Cognos PowerPlay with Analysis Services Cubes Introduction and Scope

The PowerPlay Windows Client, known as PowerPlay for Windows in much of the recent literature, (we’ll abbreviate it as “PPWIN” for purposes of this article) provides an option for reporting from OLAP cubes. Client reporting / exploring of cube data is done over the network via PPES. The PPWIN approach is often promoted as being for “Power Users,” although I have certainly seen a mix of complexity in actual uses over the time I have implemented PowerPlay. True, a more powerful ad hoc capability is indeed possible with PPWIN, together with several more elaborate reporting features, but the Web reporting approach, which we overview in the upcoming Cognos for Microsoft Analysis Services Reporting: Using PowerPlay Web with an Analysis Services Cube,certainly has a respectable cadre of attributes that make it a considerably versatile and potent reporting option.

PPWIN allows for two “modes” of reporting, referred to as “Reporter” and “Explorer.” Explorer is a good choice for (as its name implies) exploring, or browsing, the information in the cube. Explorer provides a good “overall cube” view that allows us to examine cube categories, dimensions, measures, and other components, particularly in a “whole” view of the cube as a data source. Moreover, the Explorer mode allows us to easily present data as a “percentage of a whole,” for example as a percentage of the row, column, total and so forth.

Reporter works best when we have a specific requirement for information that we wish to present. Reporter allows us to perform calculations, and provides other “flexibilities” not found in the largely browser-esque Explorer.

An associated option exists for an Excel interface (PowerPlay for Excel is the name given this option), as well, which is implemented in Excel as an add-in, if the worksheet look and feel is desirable. If this option is selected, no further “client” application is required; many of the familiar PowerPlay client components appear within the enhanced Excel interface, although there are some limitations in choosing the Excel option over the pure PPWIN client.

Let’s take a look at how we set up PPWIN to allow us to connect to, and report from, an Analysis Services OLAP cube. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that we wish to establish simple security, meaning that you may be prompted for logon input at more than one juncture while processing. My reasoning here is that we want to understand the connectivity and data manipulation processes for PPWIN in a broad sense, as a separate step from delving into the somewhat intricate steps of establishing integrated security. Should you wish to establish integrated (also called “unified” of “seamless”) logon capabilities, after understanding the basics we cover in this article, I invite you to refer to my upcoming article Cognos for Microsoft Analysis Services Reporting: Establishing Integrated Signon.