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How Cognos Fits IBM's SOA Strategy

So far, the big news at this week's OracleWorld show has nothing
to do with Oracle. It's that IBM
is buying Cognos
, until this morning the largest independent
business intelligence vendor.

IBM says that Cognos will help it address customer demand for data
analysis. This is true, but IBM was already doing that through a
partnership with Cognos, so the real impact on IBM customers is zero.
The acquisition's biggest effect will be to undermine competitors,
and not just by temporarily upstaging Larry Ellison.

The big loser is Software AG, which only
last week
made a partnership with Cognos the centerpiece of its
own show. Now it finds itself reselling its largest competitor's
product. In another thinly-veiled swipe at Software AG, whose recent
takeover of webMethods makes it IBM's biggest competitor in SOA, IBM
pointed out that there's no overlap between its own products and
those of Cognos.

The acquisition also hurts smaller vendors who had partnered with
Cognos. Informatica, for example, has carefully avoided competing
with Cognos, last month announcing that Cognos
would resell
its data integration tools. But it competes very
heavily with IBM, so Informatica both loses sales a channel and sees
its main competitor get even bigger and closer.

The longer-term trend is that base middleware functionality is
being commoditized. Vendors like IBM need to move back up the stack,
and BI is one important application for SOA. All the larger SOA
players are also placing bets on applications, ranging from complex
event processing to user-generated mashups, and we can expect to see
a lot more activity in this area.

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