September 6, 2007

Applix – Three huge opportunities Cognos will probably ignore

If I weren’t on a snorkeling vacation,* this might be a good time to write about why I once called Cognos “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” how Ron Zambonini used that label to help him gain the company’s top spot, why he’s such a big fan of mine, why I got my highest ever per-minute speaking fee to attend a Cognos sales kickoff event, why I went for a midnight touristing stroll in downtown Ottawa in zero degree Fahrenheit weather, or how I managed, while attending the aforementioned Cognos sales kickoff, to get snowed in for three days in, of all places, Dallas, Texas. But the wrasses and jacks await, so I’ll get straight to the point.

*Albeit fairly snorkel-free so far, thanks to Hurricane Felix. 🙁

As I discussed at considerable length in a white paper, Applix’s core technology is fully-featured, memory-centric MOLAP. This is certainly cool technology, and I think it is actually unique. That it’s historically been positioned as the engine for a mid-range set of performance management tools is a travesty, a shame, the result of a prior merger – and also the quite understandable consequence of RAM limitations. However, RAM is ever cheaper and Applix’s technology is now 64-bit, so the RAM barriers have been relaxed. Cognos can take Applix’s TM1 engine high-end if it wants to. And boy, should Cognos ever want to. Indeed, there are three different great ways Cognos could package and position TM1:

  1. As a no-data-warehouse-design quick-start analytics engine analogous to QlikView (the fastest-growing and most important newish BI suite, open source perhaps excepted);
  2. As the most sophisticated and versatile planning tool this side of SAP’s APO (and while APO’s sophistication is not in dispute, its versatility is questionable anyway);
  3. As the processing hub for dashboards-done-right.

#1, however, would probably involve realism about the state of Cognos’s overall product integration. Oops. Meanwhile, #2 and #3 would each involve innovating and developing an unproven market. Not bloody likely. Indeed, in the case of #3, Cognos long ago squandered its first crack at this opportunity, when it didn’t build on the lead provided by Cognos Metrics Manager.

So the most likely case is that Applix winds up being just an incremental and inconsequential addition to Cognos’s ever more diverse and unintegrated product set.


6 Responses to “Applix – Three huge opportunities Cognos will probably ignore”

  1. Tony on September 6th, 2007 3:31 pm

    It looks then that this deal had more to do with some of the strong corporate ties between the companies. Applix’s VP/COO used to work for Cognos. NewsVisual has more detail:
    It’ll be interesting to see down the road just how Cognos takes advantage of Applix.

  2. Dave Hatt on November 9th, 2007 8:44 am

    You mention “Cognos’s ever more diverse and unintegrated product set” as if was general knowledge, but I challenge you to either prove this or identify where did you got this impression?

    Maybe it was once true years ago after a few acquisitions but Cognos is now the most integrated of all the major BI/PM vendors. Not only have they spent a lot of time putting everthing onto a standard platform, but all the other major vendors such as SAP+BO and Oracle+Hyperion are only starting their integration process with a lot more pieces and different architectures to sort

  3. Curt Monash on November 9th, 2007 7:23 pm

    Thanks for commenting, Dave. Let’s see.

    First, I was not commenting on whether other companies’ product sets were integrated or unintegrated by comparison. That said, I tend to give BOBJ benefit of the doubt in that regard — at least pre-SAP — because of the good job they did integrating BOBJ classic with Crystal.

    Second, Report.Net was billed as integrated from the getgo. It wasn’t. More precisely, Cognos’ product line wasn’t magically integrated when Report.Net came out.

    Third, the last time I looked planning wasn’t well integrated into the rest of the product line at all. Now, I haven’t looked for a while. But that’s not for lack of trying. Cognos has been evading my questions for several years now. It is my understanding that they duck most other analysts as well. Nor, from the distance, have I noticed much compelling bubbling up in the way of integration proof points.

    Now, I’m not saying Cognos’ whole analyst relations department should be taken out and fired. Stonewalling can be a perfectly viable marketing strategy, and Cognos’ overall reputation is probably a lot better than the regard in which it’s held in the independent analyst community. But if there’s a strong counterargument to my views, I’ll admit to not having heard it.

    Anyhow — just what HAVE you done to replace the original engine underneath PowerPlay?



  4. DBMS2 — DataBase Management System Services » Blog Archive » The era of memory-centric BI may have finally started on April 25th, 2008 12:08 am

    […] that with Cognos’s acquisition of Applix and the continued success of upstart QlikView, and we could finally see a general memory-centric BI […]

  5. Infology.Ru » Blog Archive » Быстрый обзор технологий хранилищ данных on March 24th, 2009 12:27 pm

    […] MOLAP включённый в Microsoft SQL Server. Продукт компании Applix с вычислением в памяти TM1 ушёл в Cognos, который также […]

  6. Many kinds of memory-centric data management : DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on April 8th, 2012 3:16 am

    […] last technical briefing on Applix TM1 (now an IBM Cognos product) was in September, 2005. (The product itself dates back to 1984.) At the time TM1 had an […]

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