November 12, 2007

IBM is buying Cognos – quick reactions

Some quick thoughts in connection with IBM’s just-announced plans to acquire Cognos.

1. Ironically, IBM just put out a press release describing a strong-sounding reseller partnership with Business Objects. The deal specified that

Business Objects will begin distributing and reselling IBM DB2 Warehouse with Business Objects XI and CFO Performance Management solutions. In addition, IBM will include a starter edition of Business Objects XI with DB2 and DB2 Warehouse.

Jeff Jones of IBM told me that they also had a partnership with Cognos, but with different details. I guess Cognos will eventually take over that deal, which is an obvious negative for Business Objects.

2. More generally, I can see where Cognos will now likely gain share at DB2 sites, and IBM/Ascential at Cognos sites. I can’t as easily see why Cognos would now lose share at Oracle or Teradata or Netezza sites, or why Ascential would lose share at SAP/BOBJ sites. So there seem to be some genuine synergies here, albeit perhaps modest ones.

3. Thus, I think the negatives in this deal for the remaining independents (Microstrategy, Information Builders, Informatica, etc.) will somewhat outweigh the positives.

4. I’m not a big fan of Cognos’ management, former CEO Ron Zambonini and a few other freethinkers excepted. So from that standpoint I don’t think they have a lot to lose being taken over by Big Blue.

5. Obviously, with most of the dominoes now fallen, the big question is about the future of BI as it – potentially – gets integrated into much larger enterprise technology suites. And I think the answer to that depends a lot more on technology than most people seem to realize. More on that subject later, but here’s one hint:

I think fixing the disappointment that is dashboards will involve taking query volumes up by at least 2 to 3 orders of magnitude. So as great as recent innovations in analytic query performance have been, I hope and trust that so far we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.


1. eWeek on the IBM/Business Objects deal.
2. Press release on the IBM/Business Objects deal.
3. Press release on the IBM/Cognos deal.


5 Responses to “IBM is buying Cognos – quick reactions”

  1. Mark Tsimelzon on November 12th, 2007 10:46 am

    > I think fixing the disappointment that is dashboards will involve taking query volumes up by at least 2 to 3 orders of magnitude.

    This is certainly one way to improve dashboards, make them more real-time and more relevant. Just query more and more often.

    The other, as you and I discussed, is the route of Complex Event Processing. CEP introduces the notion of continuous queries, i.e., the queries that continuously listen to incoming real-time data or events, analyze them, correlate them with other real-time events and with historical data, and feed results to real-time dashboards.

    Cognos had acquired Celequest in 2006, and Celequest was an early, however limited, example of a CEP product. Modern CEP tools go much, much further.

    Mark Tsimelzon
    President & CTO, Coral8.

  2. Curt Monash on November 12th, 2007 11:17 am

    Absolutely, Mark!

    CEP-like approaches are one of the leading candidates to provide this performance boost.

    Frankly, I think that the query processing engines, end-user (dashboard) UIs, and administrative UIs of BI tools are ALL headed for revolutionary change. But … well, revolutions are difficult and bloody. Continued more gradual evolution is certainly also a realistic possibility.

    But you did miss one point I was alluding to — real-time responsiveness is only a byproduct of the biggest change needed in dashboards. The more important change is greater personalization and customization of the queries, filters, and KPIs. It just so happens that CEP-like technologies look applicable even when the traditional raw speed of CEP isn’t important. Doing a lot of RELATED queries efficiently is one of you guys’ core competencies.



  3. Mark Tsimelzon on November 12th, 2007 12:39 pm

    Agree 100%!


  4. IBM is buying Cognos on November 12th, 2007 12:58 pm

    […] buying Cognos? I did not see this one coming. A few weeks ago, I heard rumors of a pan-canadian research […]

  5. Text Technologies»Blog Archive » Everybody’s talking about structured/unstructured integration on November 12th, 2007 1:04 pm

    […] big news is IBM’s $5 billion acquisition of Cognos. Part of the call was two customer examples of how the companies had worked together in the past […]

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