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Cognos Revamps BI Offerings; Centralizes Management.

Cognos Inc yesterday announced what it's calling a new business intelligence platform that provides a desktop portal interface and centralized management capabilities for all its analysis and reporting tools. The platform, which will be unveiled this week at Cognos' North American user conference, will provide customers with an integrated, web-based access point to all Cognos BI applications, said Rob Zalumus, the company's UK managing director, as well as enabling administrators to manage those applications from one a single console for the first time.

In the past, users had to have separate passwords for each of Cognos' products; one for its Impromtu reporting tools and another for its PowerPlay business anlaytics, for example, Zalumus told ComputerWire. But the new browser-based portal, called Cognos Upfront, will provide a set of common integrated services including single sign on and security, metadata modeling, and data-mart creation, he said.

Like SAP AG's mySAP.com initiative, the idea is to provide users with roles-based, personalized access to Cognos applications. "Up to now, the business intelligence market has been about empowering users separately, and IT departments have had to deal with each user on an individual basis, making sure they each receive the tools appropriate to them," Zalumus said. "Our new platform changes that, enabling users to gain easy access to what they need without the IT department having to configure the software separately for each employee."

He denied that the move was in response to Brio Technology Inc's recent acquisition of Sqribe Technologies Inc, under which it got its hands on Sqribe's portal software. At the time, Brio said it was the first BI vendor to offer its customers a centralized portal. While Zalumus didn't deny that was the case, he said Cognos had been planning its new platform for months and added that in terms of technology, Cognos' portal was superior to Brio's. "Theirs [Brio's] is very limited in terms of what kinds of information its users can access," he said, adding that while most BI vendors were currently developing portal offerings, most "from what we understand are looking for a central management console...but we are the first to offer it."

The portal will incorporate the Extensible Markup Language (XML) specifications and be able to present HTML- based content from non-Cognos sources, Zalumus added. Burlington, Massachusetts-based Cognos won't sell the portal as a separate offering, rather it will integrate the technology within its BI applications, Zalumus said, adding that the individual products will continue to be available on a standalone basis. The Cognos Upfront portal, plus the centralized, back office, management software will be available by the end of the year, he said. Cognos' DecisionStream technology, acquired last year from the UK based Relational Matters and shipping as of yesterday, will provide the platform's data-mart creation capabilities.
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Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 8, 1999
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