By Eugene Marcotte - Envisn, Inc.
In my last article I discussed the Cognos audit tables – what they are, what they contain and I provided a link to the sample Cognos Package that can be used to start reporting on events within Cognos BI. This is very useful to have sitting in a Cognos environment because it lets you quickly build administrative portals, using the provided reports, to help monitor what is going on in your environment. Not only that, because you have a package, you can build new reports off of the data if you find yourself needing something that isn't in a pre-packaged report. There is a limit, of course to how much info you can derive from using the audit tables directly, but it is a start.
There are other uses for the audit data. It is a relational database and can be connected to from any sort of software you may have for dealing with databases. For instance, when I am doing some work to try and debug code in our NetVisn product I often find myself needing to see a log of the actions that occurred, with their specific values in the database. I can fire up Microsoft SQL Server Management studio, paste in one of my queries with some custom joins, and view event history filtered, sorted and joined however I like – without having to go through the steps of making sure the Framework Manager model had it all.
Additionally, being a programmer I can query it programmatically. The beauty of this is that I can build real time monitoring tools to watch the database. For instance, I recently built a hack app to watch my development database. Here's a little screenshot:
The program is simple, it just has a background thread that keeps checking to identify if there are any new events in the action table and adds them to the top of the list. I can use this to watch for any new or strange data that needs further investigation. This screenshot also highlights one of the unfortunate parts of working with the audit data “as is’ – it is very irregular. For instance the 2nd and 4th lines should have some sort of text after the “->” but the table simply doesn't have any data there. Additionally note how the first and last lines appear to be the Cognos SDK search path syntax, but the middle row is a display path. These are just some of the issues one has to deal with building tools like this using the Cognos audit data.
Another way you might use this data is by building tables that join to it. For instance, you may have some 3rd party database that you wish to associate records into the Cognos audit database. You can build a mapping table between the two to easily join them. Additionally, you could then build a Framework Manager model to begin reporting on the joined data.
This is somewhat similar to how the UniVisn product works by keeping track of additional information about objects that can be joined with the audit tables to produce broader reporting capabilities about your Cognos BI environment. If you think of the Cognos audit tables as a starting point there are a number of useful things that can be done with the data.
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