Dashboards Lure Cognos to Lava

Cognos  this week purchased Celequest, which lets customers access business intelligence (BI) capabilities through a hardware appliance and as software-as-a-service (SaaS), for an undisclosed sum.

Celequest makes a plug-and-play appliance called Lava, which gives customers the ability to monitor real-time information feeds about their businesses from transactional systems, such as an online trading platform.

Celequest also offers the Lava capabilities as SaaS, allowing Celequest to manage and monitor the hardware and the software. This means customers can reduce administration and maintenance costs.

Leah MacMillan, vice president of product marketing for Cognos, said the acquisition adds real-time information monitoring to Cognos’ portfolio.

For example, the company’s current platform, Cognos 8 BI, offers historical business trend information via dashboards that business managers may use to develop company performance management strategy for future operations.

Celequest’s products, by contrast, offer an inroad into a real-time world Cognos isn’t fluent in: BI to help operational, hands-on managers make decisions based on information that changes on the fly.

So, an operational manager for an online trading firm can see how his department is performing and make adjustments based on the information. Also, an inventory manager can cull data about current inventory and make a decision about replenishing stock.

“We have some things in our portfolio which allow us to extract transactional information from systems like Siebel and SAP R3, but what you get with Celequest is this patent-pending, in-memory streaming technology under the covers that is able to get that real-time information monitoring,” MacMillan told internetnews.com.

“That is something that enables us to reach a whole new class of users — those operational managers that need that up-to-the-second information to make decisions.”

The streaming data-flow engine MacMillan referred to allows the Lava appliance and SaaS services to cache data and analytical information in memory and stream it to large numbers of users through a customizable, graphical dashboard.

For the SaaS side, Lava On Demand is available in two subscription-based options: a managed service, where BI data remains within a corporate firewall, and as a hosted service.

In Lava Managed Service, Celequest remotely manages a Lava appliance housed inside a company’s firewall to preserve data integrity. In the Lava Hosted Service, all of the Lava assets are managed by Celequest, a situation that may be ideal for a company with few IT resources.

Celequest currently offers Lava for Salesforce.com as a hosted service that integrates with a company’s installation of Salesforce.com AppExchange.

MacMillan said Cognos intends to retain both the Lava appliance and SaaS offerings, all of which are interoperable out-of-the-box with Cognos 8 BI’s API . It will be the first time Cognos will offer both hardware and SaaS.

Celequest has a solid technology pedigree; Diaz Nesamoney, who co-founded BI software maker Informatica in 1996, launched Celequest in 2003.

Nesamoney and Celequest’s 30 employees will remain at Celequest headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., MacMillan said.

Adding the Celequest products and staff will strengthen Cognos’ attack against Business Objects , including the 800-pound gorilla’s November purchase of SaaS analytics provider Nsite Software.

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