17 August 2013

IBM is winning with Cognos 10.2

IBM is winning with Cognos 10.2

Data Warehousing and BI are offered by a large number of vendors these days. Since W.H. Inmon “father of data warehousing”, defined data warehouse as: A data warehouse is a Subject Oriented, Integrated, Non-volatile, and Time-variant collection of data in support of management’s decisions, there have been several developments in BI generally. Real-Time BI has become a big issue these days. Big Data is another one. In your choice for a BI and Data warehouse applications and a comparison of vendors it is important to know what the goal is for your BI Data Warehouse. There is first the difference in methodologies, Kimball vs Inmon, is a first point to look at.

Which Data Warehousing Methodology is best? Which car is best? It depends!

I will briefly compare the main differences between Kimball and Inmon methodologies:

Operational Data Store (ODS)
Enterprise Data Model
Star Schema Datamarts
Yes [1]

 [1] Inmon’s Corporate Information Factory advocates the user of star schema’s to build data marts.

Inmon’s main tenet is that an Enterprise Data Model is required to underpin a Corporate Data Warehouse and Kimball makes no such claim.  In reality, most large corporates replicate operational table structures and data regularly into an Operational Data Store (ODS) which is an approximate union of the data models from each operational system.  So in a Kimball shop the ODS approximates a rough Enterprise Data Model, thereby closing the gap on the perceived difference.  However, Inmon does stress the importance of reconciling the Data Warehouse back to source, whereas Kimball provides no such emphasis.
Both propose Star Schema Datamarts, business driven incremental development involving prototyping iterations (Agile) and report/query delivery from relational databases directly or via OLAP data repositories such as n-dimensional cubes.

Here at UOW, we utilize our ODS as a rough Enterprise Data Model, we reconcile our Kimball fact and conformed dimensions as required, and build data marts using star schemas and n-dimensional cubes, from which data is extracted using Cognos Bi tools and native SQL.

 After having had a thorough look at which data Model you want to choose, which can be a lot more complex than just comparing them, depending on data volume, goal of analysis and drill downs required, performance is a next great issue to look at which entails choice of hardware, OS platform, and vendor.

Below is a comparison of three vendors, IBM, Oracle and SAP, which compares Business Intelligence (BI) Express Software Comparison for IBM Cognos 10 BI by IBM, Hyperion System 9 by Oracle, SAP Business Objects Edge Business Intelligence by SAP

From this comparison one can conclude that IBM is clearly winning overall. A comparison is always a temporary view on things and one can assume that the solutions from Oracle and SAP have improved since the releases compared, but so has IBM’s solution.

IBM Cognos 10.2 Enterprise was announced a short while ago, and with it comes increased usability, performance and a host of new features. Below we’ll take a walk through a few of these new features and highlight how they’ll impact your bottom line business.

Cognos Insight 10.2

Cognos Insight, released in Early 2012, is the Personal Analytics solution that has taken the marketplace and user’s desktops by storm, garnering a #1 ranking among all Self Service Business Intelligence Platforms in The Forrester Wave (Q2 2012). Cognos 10.2 continues to improve ease of use, and integration with IBM Cognos Enterprise to encourage collaboration and enterprise distribution while avoiding data silos that other competitive solutions can create. What’s the use of personal insight if the entire organization cannot stand to benefit?

Tree MapsCustomers and Partners alike have clamored for improved data visualizations and IBM has responded in kind. The addition of Tree Maps to Cognos Insight pays homage to the applied data visualization theories of luminaries such as Edward Tufte and Stephen Few and it is a theme that is quite prevalent in Cognos 10.2. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for Tree Maps in the enterprise studios as this is a Cognos Insight-Only feature for now.

Smart MetadataA new data discovery engine in Cognos Insight will automatically detect dimensional levels in hierarchies and even differentiate between numeric attributes and measures. This means users will spend even less time importing data, further shortening the learning curve of this already intuitive platform.

