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Given IBM’s leadership position in nSOA and portal, Cognos 8 was deemed a perfect fit in features and functions to port to the mainframe.

Given IBM’s leadership position in nSOA and portal, Cognos 8 was deemed a perfect fit in features and functions to port to the mainframe.
Illustration by Julia Breckenreid

IBM has announced its beta program for enabling Cognos 8 Business Intelligence (BI) for Linux* on the System z* platform. IBM’s acquisition of Cognos earlier in 2008 sent a strong message that it’s investing heavily in the application space. Cognos has a substantial portfolio of BI and performance management (PM) solutions based upon a modern, service oriented architecture (SOA) that fits neatly into IBM’s burgeoning data warehouse (DW) and Information on Demand (IoD) strategy.

IBM views enterprise data as a holistic set of information in many forms and formats that might include information external to the enterprise as well such as on the Internet. The IBM portfolio has grown substantially in the past few years to address customer requirements for enterprise-data warehousing and solutions delivery.

To complete its suite of end-to-end solution components, IBM acquired Cognos. Prior to this acquisition, Cognos had been named a Strategic Alliance Partner with IBM. Only the very top partners in technology and IBM affinity are awarded such a prestigious level in IBM’s partner hierarchy.

Now that the acquisition is complete, IBM and Cognos have been pursuing ways to enhance and take advantage of their mutual technology stack. One area that has been gaining attention in the industry and with customers is BI on the System z platform.

Cognos 8 BI for Linux on System z

Prior to announcing Cognos 8 for Linux on the System z platform, IBM had announced a suite of data-warehouse enabling tools on that same platform. IBM’s Information Server is an integrated data-warehouse creation, management and delivery suite previously only available on non-mainframe platforms. This set the stage for providing BI and analytics capabilities. The underpinning architecture for maximizing an investment in BI on the System z platform was now available.

Then IBM announced its beta program for enabling Cognos 8 BI for Linux on the System z platform on Feb. 26, 2008. This was also the date it announced other significant mainframe offerings such as the new System z10* hardware and DB2* Value Unit Edition (VUE), which offered DB2 for z/OS* on a one-time charge basis for the first time. Both the new System z10 server and DB2-VUE offer major enhancements in support of BI workloads. With these announcements IBM proclaimed that it’s investing heavily in the BI application space. Prior to this, Cognos had been available on many Linux, UNIX* and Windows* operating systems, but not on the System z platform.

Why choose to port Cognos to the mainframe? Cognos has a portfolio of BI and PM solutions based upon a modern, SOA architecture. It’s been one of the leaders in this space for awhile with an enormous install base and many satisfied customers. IBM and Cognos had been working closely within IBM’s software brands to examine ways their mutual technology stacks could benefit.

Given IBM’s leadership position in SOA and portal, Cognos 8 was deemed a perfect fit with little overlap in features and functions. It offers an integrated platform with many BI and PM capabilities. It sits upon a common metadata layer allowing the end user to select from a deep set of functions (including query, reporting and dashboards) to deliver critical business information. This information may be provided to the end user in many formats or user interfaces, such as Web browsers or personal digital assistants.

IBM and Cognos have been improving their industry-oriented solutions and now bring their combined solution stack to bear with enhanced business value to the customer. The IBM data warehouse and middleware offerings now can add a premier front-end tool to complete the package. Bringing Cognos to the mainframe is about more than having the acquisition be a good fit, or IBM wanting to offer its premier solutions on all platforms. That’s only a small part of the story. Many industry trends have caused many an enterprise to revisit its strategy regarding its investment in mainframe technology. Current trends in the industry are driving value and significance to the mainframe as a preferred server platform:

  • Server consolidation
  • Mission-critical BI and PM
  • 24-7 operation and availability
  • Security
  • Compliance issues
  • Environmental (green) factors
  • Managing mixed workloads and BI on a common system
  • Near real-time BI operations
  • Closer proximity to data captured at the enterprise level
  • Operational BI
  • Lower total cost of ownership and higher return on investment
The IBM portfolio has grown substantially in the past few years to address customer requirements for enterprise-data warehousing and solutions delivery.

Mike Biere is a senior product specialist for Rocket Software and former marketing manager for business intelligence at IBM.


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