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Cognos tool eases selling data

The database tool allows users to package, distribute, meter, and sell information directly from a database over the Internet or an intranet.

Pssst! Hey buddy, got some data to sell? Then Cognos wants to talk to you.

The Burlington, Massachusetts-based firm unleashed today DataMerchant 2.0, the second generation of its database tool that allows users to package, distribute, meter, and sell information directly from a database over the Internet or an intranet.

The product is designed for companies that sell data such as demographic information or that want to let suppliers and partners view product information and customer profiles stored in a database. For instance, a market research company might use DataMerchant to provide detailed data to its customers on consumer spending habits. By entering a user name and password through a Web page, marketers could query databases to find out just how many CDs 18-year-olds to 24-year-olds buy in a typical week, or other specific information.

Enhancements to the new DataMerchant include a new auditing feature, interfaces that adapt to user profiles, and wizards for creating data merchandising applications.

The auditing tool tracks transaction activity for billing or auditing purposes such as number of rows returned or columns accessed. DataMerchant also has a tool that allows an administrator to define what information individual users are allowed to see.

Cognos is also calling on integrator Prism Resources in Omaha, Nebraska, to offer customers the services for building the infrastructure to deliver data over the Internet.

Under the terms of the agreement, Prism will provide the integration services for building an Internet-based data commerce system based on Cognos's DataMerchant product. The idea is to give users an outside source for building the system without having to dedicate their internal staff.

The price of the service varies. However, DataMerchant 2.0, which runs on Windows NT, costs $65,000 per server and is now available. It supports Oracle, Sybase, and Microsoft SQL server databases among others.