What’s New in IBM Cognos 10.2.1
Update 9/9/2013 – Cognos 10.2.1 FP1 has been released – Click to learn more about how this fix pack adds and enhances important functionality of IBM Cognos 10.2.1.
On June 11th, IBM announced the release of Cognos 10.2.1, billed as a refresh pack, but loaded to the brim with new features, enhancements and improvements. The Ironside Group participated in the 10.2.1 beta earlier this year and had the opportunity to fully vet these new and exciting features and we have been anxiously awaiting general availability of this release.
Hands-down the most exciting new feature in Cognos 10.2.1 is the integration of the Rapidly Adaptive Visualization Engine (RAVE). You may have heard of RAVE, the engine behind the popular IBM Many Eyes community, and finally after years of R&D, Cognos users will have access to those same powerful capabilities, including:
- Over 20 new dynamic and animated visualizations (to start), which are available as free downloads from AnalyticsZone.com.
- A plug and play, customizable framework for charting. This means you will never have to wait for the next release to get the latest version of visualizations. We’ll also be able to customize and extend these visualizations to meet your specific business needs.
- Availability for use in IBM Cognos Active Reports (Download the demo Active Report)
With 10.2.1, IBM continues to stand its ground as the market leader in big data platform support. To say there has been a flurry of excitement and hype in this arena over the past 24 months would be the understatement of the decade. In our quantitative world of business intelligence, we measure true value in terms of actionable information. For the big data promise, that means the ability to actually analyze all of that data in a user friendly manner. IBM Cognos 10.2.1 continues to make good on that promise and close the functional gap between big data strategy and execution with its added support for querying and analyzing big data sources.
Support for Additional Hadoop Platforms
Cognos 10.2.1 adds support for the following new Hadoop platforms:
- Apache (Hive 0.8 and 0.9)
- Horton Works
- AWS Elastic MapReduce
- IBM BigInsights 2.1 via Big SQL (or Hive)
We’re really excited to see support for the top market-leading enterprise Hadoop platforms (Forrester) as well as integration with IBM Big SQL, which offers significant performance improvements and faster time to value than a traditional Hive solution. It does so by allowing you to query data directly where it resides in HBase / HDFS, rather than building a relational query layer. If you’re considering Hadoop as part of your modern data warehouse reference architecture, then you absolutely need to be looking at IBM Big SQL and BigInsights.
Support for New Analytic Data Sources
In addition to enhanced Hadoop integration, we also enjoy the addition of native support for a variety of analytic data sources. Nearly all of these sources are supported via IBM Cognos dynamic query mode, so this means all of the same intelligent query generation and in-memory application-side caching applies to further enhance the user experience. The newly supported data sources include:
- DB2 10.5 BLU (via DQM)
- Netezza 7.0 (via DQM)
- SAP HANA (via DQM)
- Teradata 14.1 (via DQM)
- Amazon Redshift (via ODBC)
All of the above are in addition to the already supported data sources: ParAccel, Greenplum, Aster Data, Actian Vectorwise, Vertica. Read further for a complete list of supported environments for IBM Cognos 10.2.1
Dynamic Cubes, the powerful in-memory analytics solution that came about with Cognos 10.2, has been enhanced in the following ways:
- Enhancements to the cube modeling environment to improve usability and stability of the UI.
- Major performance improvements that have yielded a 2x increase in dynamic cube response time.
- Memory optimization improvements that significantly reduce the memory needed to operate dynamic cubes. This translates to a lower initial investment in platform hardware, as well as reduced total cost of ownership.
- The ability to secure dynamic cube data with more fine grained control (dimensions, levels and level attributes.)
- The ability to drive cube security configuration from data base tables as well as dynamic refreshing of all settings. This is a major enhancement that elegantly solves common cube automation problems that have challenged organizations since the early PowerPlay days.
- Support for First, Last and Current Period aggregation rules. This will allow organizations to properly roll up measures that are semi-additive over time. Measures such as “inventory”, or “asset market value” which are rolling snapshots can now be properly included and aggregated in your cubes. This closes a functional gap between Dynamic Cubes and other OLAP technologies in the IBM Cognos family.
