BI Consolidation

IBM snaps up Cognos after SAP agrees to acquire Business Objects.

With IBM Corp. and SAP AG agreeing to acquire the two largest independent suppliers of business intelligence (BI) software, the BI landscape will undergo a dramatic change in 2008. But the resulting consolidation should have minimal impact on .NET developers who build and maintain BI apps on the newly acquired platforms, according to the vendors and industry analysts.

IBM last month agreed to acquire Cognos Inc. for $5 billion, a move that came just weeks after SAP said it plans to acquire leading BI supplier Business Objects SA for $6.7 billion. Oracle Corp. earlier this year acquired Hyperion for $3.5 billion and made a hostile bid for BEA Systems Inc. SAP plans to integrate its NetWeaver BI platform with Business Objects' BI platform.

Henning Kagermann"We'll see the industry's most comprehensive portfolio of business performance and optimization solutions in the market and we'll offer these for companies of all sizes in all geographies, and over time for industries," said Henning Kagermann, CEO of SAP, at a press conference in October when the deal was announced.

Tight Integration
The SAP-Business Objects deal shouldn't be disruptive to Windows and .NET developers, as both vendors' offerings already have strong integration with Microsoft's programming environment and tools.

"There's already a lot of tight integration there, and all of the functionality of the Business Objects Enterprise XI environment is exposed through .NET and available to any Visual Studio developer, as well as through Java classes and APIs," says James Kobielus, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc. "Quite frankly, both Business Objects and SAP have extremely strong Office and SharePoint integration already, and I don't think they're going to slice that off at all."

Forrester Research Inc. analyst Boris Evelson agrees. "SAP will definitely push Business Objects to do entire integration with NetWeaver and maybe pay less attention to other integration areas," he says. "But from a core Windows developer perspective, I don't think this is a significant event."

On the other hand, the deal invariably will step up the competitive stakes between SAP/Business Objects and Microsoft, which just released its PerformancePoint 2007 server last month.

"These guys are already competitors, so we'll see this coopetition while they slug it out in the financial CPM space, as they all try to get deeper into the verticalized analytics tools," Kobielus says.

Also look for Microsoft to forge closer ties between its own Microsoft Dynamics, PerformancePoint and SQL Server Reporting and Analysis teams.

"SAP and Business Objects have both been in our Visual Studio partner program for many, many years," says John Case, Microsoft's general manager for developer and user experience platforms and tools. "We work with both of them, and I'm sure we'll continue to work with both of them. I think that sort of underscores the strategic importance of BI of the enterprise."

Microsoft also has BI partnerships with Cognos and others.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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