By Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
Large, well established Cognos environments are often complex in how they are structured and administered on a day to day basis. The nature of the work involved in working with massive amounts of data, content, users, schedules, changes, etc. make this inevitable. But there are things you can do to simplify this and make it easier to manage your environment. Our goal here is focus on those things that can have the most impact on making this possible.
- Create a simplified security model that uses consistent rules for groups, roles and capabilities. If you don’t already have one in place, consider setting one up and migrate to it as soon as you have the opportunity to do so. A well designed security model will carry you a long way by avoiding dumb mistakes as it grows and evolves.
(See Envisn’s eBook on Mastering Cognos Security)
- Organize content for easy access. Having a clean, simple folder structure makes it easy for users to find what they need. Minimize levels wherever possible. Easy access also minimizes excessive report creation.
- Get rid of unused content. Administrators often don’t even know what reports or queries are being used but this information is essential. Content not being used should be removed or made inactive.
- Keep only what you need. Retaining versions of models, packages or other objects far beyond their needed time period results in poor performance. Models especially can be huge and take up a lot of storage space; get rid of them if they’re not needed.
- Archive saved output. In a mature Cognos environment saved output typically represent over 90% of the Content Store size. With the release of version 10.1.1 IBM Cognos announced the ability to archive Cognos content and still have it readily available. This often yields a major improvement in performance. Before this, the only option had been to retain content in the Cognos Content Store if it was still needed.
- Create focused Models and Packages. These should be optimally sized and focused to give developers easy access to the data sets they need and can rely on.
- Respect the distinctions between your environments. Development, test/QA and production need to be distinctly different and cutting corners in terms of how they’re used will only cause problems; sometimes big ones.
- Have the right tools that provide information on key parameters for your environment(s). Tools that can tell you things like:
• How large is your content store?
• How fast is it growing? Where is the growth taking place?
• Is security correctly applied? Are policies being followed? (One of our customers discovered that an external vendor was receiving unauthorized internal reports via email distribution.)
• Key information about actual usage; both for users and content.
- Create clearly defined roles and responsibilities around key tasks such as promoting content, making security changes, etc. The goal is not to create bureaucracy but to manage key areas in a controlled way. Things like:
• Readiness rules for deployment or promotion of content.
• Implement an automatic log of all deployments/promotions.
• Allow only authorized individuals to make changes to security.
- Be clear about your goals and how to achieve them. Simplicity and clarity are not the same thing, but they’re intimately related. Focusing on simplicity will usually bring more clarity to any subject.
Left alone, large systems evolve to become more complex on their own. Examine your environment to identify other areas where you can simplify. The obvious ones are in those where you spend the most time on a daily basis.
© Envisn, Inc. 2016. All Rights Reserved. Tools for Cognos