IBM has released the new version of Cognos Business Intelligence this week – version 10.2. The latest release contains welcomed updates as well new features across the suite of BI applications.
Instantly the first thing that you’ll notice is that Business Insight and Business Insight Advanced have been replace/renamed as Cognos Workspace and Cognos Business Workspace advanced. Other useful functionality to the workspace are that you can now create Multi Tabbed Workspace and you have a new control called an Action Button which you can program to trigger tab changes. Users familiar with Excel will be pleased to hear that you can now Freeze and Unfreeze column and row heading when scrolling. There is a Data Visualization Guide called Visual Recommender that will help you select the appropriate chart type based on your data values in your workspace, including reason for that decision. The ability to print your workspace has also been included in this release.
Technically it also includes support for Safari and Google Chrome.
This is a brand new feature and complements the Cognos existing OLAP technology. It is aimed at any organization with large or mature star and snowflake schemas that would like to provide their users with an OLAP experience without having to compromise on the data details or high performance.
- 100% in memory OLAP Engine for a high Performance, low latency user experience
- Aggregate Awareness to allow query routing to in-memory or physical aggregate table in the data warehouse
- Aggregate Advisor feature will monitor, recommend new physical aggregate tables and even generate SQL/DDL
- A new OLAP modelling tool
- Multiple Cubes can share conformed dimensions
This feature allows customers to move report output from their content store database to either their file system or FileNet but to also allow this output to be fully accessible through the Cognos Connection user interface. This feature also helps the Content Manager by helping to reduce load on this component by distributing the load of retrieving report output to the dispatchers in the environment. When archived output is requested by a user, the application tier dispatchers have a Repository Service that, when enabled, is responsible for serving archived output to the user.
This feature will be greatly favoured by storage administrators for database servers; now that Cognos content can be easily archived off into a file system relieving storage capacity strains on an ever increasing Content store database.
Cognos Mobile which was a major extension to Cognos BI functionality, brought in on the 10.1 release. As well as the continued support for the native mobile application across Blackberry OS and Apple iOS devices, Cognos Mobile 10.2 brings in additional functionality from both an application and administration side.
For BI report consumers on the go; the native Cognos Mobile application now features push notifications, which alerts users when a new version of a report is available.
Reports can now be streamed to devices as a pose to being downloaded to the device’s local cache. This is particularly useful as users no longer have to wait for a full report to download before viewing, reducing the wait time, especially over slower mobile networks.
Cognos Mobile 10.2 brings increased security features to Cognos Administrators. As well as the standard Cognos security controls in place with previous versions of Business Intelligence, administrators can now restrict access to Cognos Mobile on a ‘per device’ basis.
In addition to its already extensive support software environments, Cognos BI 10.2 now supports SQL Server 2012 hosts for Content Store, Audit and Report Data Sources. This also includes support for SQL Analysis Services 2012 Cubes. So now may also be the time to consider the upgrade of your SQL Server environment.
Up until the release of Cognos BI 10.2, specific components of the overall BI suite remained as 32-bit only products. Customers who wished to utilise 64-bit server components but still required the use of 32-bit only applications, were required to install a split 64/32-bit Cognos architecture, which added to the complexity of these environments. Cognos BI 10.2 is now a full 64-bit product across the board (with optional 32-bit still available). This will enable customers to maximise the amount of available memory across Cognos servers and therefore help to increase the potential environment performance. With a full 64-bit installation it will be possible to assign more memory to the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) which will result in greater performance when it comes to reports processing.
In light of the release of Cognos BI 10.2, could now be time to upgrade?
Simpson Associates offers Cognos BI Consultancy services delivering solutions for Cognos BI upgrades and new environment installations. Contact us for more information about how we could help.
A useful feature for importing an existing Contributor Application within the Cognos Planning Contributor Administration Console, if you haven’t taken a deployment using the export wizard is the ‘Link to Existing Applications’ option. This is available when right clicking on the applications root underneath the datastore.
Providing that you are importing the application back into the Planning Administration Domain (PAD) where that application was created from, the application will be imported and appear as it was before being removed.
However, what if you want to restore a model from a different PAD into a new one? Let’s say if you tried to import an application from your old Cognos Planning environment which has been upgraded and therefore decommissioned, you will find that you run into the below error message:
Each model is linked to a specific Planning Application Domain and will remain attached to that environment even when the environment is decommissioned. When an application is removed from the Contributor Administration Console by right clicking on the application and then selecting ‘remove application’, the link to the PAD is removed. However, in this scenario we don’t have access to the old Cognos environment and the application wasn’t removed from the old PAD. Don’t fret though; there is a way to get past this!
The PAD which the application is a member of is referenced over 3 records within the ‘adminoption’ table of the Contributor Application datastore and therefore these references can be removed within the underlying database. In return, this will remove the link from the application to the previous PAD.
To remove the reference to the existing PAD, you need to have access to the SQL Server which hosts the Contributor Application databases (this will be the database which is referenced under the datastores section within Contributor Adminstration Console) and be logged into the database engine via SQL Server Management Studio. Ensure that you take a backup of the database in question before you carry out the following steps.
1. Find the database for the Contributor Application which you are trying to link to and expand this, expand ‘tables’ and then right click on the ‘dbo.adminoption’ table and select ‘open table’.
2. On the ‘dbo.adminoption’ table which opens, find 3 records under the ‘optionid’ attribute called ‘PAD_GUID’, ‘PAD_NAME’ and ‘PAD_NAMESPACE’. Each of these 3 records will have entries under the ‘optionvalue’ attribute. Each of these entries under ‘optionvalue’ only, need to be deleted for these 3 fields to be left blank. Please note: you must leave all other record entries as they are.
