October 2019, by Elwood Philbrick, Envisn, Inc.
Change is constant in any Cognos environment and one of the more difficult challenges is managing routine day-to-day changes in a controlled manner. In most cases there’s likely no process for capturing changes in any formal way which means there is no record that shows what happened to individual objects (reports, queries, etc.) over time. In some environments, particularly those where security changes need to be monitored closely, this can often create a cumbersome manual system that ends up being both inaccurate and hard to maintain.
Ideally, we would like to be able to capture and track changes by individual object and as well as collectively for all changes but with visibility to key dimension changes – and do all of this automatically.
Some important dimensions in managing object change include:
- Object name
- User - person making change
- Change type – specification, security, schedule, configuration, etc.
- Action type – update, add, delete, move, etc.
- Metadata changes – details of the actual change made
- Change authorization – be able to track as a reference (if used)
In the examples here we are using Envisn’s NetVisn product which captures changes for Cognos Analytics.
In Figure 1 we see the change history for a report labeled Employee located in the folder BI Marketing. It shows User Name, Timestamp, Operation and change detail. Thus, we see the full history of changes to this object over time.
And because detailed changes are captured for every object in the Content Store it’s possible to store this in a way that makes it possible to retrieve and display the detail in whatever way is useful. We can look across the entire Cognos environment and analyze changes in virtually any dimension that may be needed. In this case (Figures 2 and 3) it’s done via NetVisn’s Audit Console that enables the user to analyze all object changes by change type, action type, object type, user name, etc.
In Figure 4 for example, we see an analysis of all Security changes made over the past six months. Note that the user has the ability to filter the analysis along multiple dimensions and also aggregate the output in virtually any configuration needed. And while this view is HTML, the data can easily be output to Excel or other formats if needed.
Managing object change effectively in Cognos should be the primary goal of every administrator. It provides up to the minute status of every change to every object across the entire Cognos environment along with the assurance of full accuracy. Security changes can be easily validated to insure they are consistent with defined policies. And with the right system it can all be done automatically.
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