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IBM Cognos Review
Enables data warehousing and reporting. It provides a managed IT environment.


Valuable Features:

  • The solution is very flexible, but IT oriented.
  •  It is an enterprise level solution for BI that holds value in a traditional BI sense.
  •  It is a full platform that is designed for the full cycle (data warehousing to pixel perfect reporting).
  • It provides a managed IT environment.
  • It does not excel in any one specific area, such as in visualization. However, there appears to be a lot of development with complementary products such as Watson Analytics and TM1.

Improvements to My Organization:

We have been able to provide managed data sources and packages to end users. They can use this content to do their own reporting without IT assistance.

It is similar to a competency center, in which IT will help resolve or work on complex requirements or projects.

Room for Improvement:

I would like to see the following improvements:

  • Tools: Dashboards, visualizations, and the simplification of the available tools
  • Licensing: It is very difficult to know which studio needs to be passed to which users or projects. This is because licensing and tools are confusing and they overlap with one another.  Even for OLAP, there are issues with transformers, TM1, dynamic cubes, and compatibility with other vendors’ cubes.
  • Simplicity: There are CQM and DQM modes, so it can become very technical.
  • Consistency: They made a decision to deprecate Query Studio and migrate to Workspace Advanced. However, that did not happen. They wanted to push the new version which will deprecate Workspace Advanced as well.

Basically, Cognos has been a traditional BI platform.  Lately, there has been a trending push for more of a modern BI approach that is heavier on the self service side.  This approach does not care for the whole cycle of waiting on a request to go through the IT development chain in order to make it happen for the end user.

Use of Solution:

I have used it for about nine years. My company has been using it for about six years.

Stability Issues:

We are on Linux, so we rarely have stability issues. We could run into resource issues, but that would be space or hardware related.

Scalability Issues:

I did not encounter any issues with scalability. Cognos is very good at scaling.

Technical Support:

Vendor technical support could be improved. It used to be really great. However, it seems like the focus now is on newer development. The support may not be that good for the more difficult issues.

Previous Solutions:

When I came here, they did not have another solution. In my past environment, they had Business Objects, but ended up switching to Cognos for the flexibility it provides.

Initial Setup:

If you are doing a standalone installation, then the initial setup is easy.

However, if you get into a distributed environment and load balancing, then it requires you to really know the application well. You need to know about the server level for all of the configurations.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing:

Licensing has been simplified over the years. However, we do not like their Processor Value Unit (PVU) model and prefer the named user licensing route.

Pricing can be expensive depending on the number of administrators or developers. Regular consumer licenses do not cost as much. They also have a cloud solution.

Other Advice:

If implementing on-site, you will need to have skilled administrators and developers who are experienced with this solution. They are in demand, so they will command a high salary.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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