Managing & Monitoring Cognos BI Systems
Date: 29/07/2013

BY NIKITA ATKINS, PRINCIPAL CONSULTANT

Cognos BI systems can grow quickly and as a result Cognos Administrators often feel that the system is getting 'out of control'. There is good news however thanks to a series of tools that allows you to monitor and manage the Cognos environment.

Cognos Auditing

IBM Cognos BI Enterprise provides a complete auditing capability that permits administrators to report on and manage system usage. By default, system messages, errors, and other product details are logged to flat files that reside in the <c10_install>/logs directory, however you can configure it to write to a database which allows you to run out-of-the-box audit reports.

The Cognos BI Audit deployment package can be found: <c10 install>\webcontent\samples\content\IBM_Cognos_Audit.zip

With the Cognos BI Audit package, Administrators can run the following reports:

  • Agent execution history by user
  • Daily average and poor exceptions - all services
  • Execute reports by package and report
  • Execute reports by user
  • Logon operations by timestamp
  • Report execution history (detailed report)
  • Report usage
  • User session - logon erros for past 30 days chart
  • View reports by package and report

Cognos Logging Levels

There are five levels of logging which controls what is sent to the audit logs/database. While the default is ""Basic"" these can be adjusted via the System tab in Cognos Administration. Key Logging Levels include:

Activity

Minimal

Basic

Request

Trace

Full

System and service startup and shutdown, runtime errors

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

User account management and runtime usage

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

User requests

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Service Request and Response

   

Yes

 

Yes

All requests to all components with their parameter values

     

Yes

Yes

Other queries to IBM Cognos components (native query)

     

Yes

Yes

Cognos Audit Extensions

While the standard auditing features that come out of the box with IBM Cognos BI cover many aspects of operation, some areas such as the auditing of users and capability assignments are not included. The aim of the c10AuditExtension application is to provide additional auditing for these areas. These include:

  • Account Audit: An audit of all the user accounts that are found in all configured namespaces and certain properties of those accounts. This allows reporting on the IBM Cognos user base and provides additional information to go with the role/capability audit. This type of audit will also by default record the content of users' My Folders.
  • Content Audit: An audit of all the objects that exist in the main Content Store. This audit will process through the content store tree and log all the objects (folders, reports, queries, etc.) that it finds. It will log the basic information (such as name, search path, object permissions, created and modified date), as well as some details more specific to the item types (such as the specification XML of reports and queries, and saved parameter values applied to saved reports and the details of report output versions).
  • Status Audit: An audit of the current state of a server and related dispatchers. For each dispatcher registered in the target system, the configuration and activity will be logged, saving information such as time taken to connect, number of active processes and request duration.
  • Role/Capability Audit: An audit of all capabilities (such as reporting authoring) configured in the Cognos namespace and which roles, groups and users have been assigned access to those capabilities. Where a role or group is assigned access, the audit will log all the individual users that make up the role or group, so it is possible to accurately determine which individual users have access to a given capability.

Cognos Content Store Auditing

The Cognos Content Store lies at the heart of Cognos BI. However it can be very difficult to decipher what is available in Cognos and who has permission to see which reports. Auditing and exploring the Cognos Content Store can be easily performed thanks to MotioPI.

MotioPI is a powerful FREE tool for Cognos BI that comes with 11 panels of utilities that allows Cognos Administrators to audit and manage the Cognos Content Store. These include:

  • Recover deleted Cognos user content
  • Ensure correct security roles are set
  • Batch validation for Cognos objects
  • Inspect contents & storage usage across all users' ""My Folders""
  • Document scheduled jobs
  • Manage Cognos report outputs
  • Details of dispatchers, data sources, and more
  • View report specifications

Change Control, Testing and Release Management

Often in decentralised self-service report authoring environments, changes to reports can cause rapid growth in the size of the content store and cause increased risks from uncontrolled changes.

MotioCI integrates with Cognos through each stage of the business intelligence life cycle - from the initial development process to testing, to deployment and on-going maintenance. MotioCI provides higher performance, quality and manageability of Cognos through its unique blend of capabilities in version control, release management and automated testing.

MotioCI's version control captures the Who, What, When and Why changes are made in Cognos. This includes:

  • Version all Cognos Object Types, Anywhere in the Content Store
  • Version Framework Manager Models, Transformer Models, etc
  • Version All Properties
  • Recover Deleted Content
  • Studio Integration & Exclusive Locking
  • Integration with Defect Tracking Systems such as Atlassian JIRA

MotioCI's automated testing continuously monitors Cognos environments, uncovering issues early in the development cycle before they become critical defects. This includes:

  • Regression Testing for Executable Content (reports, active reports, queries etc)
  • Regression Testing for Non-executable Cognos Content (folders, dispatchers, data sources)
  • Unlimited Regression Test Scenarios
  • Regression Testing for all Output Formats (HTML, SQL, Excel, etc)
  • Stress Testing for Cognos
  • Continuous Verification of Cognos Content

Lastly MotioCI provides comprehensive Release Management for Cognos BI, which provides a better method for automating and specifying when and what content to deploy to new Cognos environments. Features include:

  • Deploy Versioned Content
  • Full Featured Content Labeling
  • Scheduled Deployments
  • Promotion to Multiple Cognos Environments
  • Impact Analysis of Staged Content Deployments
  • Automated Promotion Upon Validation
  • ""Undo"" Promotion Button

More Information

For more information on how to improve the management, monitoring and administration of your Cognos BI system, please contact us at info@cornerstone.com.au