Help/Systems Buys ShowCase BI Products from IBM
April 2, 2013 Alex Woodie
Help/Systems yesterday announced that it has acquired several ShowCase business intelligence products from IBM. The transaction gives Help/Systems possession of one of the most storied brands in the history of IBM i analytics. However, it does not include the IBM i port of the Essbase online analytical processing (OLAP) tool, which has died on the IBM vine.
Terms of the deal between Help/Systems and IBM were not disclosed. The transaction is done, and some of IBM’s ShowCase customers are now Help/Systems customers. “I’m pleased to add the ShowCase software products to the Help/Systems family,” stated Help/Systems CEO Janet Dryer in Monday’s press release. “ShowCase users share our dedication to the IBM i platform, and we are excited to work with them as their needs grow and evolve.”
Dryer says the ShowCase products will be added to the software lineup of SEQUEL Software, a Help/Systems subsidiary that develops and markets query, reporting, and analysis tools for IBM i and other platforms. As the result of the ShowCase acquisition, SEQUEL now has more than 2,500 customers, Dryer says.
Help/Systems gains about 650 ShowCase customers with this deal, and about 10 IBM-ShowCase employees, Help/Systems director of global marketing Colleen Kulhanek says. That’s slightly more than half the installed base of 1,200 customers that ShowCase had when IBM bought SPSS in 2009.
While the native IBM i port of the Essbase OLAP engine gained attention for the ShowCase business, it was the Windows-based reporting tools that attracted the most customers, and accounted for the bulk of revenues in recent years.
Neither the Essbase for IBM i nor the Web Analysis for IBM i products are included in this deal. According to Kulhanek, IBM stopped marketing Essbase for IBM i at the end 2011. On May 27, IBM will stop providing support for the latest release of Essbase for IBM i, version 11, according to this IBM support Web page.
In the 2.5 years that IBM owned ShowCase, it never updated the OLAP component of the suite. IBM did issue an update to ShowCase’s Windows-based reporting tools about a year after buying SPSS for $1.2 billion in the second half of 2009. The announcement was necessary to enable channel partners to sell the tool.
It was clear at the time of the SPSS acquisition that IBM was mainly interested in SPSS’ Predictive Analytics Software (PASW) suite. After all, IBM had its own IBM i port of Essbase, which it called DB2 OLAP Server, that it sold and marketed to its biggest and best IBM i customers. In 2005, IBM killed DB2 OLAP Server, you will recall, and transferred the 400 or so customers running OLAP Server on i5/OS (as it was then called) and Linux, Unix, and Windows environments to Essbase owner Hyperion (for LUW) and SPSS (for i5/OS).
In 2007, Oracle bought Hyperion for more than $3.3 billion, and gained control of the Essbase technology. Oracle still maintained Hyperion’s old OEM agreement with SPSS, at least for a while. In 2009, SPSS issued the last major release of ShowCase Essbase for IBM i, version 11. Several months later, IBM bought SPSS for $1.2 billion, and the enhancements stopped.
Essbase was first developed by E.F. Codd, the father of OLAP who founded Arbor Software. In 1998, Hyperion Solutions bought Arbor. ShowCase, which was a publicly traded software company based in Rochester, Minnesota, established an agreement with Arbor for rights to port Essbase to OS/400. In 2001, ShowCase was bought by Chicago-based SPSS, and the rest is history.