Drill-able, Drag and Drop Charting and Top/Bottom FilteringUsers can now drill up and down directly on charts, just as is possible in Cognos Enterprise, and they can also drag and drop dimensions and measures directly onto charts as opposed to having to retain a crosstab in prior versions. Also included is rapid top/bottom filtering in Crosstabs that is always a simple right click away.

Package ImportPrior to this latest release, users could import data into Cognos Insight from existing IBM Cognos Reports. IBM takes the story of unified metadata one step further allowing users to source data directly from the same ad-hoc reporting packages that are published in the Cognos Enterprise environment. For IT and business alike this means master data management and data governance from the enterprise to the desktop: unified business logic and terminology at every step of the way.

Time RollupsCognos Insight now has out-of-box functionality to build custom time dimensions or roll-ups. Populate entire years regardless of how sparse your data may be or customize it to match your organizations fiscal calendar.

High Fidelity PublishCustomers who also have IBM Cognos TM1 Enterprise can publish their Cognos Insight dashboards to Cognos 10.2 Enterprise as full-fledged, tabbed Cognos Workspaces. This means that Cognos Insight users can share their analyses with other Cognos Enterprise users who do not have Cognos Insight capabilities. This is huge from both a customer licensing and a usability perspective as prior releases required that any users who wanted to view an Insight dashboard must have Cognos Insight capabilities, which came at the higher Advanced Business Author licensing level. To view a Cognos Workspace a user need only be at popular Enhanced Consumer license tier.

 Cognos Workspace (Formerly Business Insight)

It seems a little strange to say we’re glad that IBM Cognos 10.2 delivers fewer “insights”, but the renaming of Business Insight and Business Insight Advanced to Cognos Workspace and Cognos Workspace Advanced respectively, is a welcome change. Hopefully this will help to ease some of the confusion that’s arisen in recent years among a myriad of “insight” labeled components in within the IBM Business Analytics solution portfolio. Along with this re-branding, come a number of useful new features.

Multi Tabbed WorkspacesA major enhancement to Cognos Workspace is the ability to easily create multi-tab workspaces enabling you to expand your workspace’s visual footprint without the need to scroll. With tabbed workspaces also comes a new control known as an Action Button which can be programed to trigger tab changes.

Freeze and Unfreeze Column and Row HeadersExcel users rejoice, they’ve added the functionality to freeze and unfreeze crosstab column and row headers while scrolling.

Data Visualization GuideAs mentioned previously, the theme of applied data visualization theory is a recurring one in Cognos 10.2. The new Visual Recommender in Cognos Workspace will help you to select the appropriate chart type based on the data values in your workspace, along with some insightful rationale for that decision.

Graduated CapabilitiesAdministrators can now assign graduated capabilities to the Cognos Workspace tool. Users can have the option of Authoring, Interacting or just consuming any Cognos Workspace. This is useful in controlling the available Cognos Workspace feature set for governance purposes, or to even further simplify the experience to drive adoption in a user population of diverse skill sets.

Other FeaturesCognos workspace 10.2 also brings support for printing and use in Google Chrome and Safari.

 Cognos Mobile
Cognos Mobile was a major focus in the 10.1 (General) and 10.1.1 (Refresh Pack) releases, with outstanding functionality and support across a broad set of devices. In 10.2 Mobile sees a few minor, but noteworthy updates.

Push NotificationsCognos Mobile now supports push notifications to the status IOS status bar in the iPad app – users can now be notified when a new version of their report is available, further reducing the latency in decision making on the go.

Improved Performance of Multi-page ReportsMulti-page reports can now be streamed to devices, reducing the loading time. Users no longer have to wait for the entire report to download before viewing.

Administrators Can Now Secure Mobile AccessA new mobile capability in Cognos Administration allows administrators to govern access to Cognos via Mobile devices. This has benefits from a governance perspective for all organizations that deploy Cognos Mobile, especially those that employ a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy.

Report Studio

Report Studio, the work-horse of the IBM Cognos solutions suite, receives a few minor, but high impact updates in the IBM Cognos 10.2 Enterprise release.

