Friday, September 19, 2008

Big Blue Cognos

After acquiring Cognos Corporation in early 2008, IBM wasted no time porting the Cognos 8 BI product onto their System z platform. When asked "Why port Cognos to the mainframe?," Mike Biere of IBM answered:

"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."

Mike also says that the mainframe is the perfect server choice for BI applications. Advantages of using the System z include:

  • 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

Most BI tools did not run on the mainframe, so companies often moved their reporting and analysis off to a distributed environment. But this caused more problems than it solved. Now you had redundant data in the enterprise which needed to be "synced" on a regular basis using data transfer processes that suck up CPU, network bandwidth, and disk space. The copied data idea started as being "yesterday's data" until users demanded more real-time information, which then meant implementing sophisticated data-change-and-replicate processes. IBM Cognos may have the real solution: put BI back on the mainframe with the data.

To read Mike Biere's entire story, see his July/August 2008 article in the IBM Systems Magazine.

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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.