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What Cognos Users Really Want

  
  
  
  
let the right one in

September 30, 2014, by Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
Often frustrated by their inability to get the information they need, Cognos users are looking to administrators for help in finding the right report without having to do a slow search through existing reports that may or may not meet their needs. This is especially true in larger organizations and those where Cognos BI has been in use for a while. Many of these rely on standardized reports and have been reluctant to give users the ability to create their own reports or queries.

Top 5 Cognos User Needs

An informal survey of users identified a number of suggestions for making standard reports more useful to users. In approximate order of importance these are:


Cognos Audit Data Meets the Content Store

  
  
  
  
datastreaming

August 7, 2014, by Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
Cognos audit data tables remain essentially unchanged since the release of Cognos 8.4 a few years ago so any extension of value from the audit data has to come from using what’s already there more creatively. At Envisn we’ve found some ways to do this by using the Cognos Content Store as a reference data source for the audit data. In this blog we will review three use cases where this can be done to provide greater insight into your Cognos environment:

  • Package Usage by Report
  • Dispatcher Usage
  • Report Run Type

 


How to Use Cognos Audit Data Creatively

  
  
  
  
audit data icon stream

May 30, 2014, by Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
The biggest challenge faced by Cognos administrators in any Cognos BI environment is having the tools and information needed to manage it. A key part of this needed information is a complete picture of usage and overall utilization. Creating this can be a challenge but once it’s done the payoff can be huge. In this blog we will focus on going beyond the basics and using the Cognos audit data in some creative ways.

Going Beyond Basics

Can you use the audit data available from the standard, out-of-the-box offering that IBM Cognos provides? Yes, but you’ll quickly find there are some limitations with what you get here. Our previous blog on Cognos Audit Extensions noted that the sample reports provided with this can be helpful up to a point but have limited dimensionality and measures. Moving beyond this requires some work unless you decide to purchase a tool that does this for you.


Advanced Tips for Cognos Audit Data

  
  
  
  
audit data 1s and 0s around globe

April 30, 2014, by Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
In recent blogs we focused on the Cognos audit tables and the audit extensions. We made the point in one of these articles that working with the Cognos audit data was important in understanding the data itself and how it could be used. So we thought it might be appropriate to pass on some tips of things we learned along the way that may help you maximize the value in creating a set of auditing tools for Cognos BI.

Our experience here has been one of discovery, which along with some tedious work, has helped in learning not only how to use the audit data to its fullest but to combine it with other data from the Cognos Content Store to improve the BI admin solutions we offer. We hope you find these tips useful.


Using IBM Cognos 10 Audit Extensions

  
  
  
  
magnifying glass looking at data

March 31, 2014, by Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
Released with the introduction of Cognos 10.1, IBM Cognos 10 Audit Extension was designed to fill in the cracks of audit coverage beyond the standard audit table coverage. Its purpose is to provide coverage of Cognos auditing into areas that customers have been asking for such as user data and capability assignments. Users have had difficulty complying with their licensing limits if they cannot track these on a day to day basis.

 


What’s Wrong with IBM Cognos Audit Data

  
  
  
  
data 1s and 0s

February 28, 2014, by Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
The title of this article has to be taken in the context of how Cognos administrators would like to use Cognos audit data. Many would like to be able to use the activity data in multiple ways to better manage their environment and know what’s of value to their users as measured by actual usage. So our focus here is on understanding what’s available out of the box and as compared to the ultimate vision of what may be possible.

 


Is Cognos PowerPlay Dead?

  
  
  
  
cognos powerplay

January 30, 2014, by Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
Introduced in 1990, Cognos PowerPlay set a new standard in terms of both ease of use and power in decision support technology. It quickly became the leading product in the OLAP market and helped make Cognos a leader in solutions that empower the user. Analysts credit PowerPlay and tools like it as having significantly broadened the market by bringing decision support tools into all levels of the organization. Users finally had the ability to align data with the questions they needed answers to.

Eight years after its introduction PowerPlay Web came along and it became one of Cognos’ most popular products ever.


IOD 2013 - What’s New in Cognos 10

  
  
  
  
10 painted on wood

November 27, 2013, by Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
In the three years since the introduction of Cognos 10 IBM Cognos has introduced a number of new things for the product including Dynamic Cubes, Cognos Cloud, Cognos Workspace and performance increases. One wonders at this point what it will take to move to whatever comes after Cognos 10. There was no obvious answer to that question as IOD 2013 came to a close but there were still a lot new things there to look at.

Major Things

Four main categories of enhancements in the latest release of Cognos 10 (ver.10.2.1.1):


The Ultimate Cognos Answer Machine

  
  
  
  
flying machine

October 29, 2013, By Rick Ryan, Envisn, Inc.
Our NetVisn product was designed to go broad and deep in terms of providing Cognos administrators and developers with the ability to manage key tasks and get answers to all of their questions, quickly and easily. Among its broad list of features are powerful analytics that cover everything from database and package dependencies to all dimensions of security and get what you want organized the way you need to use it.

The Challenge

But as good as these are there are still some things people want to know that we’ve never heard users ask for before. So for these we have created what we call custom queries that enable the user to get exactly what they need. Some of the ones on the growing list include:


Cognos Security – When is it Time to Start Over?

  
  
  
  
graphic of digital padlock representing cognos security

September 30, 2013, by Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
Cognos security is a key foundation of every successful Cognos BI environment. And while no environment likely ever fails because of security, unless it’s from a major breach, administrators frequently get to the point where the security model they have in place just isn’t working. This article is focused on some of the things Cognos administrators encounter that tell them they probably need to start over with security. Some of these are:

  1. The Cognos namespace is at odds with the external namespace, typically Active Directory or LDAP. The Cognos namespace may have been initially been based on the external namespace which is a good practice whenever it can be done. But over time they may have begun to diverge from each other making it difficult to leverage the external namespace structure in the Cognos namespace. Does this mean you cannot have a different structure between the two namespaces? Not at all. But it’s more efficient and easier to maintain the Cognos namespace over time if it’s able to leverage the external namespace. As they become more dissimilar over time it’s likely to be more difficult to manage Cognos security.
    The Cognos security model needs to be able to manage both growth and change over time and if it cannot do this effectively you may need to create a new one.
  2. The distinction between groups and roles has become muddled. Organizing members into groups and roles within Cognos is probably the most important factor in setting up an effective security model in Cognos. It’s best to use roles to control access to capabilities and groups to manage access to content. If this convention is not consistently followed security may become difficult to manage.
  3. Failure to understand access permission inheritance. Access permissions on content store objects are by default inherited from its parent. These of course can be overridden on an object and its descendants but security administration is easier when inheritance is enabled with a large number of objects. When security is overridden at lower levels it can be very hard to determine where overrides exist without specialized tools.
  4. Capabilities are not administered correctly. These are used within Cognos to control access to features and functions such as the reporting studios and the administrative tools. While it’s best to create new roles to manage user capabilities that match the distribution of your Cognos licenses, this is not always done making it very difficult to manage BI license compliance successfully.
  5. Too many people administering security. The real issue here is what often happens when there are too many people administering security inconsistently. Unless there is a common set of rules to use for Cognos security that are consistently applied then security problems are inevitable. For this reason it’s best to limit security administration to the fewest number of people practical and to make sure they clearly understand the security model and how it should be applied.

None of these issues are exclusive and there may be some overlap of these issues in any given Cognos environment. If you are running up against one or more of these issues on a regular basis you may want to think how to move to a security model that can better accommodate change and growth.



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