RESEARCH & RESOURCES

Cognos and Appfluent Partner to Improve Business Intelligence Scalability

Scaling complex BI deployments isn’t getting any easier, Cognos and Appfluent say.

If Cognos Inc. and partner Appfluent Technology are correct, the next frontier in enterprise business intelligence (BI) might look awfully familiar to a lot of BI and IT pros: application performance and scalability management.

It isn’t as if scaling complex BI deployments isn’t already a pressing problem, Cognos and Appfluent concede; it’s just that a range of factors—such as the ever-increasing demand for real-time, near-real-time, or "right-time" data—have helped make it more problematic than ever.

"What we hear from customers on the scalability side of it is that in addition to getting more real-time type information, customers that deployed Cognos a couple of years ago started small, but now they’re trying to make it more pervasive in the enterprise," says Santosh Chitakki, vice-president of product management and marketing with Appfluent. "What they need is assistance in overcoming challenges that they may have with their infrastructure and sort of finding areas where they can improve [performance]."

Enter Appfluent, a specialty provider of usage and workload analytics for BI and data warehousing scenarios. Cognos—which has an existing partnership with that company—says it is tapping Appfluent’s software to help deliver capacity planning, capacity management, growth assessment, and other analytic capabilities to enterprise information technology (IT) teams.

The idea, Chitakki says, is to not only make Cognos BI deployments more manageable, but to better equip customers to plan for future BI growth.

"When we talk to customers, Cognos customers, if they’ve deployed 1,000 users, they’re looking at broadening the deployment to 3,000 or 5,000 users. They’re looking at having more and more users access information within the organization by giving more power to users. Now they’re looking at, I need to be able to manage the deployment," Chitakki continues. "What IT has been asking us is that … we need to start analyzing end-to-end to be able to cost-effectively manage that deployment, scale the deployment."

Appfluent’s analytic capabilities provide insights into a number of common BI and data warehousing tasks, including enterprise BI standardizations and migrations, query performance optimizations, and data consolidations or migrations.

"What we’re seeing … is pent-up demand [from customers] in the context of ‘I’m running blind.’ [IT departments are] trying to look at scalability from 1,000 to 5,000 users, but [they’re] kind of running blind in terms of how do [they] manage, deploy, and scale [these deployments] without better insight into how the users are using the [applications]," says Brad Jeffers, director of industry and technology alliances with Cognos. "They’re dealing with problems like ‘How do I streamline what I’m loading into my databases and data warehouses? How do I manage looking at the workload characteristics and analysis to make better decisions about tuning, capacity management, capacity planning?’—those are the things that consumers are asking."

There’s a services component to the Cognos/Appfluent effort, too. In March, Cognos kicked off its Guardian Services consulting venture. Since then, the BI giant has tried to expose Guardian services to customers wherever and whenever it sees an opportunity to do so. And—in the case of its partnership with Appfluent—there’s ample opportunity to help customers, officials say.

"As our customers move forward through new projects and new iterations of users, the solution expands; typically they’re working by themselves or using a partner. They can get themselves into challenging situations. The Guardian Service is how we’re embedding the Appfluent [technologies]," says Alan Chapman, a director with Cognos Guardian Services. "The purpose of Guardian is to engage with the customers and to be really proactive about how we interact with them, to help them see where they’re going to have challenges moving forward."

About the Author


Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at evets@alwaysbedisrupting.com.

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