Cognos Construction and Support

Within the Construction and Support class, I like to include components of the Cognos BI Suite that are used to either develop, extend, maintain or support BI solutions. The main components that I will address in this article are DecisionStream and Architect. There are others, of course, but these are commonly encountered in the realm of construction and support.

As many of us are aware, DecisionStream is a multifaceted tool whose main focus is data mart creation and optimization. Like most of its ETL application peers, it gathers data from the various sources and stores of the organization, and provides you with a means of designing and populating meaningful star or snowflake schemas to house your relevant business data, often after transformation has been performed as a part of ETL. DecisionStream also assists you in designing and building dimensional models for reporting and analysis. The tool offers optimization capabilities both during and after construction of your repositories, and assists you in various other ongoing maintenance actions, such as the handling of slowly changing dimensions (SCDs).

A DecisionStream display.

Cognos Architect is a metadata management tool that is well fitted to build an integrated BI solution from the ground up. Constructing your BI infrastructure with this tool means that common definitions can be shared among organizational BI applications, reducing work and providing consistency throughout the foundation of the enterprise’s BI system. Metadata management can be handled from a central location with relative ease, business rules can be shared throughout applications and functions, and the presentation of data can be supported from a common metadata layer, as well. In my opinion, Architect is one of the most underutilized, and least understood, “diamonds” in the Cognos crown. I have witnessed many implementations over recent years where Architect might have had much to offer, but where its “optional” nature (and the failure of the implementers to fit it into the implementation project) has resulted in this valuable tool being left by the wayside.

A combined view of the three Architect metadata layer tabs, which represent, in effect, the steps of design within the tool.

Other Components and Considerations

Keep in mind that other Cognos tools and components / subcomponents exist that, while out of the mainstream, might be just the ticket to meet your specific BI needs. The suite also contains many tools, most of which we have discussed above, that support functions within more than one of the classes I have defined above. This has been an attempt to familiarize you with the basics about the components of the Cognos BI suite, and we will discover together many of the intricate details of the individual members of the family as we share the practical articles that lie ahead.