BusinessWeek is mourning the death of the "best of breed" companies after this week's news that IBM bought out Cognos, one of the few remaining stand-alone business intelligence solution providers, for a cool $5 billion. The article notes that -- except for BEA Systems and Sybase - the others have all been absorbed into tech giants Microsoft, IBM, SAP and Oracle. Is it even possible for mid-sized software companies to survive these days, ponders the report.
Who knows? Fledgling companies are already waiting in the wings, so while smaller software companies may not survive in the longer, Darwinian sense, they can certainly enjoy a good run in the sun.
A better question for those in technology is what these deals mean for your own IT systems, particularly in terms of integration. Some contend that the acquisitions of smaller companies by tech behemoths make integration easier in the long run. Steve Mills -- the senior VP and group executive of IBM Software Group -- told BusinessWeek that companies prefer to buy their solutions pre-integrated from one large vendor than to face integrating best-of-breed offerings piece-meal.
Despite Mills' obvious bias, it does seem to be the case that companies prefer to purchase stack solutions from large vendors - witness how many companies look to IBM and Microsoft for guidance on building their SOAs.
Meanwhile, Cognos clients are stuck with the more immediate question of how IBM's actions will affect their IT systems. IT Toolbox blogger Vincent McBurney addresses this very question on his blog this week.
While IBM has promised to continue supporting Cognos' data integration products, McBurney predicts Big Blue will soon stop development on them. To help customers prepare, he offers a breakdown of the benefits of staying with Cognos ETL versus switching to IBM's DataStage.
Committing to large-vendor solutions may solve your immediate integration problems, but it may also put you behind the curve, technology-wise. As the BusinessWeek article reminds us, there's always something disruptive coming in software. In the business intelligence space, the company is QlikTech, a solution that loads all data into a computer's memory chips for faster analysis and query results. For more on the buzz-y company, see Ann All's The Visible Enterprise post today.