- You can now administer cubes across multiple servers in your IBM Cognos 10.2.1 cluster through a single centralized dynamic cube administration interface.
Cognos 10.2.1 provides incremental, but valuable improvements to the core self-service user interface known as Cognos Workspace and Cognos Workspace Advanced. Existing customers who have implemented this suite as their self-service solution will enjoy the additional functionality and improved user experience this update provides. Customers who are still using PowerPlay studio, Analysis studio, Query Studio or some combination of the three should feel more comfortable about planning a transition as part of their technology roadmap.
- Addition of a easy resize to fit option
- Sliders will automatically map to widgets that may have different names for the same source object (e.g. one widget references ProductName, and the other ProductName1, both will be mapped to the Product Name slider).
- Ability to update widgets within workspaces en masse so you can easily keep your dashboards fresh as the underlying widget sources change over time.
Cognos Workspace Advanced
- Ability to easily show values as percentage of total.
- Share custom sets between reports for easy reuse. This was a feature of analysis studio that may have kept some users from migrating to Cognos Workspace Advanced in the past.
- Enhanced dynamic text-filtering options which allow you to do “starts with”, “ends with”, “contains” and “matches SQL pattern”.
- Addition of a custom grouping option to the right-click context menu. This is a great usability improvement that will allow users to access one of their favorite self-service features faster and more intuitively than ever before. We’ve felt this belonged here for a long time and are happy to see this simple but incredibly useful update.
IBM Cognos 10.2.1 mobile was further enhanced with a focus on usability and simplicity. Some key features and improvements are:
- Performance and capacity of active reports were increased by 5 and 10 times respectively in this release, dramatically increasing the amount of data that can be contained in a single active report without affecting the user experience. This is a major update for those who have deployed or are considering deploying active reports, and for many will be a significant driver for upgrading to 10.2.1.
- Improved mobile user interface with an emphasis on a visual experience, with personalized backgrounds, sortable content and report previews without opening.
- Greater ease of use is provided through automatic server configuration (no more remembering complex URLs), support for multiple servers (great for Dev/QA/Prod configurations) and the ability to pause and restart content downloads.
- Large report performance was improved by enabling report streaming, one page at a time. No longer do you need for the entire report to download before viewing.
- High fidelity reports which include new touch friendly HTML5 prompts, the ability to render saved HTML outputs within an Active Report inside the native app, support for drill through actions and expanded support for custom fonts and styling.
- The native app now also supports the standard IOS pinch-to-zoom gesture.
- Mobile specific auditing is now enabled and allows administrators to track mobile activity within the standard IBM Cognos auditing facility.
Some significant platform advances were made in IBM Cognos 10.2.1 in the theme of improving the end-user experience and reducing the application total cost of ownership through intelligent administration.
Fresh New Look
The first thing most users will notice is a refreshed user interface in Cognos Connection. The default skin has been updated with a sleek modern palette that is visually appealing. In addition to the new skin, all icons and other portal design elements have been updated to be more appealing and intuitive. IBM Cognos has never looked so good, and has never been so intuitive.
Overall Performance Improvement
Once again we see an incremental, across the board optimization of the entire application platform. The result is a very perceptible performance increase across every aspect of the application. This includes all of the studios, report execution response times as well as just navigating around Cognos Connection. This responsiveness compounded by the updated look and feel has yielded in my opinion the most pleasurable user experience in the history of the platform.
Enhanced Multi-tenancy Support
Multitenant support is a powerful feature that allows platform owners to deploy Cognos to multiple independent customers or business units using only a single federated installation of the platform itself. This feature was introduced in Cognos 10.2, and expanded upon in this latest release.
- There is now a dedicated multi-tenant administration tab in Cognos Connection for ease of maintenance.
- Easily remove or temporarily lock out tenants from the system.
- Gracefully cancel all active user sessions for a single tenant
- Configure a default profile for each individual tenant in the environment.
- Archive or deploy public “shared” content in addition to individual tenant content in a single deployment.
- Run content store usage reports to determine a tenant’s contribution to the size of the content store. This is useful for organizations that employ a service model for platform cost allocation to business units.