Prompt APIThe new prompt API is a long overdue and welcome update to Professional Authors and Report Studio hackers everywhere. The API is 100% documented and supported, and like any good API can be expected to persist across future product renditions. The API provides a documented method for setting, reading, deleting and validating prompt values using JavaScript. The API is supported in Report Studio, Cognos Viewer, Cognos Workspace and Cognos Workspace Advanced.

Excel ImprovementsExpect improved Excel compatibility of Cognos report outputs with increased spreadsheet maximums to 16,384 columns by 1,048,576 rows. Cognos 10.2 also brings a brand new Excel output format called Excel 2007 Data which is perfect for lightweight data transfer to Excel without any report formatting.

Dynamic Cubes

By far the most exciting new feature in Cognos 10.2 is the addition of a new OLAP technology to the IBM Cognos solution suite which in conjunction with pre-existing OLAP options provides developers with the option of the right tool for the job at hand. The Dynamic Cube solution builds upon existing Dynamic Query Mode (DQM) functionality to close a major gap that exists in many vendor OLAP offerings: the organization with a large or mature star or snowflake schema data warehouse that wants to provide an OLAP experience to their users without sacrificing data details or high performance.

Here are a few highlights of this new feature:

     100% In-Memory OLAP Engine for a high-performance, low-latency user experience.

     Minimized access to the underlying data warehouse.

     Security aware caching features.

     Aggregate awareness to allow query routing to in-memory or physical aggregate tables in the data warehouse.

     Aggregate Advisor feature will monitor, recommend new physical aggregate tables, and even generate SQL/DDL.

     Uses a new OLAP modeling tool called Cube Designer that should be intuitive to developers with previous OLAP experience.

     Multiple cubes can share conformed dimensions.

     Use of Multi-Pass SQL is easy on data warehouse server resources and DBA’s alike.

     80 times faster than similarly modeled dimensionally modeled relational (DMR) data sources.

Transformer and PowerCube loyalists (ourselves included) can breathe easy as this new technology is not a signal of their decline. Dynamic cubes are meant to complement existing OLAP technology and provide developers with the most appropriate option for every scenario, rather than trying to force a one-size-fits-all solution.

Architecture and Environment Support
New Data SourcesWith every release we see exciting additions to the list of supported environments, and Cognos Enterprise 10.2 is no disappointment. You can expect full support for a number of new data sources, a few of which are listed below:

     Big Data Support: Hadoop / Hive via JDBC Connector

     SQL Server and Analysis Services 2012

     Salesforce.com (Native DQM)

     SAP ECC (R3) (Native DQM)

     Siebel (Native DQM)

The big news here is native support for Big Data and seamless integration with IBM InfoSphere BigInsights (Hadoop). Additionally, native support for a number of ERP vendors has been added to Cognos via Dynamic Query Mode for increased performance and reduced implementation complexity. Prior to 10.2, support for data sources such as Saleforce.com, SAP ECC and Siebel required a connector via Virtual View Manager (VVM).  We should also note that VVM 10.2 will be the final release of this solution, and while it will continue to be supported, developers should take note that it is now deprecated in favor of DQM.

100% 64 BitThese remaining 32 bit components of IBM Cognos 10 get an update for full 64 bit compatibility: BI Gateway, Metric Studio and Data Manager

Multi-Tenant SupportCognos 10.2 now supports native multi-tenancy. While this feature may not have mass appeal, it will be incredibly valuable to certain IBM Cognos OEM partners as well as organizations that have deployed Cognos in a federated manner and are looking to more easily segment different business units or sub-organizations within their shared IBM Cognos platform architecture.

Content ArchivingLast but not least, Cognos 10.2 now natively supports fully integrated content archiving to a file system. This feature will be coveted by organizations that have content retention and audit requirements that are looking to keep their Cognos content store free from large report outputs to maximize their environmental performance. This new feature has much of the same archival functionality that IBM FileNet customers have enjoyed since the 10.1.1 release

Some in depth information about the new features can be found in this webinar 

In this webinar you learn why Cognos 10 begins a new series of innovations for business analytics by expanding traditional business intelligence capabilities. You will learn how Cognos aligns information and the decision process so you can collaborate across the organization to turn data into insights.

