June 27, 2013, by Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
One of the many challenges that Cognos BI users often face is the need to consolidate or merge one or more Cognos environments into another one. This may come about because of an acquisition or simply to try and achieve economies of scale by merging Cognos environments. Not surprisingly, there are few, if any, guidelines on how best to approach this. This article will cover a couple of approaches to consider using for doing this.
Best World Scenario
An ideal situation would be where you could have the least amount of work and disruption to the current environment(s) and have it happen quickly. What does this imply? The main things are:
- All of the data sources would be moved intact from one environment to another.
- Security would also move intact over to the merged environment.
- Users’ personal folders can be easily moved from one environment to another.
- You have no issues with the target platform or configuration and resources are not an issue. We’ll just assume that this is the case here.
While some of these may appear to be wishful thinking, let’s take a look at how a couple of alternatives stack up against them.
IBM Cognos provides the option of using a deployment to merge one environment with another. The advantages of doing this are:
- It’s a Cognos feature.
- Works for one existing environment to another and assumes the same version number or older to newer.
- Data sources and security move with the content.
There are some potential downsides to this approach that include:
- The deployment approach only works for public content. So unless all personal content is copied into a designated public folder before being merged you won’t be able to merge it. Each user needs to be tasked to do this and in a large environment with a lot of personal folders this approach may or may not work well.
- Unless all public content is moved together there may be dependency issues. This could be tricky because it assumes that all of what you’re moving is self-contained in terms of package dependencies, view dependencies, job dependencies, etc. One way to address this issue is to retain Store ID when performing the deployment. But even with this there could be potential problems with dependencies during the merger resulting in missing links.
- With data sources it’s all or nothing. You either move all of them or none of them when doing a Cognos deployment.
- Security – Assuming that both environments are using the same external security namespace you should be able to keep object security intact. But unless both environments external namespaces are identical then you’ll have to create a new namespace for the target environment or not migrate security.
Another option for consolidating Cognos environments would be to use a third party solution like Envisn’s NetVisn product. Its Promotions feature was designed for moving content from one environment to another as in moving content from a development environment to test but it can be used just as easily for merging all or part of one environment with another. Its advantages include:
- It has the same options on security that Cognos deployments have.
- Missing dependencies are automatically identified prior to moving for inclusion in the move.
- Content can be merged in manageable groups of objects.
- You can optionally validate reports on the target environment during the move.
- Personal content can be merged intact on an account by account basis or consolidated into a public folder as discussed above.
- Brings over data source and data source connection objects based upon model dependency.
- There is a complete documentation log of all objects merged.
- Works with different versions of Cognos.
This option also provides a lot of flexibility around merging content on a more selective basis than a Cognos deployment. That can be important if there is content that may not be needed in the merged target environment.
Merging or consolidating Cognos environments is increasingly common in today’s world. But to get it right it’s important to create a plan that lays out exactly what you need to do before you decide which option is best.
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