- Rapid tenant onboarding without the need for complex security configurations.
Enhanced Report Output Archiving
Cognos 10.2.1 debuts a new component of the architecture known as the object store (not to be confused with the old object-oriented database used in Cognos Series 7 for content management duties). The object store is a new content management service that offloads the responsibility of storing and managing saved report output. Traditionally saved report outputs are stored directly to the content store database as a BLOB and retrieval can involve a significant amount of resources within the content manager component of the application. In addition, the storage of these objects within the database was the largest contributing factor to content store database growth. By moving the files to a file system where they belong, report output storage and retrieval times are reduced dramatically, the content manager processing load is reduced and overall application performance is improved. The end result is a business intelligence platform with that has virtually no remaining inhibitors to massive scalability. Another great aspect of this new feature is the ability to implement it in a trickle fashion rather than having to manage an application upgrade or change project. Simply enable and configure the object store, and over time report outputs will migrate to the file system, progressively shrinking the content store database.
Deployment of “My Folders”
The ability to deploy personal content that is stored in My Folders has probably been in the request queue since the first upgrade from ReportNet to Cognos 8. For some time user’s personal content has been hidden from the view of administrators (save some tedious searching through the user directory, building your own SDK application, or employing one of the many 3rd party applications that enable this). We can now create content deployments of users’ “My Folders” at a fine grain. This feature will surely simplify future upgrades which sometimes need to occur in piecemeal by business unit or user group.
Improved Environmental Support
- Windows 8
- Windows Server 2012
- iOS 6.0
- Oracle WebLogic Server 12
- Apache Hive 0.8 via Hive 0.8 JDBC
- Apache Hive 0.9 via Hive 0.9 JDBC
- BigInsights 2.1 via Big SQL
- DB2 10.5
- Informix 12
- MySQL 5.6
- Netezza 7.0
- Progress OpenEdge 10.2a
- Teradata 14.1 via TTU
- IBM InfoSphere Data Architect 8.5
- SAP HANA v1.0 rev52
- PostgreSQL (9.1+ Dynamic Query Mode)
- MySQL (5.1+ Dynamic Query Mode)
- IIS 8
- Internet Explorer 10.0
- Firefox ESR 17.0
- Safari 6 on Mac
- IBM WebSphere 8.5
- SAP NetWeaver 7.3
- Excel 2013
- Adobe Reader XI (v11)
- .NET Framework 4
- JAWS 14
Visit the IBM website for full list of supported environments.
How do I get to 10.2.1?
If you’ve read about a killer feature that you think will be a difference maker for your organization, or you’re currently still running Cognos 8.4 and need to upgrade before support expires soon, please send us a message or give us a call at 855-447-6674 (1-855-4IRONSIDE). The Ironside Group has a proven, tried and true method to rapid IBM Cognos upgrades that yields results in lower IT costs, faster time to value and less upgrade burn-out. We consistently deliver upgrade projects ahead of schedule and under budget.
If I understood correctly, RAVE is available only in Active Reports, correct?
Is there anything new in Report Studio, especially regarding charts?
As of the release of 10.2.1 FP1 on 9/9 – RAVE is now also available in Report Studio Reports and for consumption in Cognos Workspace.
Any word on actual performance on RAVE, etc? Is it a bell/whistle or just smoke and mirrors?
RAVE is the real deal and performance is great. From an active report perspective, it has changed what you can do in terms of visualizations within a single report. Prior to RAVE you had to incur the cost of storing every static chart rendering as a separate image which would increase AR file sizes quickly. With RAVE, you include the engine once (~2MB) and all of the rendering is done on the client side with the most minimal storage costs. Layer in features like built in statistical functions and animations and you have quite a powerful tool set at your disposal.
Ironside is also one of the only a handful of partners world-wide that have the capability to extend and customize RAVE visualizations to meet virtually any business need. Its truly a flexible engine that can support a wide variety of use cases, and I anticipate seeing RAVE as the future of visualization for the entire platform.
Let me know if you have any other questions.
Thanks for the precise information!
Thanks for a clear and concise update on the new features.