Most business intelligence (BI) vendors see tighter integration as a high priority, and Cognos' framework, called Series 7, is key to its integration strategy.
In January 2002, Cognos will release all of its different capabilities under one banner, according to Karen Williams, director of product marketing. "We don't want to make customers take things that they don't really need, so we're taking a plug-and-play, modular approach," said Williams. "This delivers a framework that all of the pieces plug into".
When the products are released in January, each box will contain the framework. Customers that buy PowerPlay, for example, can install that and then if they decide to add other Cognos products at a later date, they can plug them into the framework and the integration work is already done.
Bob Moran, an analyst at Aberdeen Group, said that most of the players in the BI space are headed in the direction of tighter integration between applications. "It's not only requisite to have a suite of tools and applications built on top of it, they have to work together. They have to underpin each other. It's incumbent upon the BI institutions to bear that burden," Moran said.
The Series 7 framework also enhances security through the use of LDAP and secure sockets layer provides a single place to store metadata; and so management is via a single console and the BI data can be viewed from a portal environment." This gives the end-user the ability to work with information, not work with software," Williams said.
Cognos was not the only BI company making noise recently. Earlier this week, Ascential Software and Hyperion Solutions both had announcements of their own.
Ascential updated its DataStage XE and XE/390 products and released three new products: the XE Portal Edition 1.0, DataStage Pack 1.0 for PeopleSoft and DataStage Pack 1.0 for Siebel. The common theme among the products is integration, both among the DataStage family and between other applications, including CRM, ERP, legacy data and bespoke systems.
On its end, Hyperion issued new versions of its planning and business modelling packages. The company said that these can be used to more closely align operational behaviour with planning and forecasting, the end result of which is better decision making.
Moran said that information about changes that can have long-term effects is becoming one of the most important types of intelligence for companies to monitor.
"You have to manage that which changes and only that which changes. You cannot keep revisiting things that stay the same," Moran added.