IBM Cognos Review

It succeeds as a complete solution, however specific offerings, such as interactive dashboards, are still lagging.

What is most valuable?

The report designer, Report Studio, is incredibly versatile and easy to use. Reports can be served in multiple formats, such as PDF, HTML, Excel, or even as a JSON data source. The meta-modeling tools allows for a complex security system which can automatically filter data, in any report or ad-hoc tool, based on a user's roles or groups.

How has it helped my organization?

The use of ad-hoc tools, like Workspace, has reduced the number of design requests, freeing the reporting team for more pressing and difficult problems.

What needs improvement?

Dashboards are slow compared to other tools currently on the market. Visualizations are improving, but still difficult to get just right. The default mapping solution included is only useful for the most basic requirements.

For how long have I used the solution?

9 years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Some users are afraid using adhoc tools. Migration projects which fail to take into account the different strengths of Cognos, demanding 100% pixel perfect migrations, will often fail.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The querying engine occasionally chokes on very large or complex datasets. Poorly designed meta-models can also cause trouble. Cognos will occasionally create dump files that can be larger than a gig each.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

International distributed systems can have latency and consistency issues. The default round-robin load balancing works well, but the admin needs to remember to configure the weighting correctly.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Enhancement requests take a very long time to get into production. IBM works on the "squeaky wheel" principle.

Technical Support:

IBM technical support can usually solve any problems. If it's not something they've run into previously, it can take a long time to get a straight answer. They provide hotfixes for really urgent bugs that are affecting production.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Most of my clients are long time Cognos users. Some of them are migrating away from Hyperion Brio because of lack of support.

How was the initial setup?

At the most basic level, Cognos is a "next-next-next" install. While this works for very simple, low usage systems, in order to really get the most out of it it requires a great deal of tuning.

What about the implementation team?

As a consultant, the vast majority of my clients hire out the development team. A few times I've been brought on to provide additional temporary support or training.

What other advice do I have?

Hire experts to come in and do the initial setup and meta-model. Learn from them. Get training. Training is invaluable when it comes to using the various tools.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: I am a Business Partner with IBM.
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