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At the recent IBM Information on Demand conference Cognos unveiled some of its plans in the wake of its acquisition by IBM. While many of these were, as you would expect, concerned solely with business intelligence, there were a couple of interesting points with respect to integration at an infrastructure level.
The first of these concerns ETL (extract, transform and load). I have to say that I nearly fell off my chair when it was casually announced that Cognos Data Manager was considered to be complementary to DataStage, given that these are both ETL tools. However, on reflection this makes a certain sense. What you have to appreciate is that Data Manager was tailored specifically for loading data into Cognos environments and it has specific features to enable and support this. It was, therefore, never sold to anyone but Cognos users.
What Cognos/IBM is planning to do is to have DataStage be a source for Data Manager while Data Manager will be a target for DataStage. In other words, in a Cognos environment you will be able to front-end Data Manager with DataStage so that you can leverage DataStage’s parallel processing capabilities (which Data Manager doesn’t have) while still being able to use the specialised facilities of Data Manager to create and maintain the Cognos environment.
The second interesting development is with respect to dimension management. This will provide (when it is released, the product is currently in beta testing) the sort of analytic MDM (master data management) that Hyperion (now Oracle) gained when it bought Razza a few years ago. Put simply it will allow you to define multiple hierarchies (views) on the same data in a consistent manner, with collaborative authoring and workflow. It will handle slowly changing dimensions and allow you to re-align your data against different hierarchies (for example, last year’s hierarchy as opposed to this year’s).
Now, that’s nice but it’s not the end of the story because this will integrate with IBM’s MDM solutions and it will be possible to leverage the dimension management solution’s capabilities either from within the Cognos environment or from MDM.
Bear in mind that IBM has been beating its drum about what it calls ‘multiform’ MDM. That is, an MDM solution that supports multiple domains, multiple use cases and multiple deployment options. In terms of the second of these, MDM can theoretically be used in operational environments (where you want to synchronise data between source systems and the MDM system), collaborative environments (where you want co-authoring of product information, for example) and analytic environments.
However, IBM has previously struggled to provide much capability beyond that in the MDM system itself to support the last of these, so what the dimension management solution will do (apart from boosting the Cognos environment per se) is to significantly strengthen IBM’s portfolio across its MDM suite, and give extra strength to its multiform message.