Monday, November 12, 2007

IBM scoops up BI leader Cognos in $5B cash bid

The thought on the street was that Cognos had to get bought soon, given the business intelligence (BI) consolidation land-grab of late -- punctuated by Oracle's acquisition of Hyperion and SAP's buy of Business Objects.

So now Big Blue steps up to the plate, and for $5 billion in cash, buys Cognos. This quite large acquisition for IBM quickly adds more BI-oomph to the IBM "Information" portfolio, but also importantly takes Cognos off the market from anyone else. Other suitors would probably have been Microsoft and perhaps HP. This BI value could have burnished HP's total managment drive and complemented the Opsware purchase.

Publicly held Cognos, of Ottawa, Canada will become part of IBM’s Information Management software and should well augment IBM's aggressive Information on Demand initiatives through new BI and Performance Management capabilities. The Cognos assimilation will be led by managed by Information Management General Manager Ambuj Goyal.

It will be interesting to see how IBM will support all the Cognos partnership deals with many vendors, ISVs, channel players, SIs, and users. For example, Cognos just joined a partnership with Software AG, which competes with IBM on several levels.

Despite the complications of how to best merge the Cognos ecology into the IBM arsenal/universe, the purchase shows the importance of insight into and improved management of business activities to the global enterprise leadership. IBM has put a premium on ramping up its Information on Demand values through rapid acquisitions and business development.

Just this year, IBM has bought (or is in the process of buying) Watchfire, Telelogic, DataMirror, WebDialogs, and Princeton Softech.

Helping huge and complex corporations to get a handle on their data, content, metadata, and digital assets -- as well as to refine, consolidate and automate access to said assets -- forms a needed foundation for IBM's strategies around services oriented archirecture (SOA) and business process managment (BPM). Providing end-to-end, top-to-bottom value in the data lifecycle also buttresses IBM's goal of easing the customization of and ongoing agility of business applications and processes, even into granular vertical business niches. And all of these values further empower IBM's professional services offerings and depth.

Indeed, IBM has wasted no time nor expense in cobbling together perhaps the global leadership position in data management in the most comprehensive sense. IT vendor competition has long centered on entrenchment via platform, development framework, proprietary technologies, and price-performance persuasion. Long-term advantage via best solutions for complete data lifecycle management and mastery has additional relevance in a market where virtualization, SaaS, SOA, and open source are dislodging the old-school vendor lock-in options.