Cognos Access Manager to Active Directory
Several long-time Cognos customers in Western Canada are still using Access Manager to manage security for their IBM Cognos BI environment. (You’re not alone!) It was a great tool that has some handy advantages for administrators, however it is outdated and there are many reasons to move over to Active Directory to manage security going forward. This includes compliance with other server upgrades.
We’ve been able to successfully help our customers in Calgary and Victoria make the transition to Active Directory smoothly and easily. Here are the steps we followed and some rough timeframes in case this is on your to-do list in the near future.
Steps to Migrate
- Purchase and install Avnet BSP Lifecycle SMSS software (we can help)
- Recreate Access Manager security structure in Active Directory
- Validate accounts and mapping between AD and Access Manager
- Migrate each environment (typically Dev, Test, and Production)
Keys to Success
- Basic functionality and user access needs to be tested. However the most important part of testing is to ensure all My Folder objects are available under the new security model.
- Who should test depends on the environment but it is recommended that each user logs in and checks that their My Folders objects exist in the migrated environment
- Minimize changes to accounts
- Freeze changes to Access Manager so account validation only occurs once
- Key user involvement for testing and sign-off
- There are several factors in the timeframe of this type of project, including how many other changes are being made at the same time, however if this is the only project and the basic security structure will stay the same then we can say moving one environment with an average number of objects will take 2-5 days, increasing the number of objects means an increase in the overall duration project. Testing can also increase the overall duration as it may take several days and even weeks before all users have approved the change and confirmed their My Folders objects exist and nothing is missing.
- It can be so much easier than you think to move over to Active Directory and shut down the old server that’s supporting Access Manager. Ask us how we can help. We can even do this remotely – we can help you wherever you are, not just Calgary, Alberta Canada. (That means US too, and with the Canadian dollar exchange rate we can make this very easy price wise too.)
We would be misleading you to suggest that this method is the only option for moving over to Active Directory – there are other software options and there is a manual approach, however this is the one that we recommend and can back up with happy customers.
Manually moving over accounts introduces greater risks of missing objects, missing scheduled tasks, etc., in addition the time it takes would quickly add up to the equivalent cost of the software purchase unless there are so few users and My folders objects that it wouldn’t be a significant amount of work or lost objects anyway
Other software options are available and should be considered however we like the Avnet BSP Lifecycle SMSS tool for the simplicity of moving all account objects directly over to the new Active Directory accounts. Other options provide an extra layer of mapping between the old and new accounts – this works well but again, we like the simplicity of running this once and being completely transitioned over to Active Directory.
Are you ready to move your Cognos security over to Active Directory? Give us a call and we can set up a meeting to review your environment and come up with some guidelines for making this move. We can meet locally in our Calgary downtown office, in your office or via a conference call.
Two Products for Business Analytics
IBM now has two business analytics offerings that our customers in Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have been using and evaluating. Cognos Analytics is the long standing product evolving from Cognos -> Cognos ReportNet -> Cognos Business Intelligence -> Cognos Analytics and now Watson Analytics – the new offering using cognitive analytics and natural language originating from Watson that competed on Jeopardy. With these two analytic products the question comes up – Which one do I need?
Cognos Analytics has evolved significantly from its roots in Ottawa, Canada back in 1969. The main selling feature for years was their PowerPlay Cubes for quick top down analysis, and slicing and dicing data in so many ways. The offerings changed significantly over the years but became a more complete offering in 2008 when purchased by IBM and combined with the extensive research and development and other tools that IBM has had to offer. The core of Cognos Analytics is still that easy access to corporate information – but with so much more now. Cognos Analytics is moving more and more into business users self service access to information. With both Cognos Analytics and Watson Analytics IBM is reducing the technical skillset needed for more advanced analytics – empowering users as they progress in this direction. This has been discussed previously in our post on So You’re Not a Data Scientist… So What! Cognos Analytics is a truly complete business analytics offering for professional reports, dashboards, self service information access, emailed reports and more. This one tool provides the complete picture of where you are and where you need to go. This is the tool that allows users to make analytics part of their daily work routine with information at their fingertips and a reduced IT backlog. In addition, the sharable features of Cognos Analytics helps to build a community within the organization – with the all important single source of the truth.
Watson Analytics is the new kid in town when it comes to Business Analytics. However, this does not mean it’s lacking in power. On the contrary, Watson Analytics is a very powerful tool that has many benefits to adding to your toolkit. The primary strength is in the simplicity – this is the epitome of empowering end users and reducing the necessary technical skillset. There is no need at all for an IT background or a degree in Statistics in order to find the gold in endless columns of data and even unstructured data such as social media analytics. Using natural language it becomes very easy to ask questions and immediately see reports that address those questions with options to drill in or filter to more specific data or alternative views to answer similar questions. Watson Analytics allows for immediate visual understanding of information with key exception reporting. No longer are you searching through data for a vital piece of information – this information stands out immediately.
