IBM's Cognos 8 BI (business intelligence) software is now generally available for System z mainframes running Linux, the company announced last week.
The company announced its plans to port Cognos 8 to System z in February.
"Customers are looking beyond transactional applications, saying, 'Can I deliver more in my mainframe environment,' and BI is one of these," said Jennifer Hanniman, senior product marketing manager, Cognos 8 Platform.
In addition, customers are viewing BI as mission critical, and are therefore being drawn to BI on System z due to the mainframe's aura of reliability and scalability, according to Hanniman.
IBM went with Linux support first because Cognos was already compatible with it, according to Hanniman. The company plans to support additional System z operating systems, but has no roadmap as of yet, she said.
The software will cost about US$200 per user, with volume discounts available.
Analysts called IBM's move a pragmatic and expected one, given its roughly US$5 billion investment in Cognos, as well as a desire to keep its mainframe business strong as the industry increasingly moves to commodity-hardware server farms and eyes cloud computing services for its infrastructure needs.
System z is "a huge cash cow" for the company said analyst Judith Hurwitz. Porting Cognos to it "puts more fodder into the message that the mainframe is a good citizen."
However, IBM isn't first to market with the concept, and it's unclear how much demand there is right now for running BI natively on the mainframe, according to Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson.
"This is not a truly differentiating feature for BI, since Information Builders and SAS already run some portions of their BI products on mainframe," he noted via e-mail Monday. "In all honesty, I have not heard a single request from our clients looking to run BI on a mainframe. Pulling data from a mainframe, yes, but most all BI vendors offer that."
"However, for a mainframe-centric shop, it's a good alternative if they feel comfortable with their mainframe environment, want to run everything on one platform, and do not want to diversify into UNIX/Windows server platforms," he added.