News analysis: Cognos wants IT's approval

Added administrative tools should help IT be willing to spread BI to more knowledge workers

On Tuesday, Cognos unveiled Cognos 8 BI v3, most likely the last upgrade before the acquisition by IBM is final. The Cognos board ratified the acquisition earlier this week.

However, Version 3 was under development long before IBM made its offer, according to officials.

While the new capabilities in release 8.3 are meant to attract a wider group of knowledge workers, it is also meant to reassure IT executives, wary of having to support an ever increasing number of business managers, that version 8.3's new features will make it is easier to monitor and manage BI performance.

The new, richer administrative capabilities will allow IT to take a snapshot of the BI environment in real time and identify everything from a runaway query to what reports are waiting in the queue. The admin tool can reprioritize jobs and rerun reports before a user even realizes there is a glitch in the system.

"Now a system administrator can be more proactive before someone calls in to the help desk," said Harriet Fryman, executive vice president of product marketing at Cognos.

Using an administrative console, IT can monitor metrics and step up the thresholds to say what is acceptable behavior before action is required.

IT will also be able to build its own set of reports and analyses to understand how well the system is functioning, including how the servers are performing and whether more need to be brought up, said Fryman.

"It will help IT make decisions on how they want to run the BI environment," Fryman said.

The driver behind the additional administrative capabilities comes out of the realization that IT always worries whether too many people using the system will overwhelm the help desk, or whether users could shut down the system if they have too much functionality available to them, said David O'Connell, a senior analyst with Nucleus Research.

"IT might be overconcerned. They want to keep down how much they let BI get out there. They worry about a runaway query. Now they have less reason to fear," said O'Connell.

Version 8.3 also makes it less costly to administer and manage, all of which will goes toward easing IT's reluctance to take on more users.

Cognos 8 BI v3 is available now.