Not only does a user not need to understand a SQL statement like
“Select name, location, age from table1 join table2 on table1.primarykey = table2.key where table2.lostTimeIncident > 2”
But that user doesn’t even have to drag and drop and create a report or design a report specification. A user can simply type in:
“Tell me about the lost time incidents”
Watson Analytics guides data exploration and by doing so a user can immediately see all of the lost time incidents and drill in to find any issues such as locations that are at higher risk, departments, etc.
Watson Analytics – More Capabilities
Watson Analytics can take things one step further with automated predictive analytics providing answers and new insights. Uncover patterns, correlations and key drivers in your data. Reveal unbiased insights – all without that highly technical data scientist skill set. Business users that truly understand their data will be empowered with new data discoveries. All of this with the ability to tell a powerful story through charts, dashboards and automated visual representations.
Watson Analytics also makes data preparation very easy – it can be as easy as uploading a spreadsheet of data or connecting to a cloud data source – with an automatically produced quality report. Refinement can be completed on top of this – creating new groups, calculations or hierarchies. All in an easy to accomplish fashion – easier than Excel. Then immediate guided exploration is possible.
One additional benefit of Watson Analytics is in Social Media Analytics. This provides a truly powerful and insightful view of your company or industry with insights about what people are saying including a sentiment analysis feature that quickly summarizes what people are saying to identify customer trends and consumer sentiment.
Curious about Watson Analytics? We can help you get set up with their free trial! To get your Watson Analytics Free Trial email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Watson Analytics Versus Cognos Analytics?
It’s great that IBM has these two products and they each have some very distinctive advantages. If you’re looking for business intelligence without a huge technical skillset you have options! So how do you decide which one you should use and why?
First of all with Cognos and Watson Analytics it isn’t necessarily an either/or decision. These two products serve two distinct needs and can effectively build on one another. It doesn’t have to be a choice of one or the other.
However, because there are distinct usages of each it helps to point out that Cognos Analytics excels at the operational reporting and providing easy access to accurate information, and Watson Analytics excels in the Data Discovery/Predictive Analytics/and Pattern Analysis area.
Cognos Analytics tends to be more focused on the professional report side with easy viewing and sharing of information. Watson Analytics leans towards data discovery – showing you what you didn’t know to ask.
When comparing Cognos Analytics and Watson Analytics what it really comes down to is if you’re looking for a traditional (but highly advanced!) business intelligence implementation with professional reports and a shared environment then Cognos Analytics is going to provide a next generation solution for your business. If you’re looking for new data discovery with a new way of analyzing your business including predictive analytics and social media analytics – then Watson Analytics is the answer.
We can help you discover what is best for your specific needs with a custom needs assessment. Call us for a needs assessment or for your free trial of Watson Analytics (587)-885-1090 or email us at email@example.com. It really can be that easy to make better decisions, quickly, and more accurately… today.
You’re not a Data Scientist – You Don’t Need to Be!
So you’re not a data scientist but you need more information to do your job. We can help. We have helped many customers just like you in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Saskatoon and Regina. Customers that have needed access to information and fast, needed to write a report without going to IT, or needed to make critical business decisions with up to date and accurate information. Even customers that had an idea to improve company performance but needed to show the numbers to prove it. This is what we live and breath…. bringing data together to show real answers, timely, and accurately.
IBM Cognos Analytics
We use IBM Cognos BI to set up systems for user self service. You no longer need to be a data scientist or an IT guru to get the answers you need. With IBM Cognos you can create your own report and have the answers at your fingertips.
You can also start with a dashboard to see your department and then drill into more detail. This helps you answer the questions you didn’t know to ask. Why is this area outperforming the other areas? Why is this manager underperforming? Then you can get to how you can help all areas increase their performance.
If you know the data is available and you want access at your fingertips we can help. The original Business Intelligence offerings were great options that allowed for clicking and drilling down to discover more detailed information. These quickly hit limits with data volumes, performance, and availability. Years of waiting to provide easier access to business users and true self-service capabilities has paid off. There are options now that we can set up systems and have business users accessing self service reporting options within weeks of starting the project. This enables users to get answers without needing an IT background and without being a data scientist. You can now do so much more than VLookups in Excel. You can drag and drop and create your own report within minutes and re-run it in seconds or schedule it to be delivered to your inbox on a schedule that works for you. These options are so easy now we hardly think to celebrate them. But, if you’re still having to call over to the local expert to run a report for you, or you’re re-creating the same report each month, or worse you can’t get the answers you need… this can change and it doesn’t take a University degree to change it.
IBM Watson Analytics
Even better than this self service report writing capability is the cognitive analysis available now through IBM Watson Analytics. This takes natural language questions and automatically responds with data displayed suited to the question asked. This is not just a step ahead of easy self-service acces – this is a leap and bound ahead. Simply entering “tell me what my department looks like” results in several graphical displays with different ways of looking at departments. If you like what you see you can see more of the same or click to filter the display in more detail. All of this without extensive setup times or expensive software costs. This really is Advanced Analytics made Easy.
Visit: IBM Watson Analytics – Take a look and then call us today.
Find out how to use IBM Watson Analytics and see how easy it is to do your job and use Advanced Analytics without being a data scientist. Call us for a demo (587)-885-1090 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It really can be that easy to make better decisions, quickly, and more accurately… today.