Cognos builds Web services into BI platform

Heralding it as the next step in the evolution of business intelligence solutions, Cognos announced Monday the introduction of its Web Services strategy.

Cognos product marketing manager Colin Saravanamuttoo describes the software

as a flexible integration platform that allows developers and system integrators to extend the Cognos business intelligence (BI) to other applications, other environments, other technologies and devices.

The solution — which was originally conceived as a mobile technology application — works in both Windows and Unix environments. Saravanamuttoo described it is an enabling tool for users of the Cognos Series 7 BI to extend their use of that solution through XML, SOAP, and WSDL.

“”We leverage the alphabet soup of acronyms and produce XML output,”” he says. “”And once we have the XML output from the Cognos BI server, we can do almost anything with it.””

The flexibility and variety of possible applications is exactly what made the software attractive to Ottawa-based software developer DataJungle Inc., a Cognos partner who Monday announced the release of DataJungle Reporter Components-the first reporting solution supporting the Cognos product. DataJungle has always appreciated the approach that Cognos takes when dealing with the different needs of users, says president Denes Bartakovich.

“”Before, all of these business intelligence software vendors were essentially providing you with a one-size-fits-all solution,”” he says. “”You could deploy it and the user would get an interface that was static HTML, you couldn’t really customize it in any way. All user classes experienced these tools in the same way.””

The challenge is that enterprise requirements for BI tools not only differ significantly from company to company, but also from user to user within the same organization, says Bartakovich.

“”Some users just want to consume static reports, they don’t build their own reports or do complex analysis themselves. At the other end of the spectrum are those people who do explore through data sets, build their own reports, do ad hoc queering, etc.,”” he says.

That kind of differentiation was a key consideration during the development of the Web services software, says Saravanamuttoo, but integrating Cognos BI into other applications was another key feature.

“”Many organizations have their own home-grown application they want an analysis reporting component within them but they don’t necessarily want to develop it from the group up,”” says Saravanamuttoo. “”They can now integrate parts of the Cognos solution into whatever they’re working with already. And it can be a very tight integration to the point where the end user might not even realize that he’s using Cognos.””

Although the solution is just now entering the manufacturing stage, Cognos execs report that it has been tested by several enterprises, including Carlson Companies Inc, a travel and marketing company, who used it to allow its mostly mobile work force to access BI tools.

The move to providing Web services solutions is a natural one for Cognos, Saravanamuttoo says, especially because of the opportunity in the market.

“”There’s a lot hype around Web services these days, but we believe that there’s a lot of promise there too. People like IDC talk about the massive market opportunity over the next few years. So the potential growth is huge and we think we’re well positioned to be a part of some of this growth,”” he says.

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