IBM Cognos 10: The product vision, Eric Yau, Harriet Fryman and others explain the motivation and vision driving the creation of IBM Cognos 10

IBM Cognos 10.2 Overview:

Business Analytics Diagnostic Usability Matrix


IBM Cognos 10.2 New Features Presentations:

The following topics describe the new features for 10.2.0. 64-bit IBM Cognos gateway

 In earlier versions, if you installed 64-bit versions of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, only 32-bit versions of the gateway component were available. In this version, 64-bit versions of the gateway are also available. You can take advantage of the 64-bit hardware and the new 64-bit libraries.

Configuration of multi-tenant applications in IBM Cognos Configuration

 You can use new properties in IBM® Cognos® Configuration to configure Business Intelligence environments supporting multi-tenant applications.

Predefined LDAP configurations

 In IBM Cognos Configuration, you can configure your environment by selecting from a number of predefined LDAP authentication namespace configurations.

Option to view the status of silent installations on the screen

 You can use the -displayLog option to view the status of the silent installation on the screen.

Option to initialize Cognos Configuration from a different file

 You can use the -startupfile path/filename.xml option to specify a startup file other than the cogstartup.xml file when starting the IBM Cognos configuration tool.

Listed below are features that are new in version 10.2.0 of IBM® Cognos® Business Intelligence.

Multiple tenant environments

Multi-tenancy provides the capability to support multiple customers or organizations (tenants) by using a single deployment of an application, while ensuring that each tenant can access only the data that they are authorized to use. Such applications are called multi-tenant applications. Multi-tenant applications minimize the extra costs associated with these environments.

Support for bidirectional languages

The bidirectional features supported by IBM Cognos Business Intelligence include bidirectional text, digit shaping, and object direction in reports.

Restricted access to Cognos Mobile

 You can now restrict access to IBM Cognos Mobile using the Mobile secured function.

Improved search with field-level search capability

 IBM Cognos Connection search delivers more relevant results, faster.

Excel 2007 Data report output format

 The Excel 2007 Data report output format enables you to generate native Microsoft Excel 2007 spreadsheets containing list report data for further manipulation.



 This is a 5 part series that takes a ground-up approach to designing reports for performance. Beginning with data access strategies and followed by metadata modeling tips, viewers will delve into various best practices for report design and learn how to ensure that reports are optimized for performance. Topics span various IBM Cognos Business Intelligence roles, including administrators, metadata modelers, and report authors.

This video contains the introduction and data access strategies.

For more IBM BA Proven Practices content, please visit http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/analytics/practices.html

Data Science Central - The Online Resource for Big Data Practitioners

IBM Dev Ops

 Big Data News:

IBM Cognos 10 - Collaborative BI
See a full product demo using IBM Cognos 10 BI and IBM Lotus Connections here: http://bit.ly/gOTlg1

The Boeing Company chooses IBM Cognos 10
Even the BEST BI cannot prevent manufacturing errors from third party suppliers, but can help analyze the weak spots. Think of the battery problems from Boeing, IBM BI certainly can help analyze and pinpoint the issues to look at for you. Just ask the right questions with your BI solution. Big Data or Data Warehousing IBM Cognos 10 can help you with IBM DB2 10.5.

Analytics: the real-world use of big data
This new study, from the IBM Institute for Business Value in partnership with the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, explores how organizations are leveraging big data to create competitive advantage in the marketplace and reflects input from more than 1,100 business and IT executives, in 95 countries, combined with executive interviews and case studies.

To download this study, go to http://www.ibm.com/2012bigdatastudy

Understanding the Impact of Smarter Analytics

IBM Smarter Analytics tranforms organizations by providing access to all information, delivering insights to all people, and improving all decisions (from tactical to operational). Learn more: http://www.ibm.com/SmarterAnalytics


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Drs. Albert Spijkers
DBA Consulting
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