According to CEO Ron Zambonini, web services is a natural next step for business intelligence (BI) systems. The way web services work – by discovering, describing and then creating open, industry standards-based ‘services’ on nuggets of application logic – makes them ideal for BI deployments, where discovery of information – for example via an extranet – is the central function, he said.
“An open application programming interface (API) means you can extend business intelligence all over your organisation and beyond without exposing entire chunks of your corporate data or applications,” said Zambonini.
An employee portal, for example, could incorporate pieces of application logic from Cognos’ PowerPlay online analytical processing (OLAP) tool so authorised users could call up and analyse daily revenue figures as a web service.
However, Giga Information Group analyst Philip Russom, warns that organisations planning to implement Cognos Web Services may face a greater workload than they expect. “Users considering Cognos Web Services should expect to write a lot of code manually,” he wrote in a research note. “Creating web services for business intelligence with Cognos’ toolkit is not for the feint of heart.”
Furthermore, Cognos lags behind its competitors in introducing web services functionality to its products. Since December 2001, Actuate Software, Business Objects, DataMirror, Hyperion, Information Builders and SAS Institute have all launched some kind of support for web services in their products.
But this lateness to market should not hinder Cognos prospects in web services, according to Russom at Giga. “There’s really no need to rush,” he says. “Although interest among BI users is rising, demand for real-world implementations of BI web services is today very low. Cognos and other vendors still have at least 12 months to complete their web services offerings.”