Update: The articles are once again behind the IBM paywall.  Going to assume that is the policy from now on until something official from IBM says otherwise.  Lame.

I hate the way that when newspapers have to publish an apology, they cram them in to a tiny space somewhere on the latter pages.  So, a new blog post, rather than a footnote to the old one is deserved.  Although not really an apology, the spirit of redress is the same

Most (if not all!) the credit should go to @SethGrimes, who was the first to blog about this, unbeknownst to me and who also approached IBM directly.

It’s an excellent decision and made with some alacrity, given IBM’s size and doubtless spools of internal red tape.

So now, those interested in the Godfather of Business Intelligence (Hans Peter Luhn) and the (often unsung) pioneers of Data Warehousing (Barry Devlin & Paul Murphy) can read their seminal articles without let or hindrance from IBM.


Yesterday Jos Van Dongen (@JosVanDongen) discovered that H.P. Luhn’s seminal paper on Business Intelligence, dating from 1958 was no longer accessible from IBM.  (Edit: See also the ur-post from Seth Grimes on this – not the first time I’ve been a johnny-come-lately to a topic!) Not only that, but any attempt to read Barry Devlin’s work on Data Warehousing was also thwarted by the ominous-sounding “IBM Journal of R & D | IP Filtering Page”.

“The IBM Journals are now only available online for a fee.” Barked the page.

Instead of the prescient words of Hans Peter, one is now greeted by the announcement that you now have to pay to read the words of wisdom of the godfather father of BI, who happened to work at IBM.

I know these are tough economic times, and IBM need to extract every last cent from their assets too, but the benefits of associating IBM with BI giants such as Luhn and Devlin far outweighs the meagre revenue they will gain from those who are forced to subscribe just for the few BI-related IBM articles.

They should be shouting about their BI bona fides, not locking them up in a subscription to a journal that most people have never even heard of and are unlikely to spring $1000 for.

Maybe the best way is to have some kind of ‘Heritage’ collection, featuring the superstars of the IBM back catalogue which are made available for free.  These might even be promoted to improve IBM’s image as an innovator and not a staid old behemoth, associated with mainframe monopoly and expensive services engagements.

The other issue is the multitude of links out there from a wide variety of people including analysts, business intelligence practitioners, academics, students, even Wikipedia.  The Wikipedia definition of the term ‘Business Intelligence’ even includes a link to the paper. Over time, these links will either get removed, leaving Luhn’s work unread, just a name in a history of BI, or just serve to annoy those who come across them whilst researching and reading about BI, wondering why IBM is nickel and diming them.

Just in the small Twitter business intelligence community, there are quite a few people who have linked to Luhn’s paper:





Even an IDC report hosted by IBM and a history of BI on the Cognos site  by the French Museum of Informatics.

There are thousands more links back to this paper, after all, he is the godfather father of Business Intelligence, not just any old IBM researcher.

Edited April 28, 2009 5:44:29 pm GMT – preferred Mark’s suggestion of ‘godfather’.

Edited May 11, 2009 5:06:30 GMT – Link to Seth Grimes’ earlier post on this topic.