IBM, SAP Look to Re-Shape BI

Following recent acquisitions, IBM and SAP unveil a host of new products and services.

Having sealed the deal on the largest acquisition in its history, IBM Corp. is moving to show that it has taken the reigns of Cognos Inc., the No. 2 supplier of business intelligence (BI) and performance management software.

The largest supplier in the sector, Business Objects SA, also has a new parent now -- SAP AG. Both IBM and SAP outlined the latest strategies for their newly acquired properties last month.

At a press conference last month in New York, IBM took the wraps off a slew of new products and services, aimed at showing linkages between Cognos BI tools and IBM's data management, Web services and enterprise content management platforms, which embody IBM's Information On Demand (IOD) strategy.

Business Objects last month revealed its first product as an SAP unit -- BusinessObjects XI 3.0.

New to the new BusinessObjects BI platform is support for text and unstructured data. It also allows organizations to create reports from outside data sources, such as Thomson Financial and Dun & Bradstreet.

Steve MillsFor IBM, bringing Cognos on board is a major shift in emphasis. Steve Mills, senior vice president and general manager of IBM's software group, says that IBM intends to continue support for third-party BI platforms, but he points out that Cognos will be deeply integrated into the company's IOD stack.

"We can no longer expect to deliver next-generation solutions that go beyond what we've done, without tightening the connection between what Cognos does in its technology, and what IBM does," Mills says. "It was time to bring these things together and make them one contiguous set of capabilities."

Forrester Research Inc. analyst James Kobielus says that IBM and SAP have a considerable lead over Microsoft in overall BI and corporate performance management. Despite the recent release of Microsoft PerformancePoint Server, which targets broad BI apps for CFOs, Microsoft's next challenge is to gain ground in the area of vertical and business process function.

"PerformancePoint is a great product for leveraging the Microsoft stack," he says. "Microsoft now needs to play catch-up with IBM and SAP."

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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