In exploring the use of Cognos PowerPlay with Analysis Services cubes, we soon become aware that there are multiple approaches to reaching our ends. In this article we will examine using Cognos PowerPlay’s “client” incarnation, PowerPlay for Windows. We will explore the components involved first, and then we will expose the steps of setting up connectivity with simple security (that is, security that is non-integrated between Access Manager, the operating system, MSSQL Server / Analysis Services, etc.). The integration of security for various elements is addressed in my upcoming article, Cognos for Microsoft Analysis Services Reporting: Establishing Integrated Signon, which is devoted to that sole focus.
PowerPlay Enterprise Server (“PPES”) acts as the OLAP application server for PowerPlay for Windows (as well as other Cognos components) for cube access. With PPES we can access not only Cognos’ proprietary PowerCubes and our Analysis Services cubes, but numerous other “third-party” cubes, such as IBM DB2 OLAP, SAP BW, and Hyperion Essbase, through the respective OLAP database servers. PPES also provides for client / user access to PowerPlay reports, which typically originate in a PowerPlay client application, via a report server. Load balancing capability is an important attribute in the highly rated PPES, which is designed to be multi-server and multi-process capable; with proper configuration, it can easily support multiple concurrent requests from both Web and Windows clients, which can be accessing reports and / or cubes.
As one might expect in any well-constructed client / server architecture, the server performs many of the heavy processing functions. This produces the expected result of making performance more efficient, because of minimal client processing and reduced data traffic between the client(s) and server(s) involved, both as a result of lowered need of the client to obtain such data, and in light of the fact that caching mitigates some of the need for communication.