NEW YORK – IBM’s integration of Cognos’ product line and service organization should mean greater, not fewer opportunities for channel partners to reach business intelligence customers, executives said.
Big Blue, which acquired the Canadian business intelligence (BI) maker late last year for approximately US$5 billion, launched this week the first integrated products resulting from the deal, focusing on software to assist with legal compliance and retail issues. These include a “starter pack” to link Cognos 8 business intelligence (BI) with InfoSphere Warehouse, a data warehousing product IBM released last week. The company will also be offering pre-integration of Cognos 8 with IBM’s Information Management Server and pre-configurated templates for integrating Cognos 8 BI with FileNet business process management software.
IBM highlighted a Compliance Warehouse for Legal Control as an example of something that uses a combination of Big Blue content management and storage hardware alongside Cognos BI software to monitor and analyze information to deal with e-discovery issues. IBM’s retail division, meanwhile, has added “blueprints” from Cognos on how to improve store operations and planning.
Beyond the products themselves, bringing in Cognos is also leading to substantial additions within its Global Technology Services (GTS) group, IBM said. For example, IBM will be starting an Information On Demand infrastructure “community of practice” that focuses specifically on BI and the InfoSphere line. Resources for customers will include direct services to set up and deploy infrastructure to support the Compliance Warehouse, for example, as well as storage optimization and integration services.
Cognos also had its own consulting and services organization, as well as a network of partners. The employees in that group have been moved into what’s known as IBM’s Labs Services, where they will continue to focus on BI and analytics types of projects.
“They’ll be a bridge to the GTS team, doing performance tuning and optimization,” he said. “Some of it will be free, but a lot of it will be billable.”
That said, IBM has no intentions of trying to cover off the market for BI applications entirely on its own, said Steve Mills, president of IBM’s software group. That’s partly because the product sets it is creating with Cognos contain such a mix of software and hardware, and partly because customers have such a mixed application environment.
“The brand names are a scattergram,” said Mills, adding that many large firms have between 2,000 and 4,000 different applications. “We’ll definitely be leveraging our partners to bring these things to market as well.”
In keeping with the pattern it has established with Lotus, Tivoli and other acquired firms in its portfolio, Mills said the Cognos name would likely stay intact, unless customers showed a strong preference otherwise.
“You end up with a lot of names,” he admitted. “But eventually the culture you have is that of IBM, and what we’ve found with Cognos is that they have the same culture.”
Other joint products in the IBM-Cognos lineup include a starter kit designed to speed up the time it takes Cognos BI customers to create dashboards that show important business information.