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Cognos: Sold to IBM for $5B!

 IBM Software has long made a big racket about how it’s an infrastructure player and would never ever, ever (again) compete with applications partners.

But now it’s buying Cognos for five billion big ones. That’s five billion. For Cognos! So those arguments are sounding pretty flimsy. Of course, IBM would (and will) argue that business intelligence and analytics are not applications per se. Yes, and you can probably fit a million angels on the head of a pin.

BusinessWeek’s headline summed it up:  IBM, Cognos, and the end of Best-of-Breed. Once again, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who has long said that best-of-breed was a goner, is proved right. Of course, as Bill Gates once said, Larry spent billions of shareholders’ dough proving that contention. But enough digressing.

A reporter pal could have one upped BusinessWeek with her suggested (but unused)  Cognos headline:  “Well, it needed killin’.”

 Of course IBM’s pledge of application agnosticism has long stuck in the craw of such “applications partners” as Information Builders and others. Many never bought the premise especially as the infrastructure of all the major players has crept up, up, up the application stack.
After  SAP bought Business Objects and Oracle bought up the rest of the known universe including Siebel and its analytics powers (Siebel had already bought nQuire) IBM must have figured it had to move. Don’t forget, Microsoft had its own buying binge snapping up Dundas technology along with Proclarity, ActiveViews, DeepMetrics, AssetMetrix (or parts of them) to beef up its BI portfolio.

So, as Cognos was the last BI player standing, it was only a matter of time. It has also been very closely aligned with IBM for years, especially once Microsoft started coming up the stack with its own reporting and analytics tools. In fact, IBM used to tout Cognos as a example of how it, unlike Microsoft and Oracle, does not compete with applications partners.

As SAP, Oracle, Microsoft continued their feeding frenzy, maybe it became an if-you-can’t-beat’em-join-em thing for IBM.

For  BI solution partners who’ve been in demand for their skills, will have to get used to playing with bigger and bigger partners.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston area freelancer, can be reached at  

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