBM's Information On Demand press conference here. "How about [creating] some cross-fertilization [to provide] real-time operational intelligence, not just collecting stuff in a warehouse in static way? How do I get things more push-button? How do I get things so that the underlying layers are really hidden and transparent to the people doing the business applications?"

IBM has already integrated Cognos 8 BI with its Information Server software platform with the promise of "seamless data integration and quality" as well as "metadata integration to provide data lineage in order to track the basis of business decisions." Company officials also announced that IBM will distribute InfoSphere Warehouse with Cognos 8.

Click here to read an interview with Cognos President and CEO Rob Ashe about the company's plans under the IBM umbrella.

The Information On Demand strategy is built on bringing business value to data by delivering it across the enterprise via a trusted platform. Part of doing that, IBM officials said, involves two things-developing a flexible infrastructure for enterprises so they can adapt to new information flowing into the enterprise, and being able to function in heterogeneous environments. A company's human resources department may use PeopleSoft while other applications are used in other departments, and IBM's strategy calls for its technology to be able to play nice regardless of the applications involved, Krishna said.

"Our approach is a little bit different than [those of] some of our competitors," he said. "We are not going to be monolithic. To me, the difference [is] monolithic means I sell you an offering, you-my customer-cannot decompose it, you cannot deconstruct it, both from technical or economic reasons. We are not going to do that."

Likening it to constructing a building, he said, IBM's approach allows companies to add a metaphorical floor if they choose to do so. Several officials at the company stressed in interviews that IBM's multibillion dollar investment in Cognos does not mean it will move away from its heterogeneous strategy.

"We're not a company that goes in and says, you have to rip and replace," said Nancy Pearson, vice president of worldwide marketing for information management. "That's fundamental to our heritage."