3. Save these changes
These actions could of course be carried out on a restored application database, from a SQL Server backup job.
Once these actions have been carried out, you can now link to an existing application. These actions could also assist in DR situation where a Cognos environment needs to be recovered.
For help debugging Cognos 10 Active Reports, it’s possible to select a run option that shows the state of active report variables in the report as you click various controls:
With the Active Report open in Report Studio, select the ‘Run’ menu and click ‘Run Options’. Then select ‘Enable right-click debug menu’ and click ‘OK’:
From the ‘Run’ menu select either ‘Run Active Report’ or ‘Download Active Report’. When downloading the report ensure you save it as a .mht file.
Open the Active Report in Internet Explorer.
Right click in the Active Report and the debug menu will appear.
Select ‘Show Variables’ to display the variables window.
- As you navigate the report and variable values change, they are highlighted as shown above.
As part of on-going internal infrastructure projects, we have recently implemented new Endpoint security across our network namely Microsoft Forefront 2010. As part of the prerequisites for Forefront we needed to install Microsoft SCCM 2007.
The configuration of SCCM and Forefront generally went through without any issues, if not a lengthy process! Forefront automatically creates the client installation package and policy packages, which are used to apply settings to the client such as Anti-Virus scan schedules, Windows Firewall settings etc. So once SCCM is configured, the process of installing Forefront Endpoint security on top of SCCM is a fairly automated process in terms of configuration.
So far so good, SCCM fully configured and the Forefront client and policy packages ready to be pushed out to clients. I first of all choose to push out the Forefront client and policies to a client machine which was directly on our office network. This machine was added to a collection within SCCM where the Forefront client package was advertised to. The advertisement for the package was set to ‘Always rerun program’ so that there was no need to manually send out the advertisement to the client machine, this will automatically be sent out every time a new client is added to the related collection.
Clients directly inside the network could receive the package ok, but we also wanted packages to be sent out to clients which were connected via VPN and this is where the problem happened! The advertisement would make an attempt to be sent out to the client and the package would not arrive at the client machine, whilst connected via VPN.
So this made me question what was different been the clients directly on the network and those which were connected via VPN. One of the main differences in our case is that VPN clients are issued with a DHCP assigned IP address via our Cisco ASA Firewall. These addresses are in a different IP subnet than our internal office network, where our domain controllers and SCCM server sit. However, VPN clients still point to the same domain, domain controllers and DNS servers as clients in the internal office network.
There is a configuration setting within SCCM which allows you to specify what network or domain criteria clients need to match in order to connect to SCCM, known as ‘Boundaries’. To get to this within the Configuration Manager Console, expand Site Database, Site Management, SCCM Site Name, Site Settings and Boundaries.
There was already a boundary configured for clients which are a part of the domain where the local domain controllers are within a specific active directory site. However, this only covered clients which were within the same IP subnet as the active directory site.
Therefore I created another boundary as an IP address range rather than another active directory site. To do this I needed to be within the ‘Boundaries’ configuration as above, selected ‘New Boundary’ at the right hand side under actions, provided a description, selected our site code (in our case we only have the one SCCM site), selected the type as ‘IP address range’ and then entered the IP range which our Cisco ASA serves out to VPN clients.
Also another important setting in this configuration especially for VPN clients which will be connecting in through varying bandwidth speeds is to set the network connection type as ‘slow or unreliable’.
After this new boundary was created, I was then able to push out the Forefront client and indeed any other software packages to clients connected via VPN.
Our SCCM setup is a single server environment but it is possible to scale this out over several site servers. This would be particularly useful if you have a larger enterprise and therefore even the load out over several SCCM site servers or your domain is based over several physical sites/offices. Placing a SCCM site server at each physical location would mean that SCCM packages could be pushed out via the local site network, rather than using network links from the primary SCCM site location to secondary sites. If you were to go with the option of scaling out SCCM, you may find that you also need to create further boundaries for those clients at different physical sites/offices, dependent on what IP subnet they are within.
Following a recent support call I found a nice way of changing the overall look and feel of a Cognos 8 report that has been imported into a Cognos 10 environment.
When I looked at the XML of a new (blank) report in Report Studio 10 I noticed a new variable in the report header tag: useStyleVersion=”10″ (as shown below):-
A fairly obvious logical deduction followed, and I noted that in the imported Cognos 8 report the XML displayed thus:-
Surprise surprise, no useStyleVersion value to be found. With this in mind, a simple solution followed.
First, open the existing Cognos 8 imported report and ‘Copy Report to Clipboard’:-
Second, paste (CTRL+V) into a preferred text editor (in this case Notepad++):-
As shown above, insert useStyleVersion=”10″ into the <report> tag (on the first line).
Then, select all text (CTRL+A) and copy (CTRL+C).
Open a New -> Blank report in Report Studio 10, then ‘Open Report from Clipboard’:-
Et voila. Now you should have retained your Cognos 8 imported report in your Cognos 10 environment, but with the new Cognos 10 ‘look ‘n’ feel’.
If you receive this error message after installing IBM Cognos BI or Planning on a Windows 2008 64bit server:
HTTP Error 500.0 – Internal Server Error
The page cannot be displayed because an internal server error has occurred.
Then it is more than likely you haven’t enabled 32bit applications to run in IIS. Here are steps to do this:
1. Open Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager from Server Manager on your Windows server.
2. Open the Application Pools node and select ‘DefaultAppPool’
3. Right click and select ‘Advanced settings’
4. Click on the Value of ‘Enable 32-Bit Applications’, select ‘True’
5. Click “OK” to complete the Advanced Settings Dialogue
6. Now go to a command prompt and run an IIS Reset, seen here:
7. You can now access IBM Cognos Connection