Review: IBM Cognos BI v10.2 Administration Essentials

Part of my job as an Admin is to understand all aspects of the Cognos environment, from configuring and tuning distributed systems to being able to decipher the cryptic error messages that occasionally plague the users. Obviously this book is not for me. This book is more geared for beginners, as it says in the beginning:

Who this book is for
This book is for beginners planning to learn IBM Cognos BI Administration 10.

So, with that in mind it’s important to remember that experienced admins can skip the book. It is the people with little or no administrative experience who will benefit most from the book.

My concern is the length, at 128 pages there is simply not enough room to go into detail on everything. While it gives descriptions on the various tabs and settings of the administration page, I would have preferred more explanations on the settings and their effects.

Despite the brevity it does cover, albeit briefly, the various elements that are involved in the administrative process. The chapters are split by area of interest, configuration, components, security, etc. It describes the what happens when Cognos gets a request and the path the request takes from the gateway through the dispatcher. It explains the authentication and security system fairly well. Most importantly it also provides advice for new admins on how to run the system.

Ultimately I believe the book succeeds in its goal, namely taking people to the point where they can keep a Cognos server up and running.

You can find the book at the PacktPub website here.

Review: IBM Cognos Insight

While I’ve got a bit of experience working with the various Cognos studios, I haven’t had much chance to play with Insight. Fortunately I have IBM Cognos Insight, by Sanjeev Datta.

As a in depth study, it is a bit lacking. The book doesn’t get into serious detail about the inner workings, effects on the server, nor does it go into detail about every single available function. That is fine however, as the book is not targeted at administrators. The only load balancing the readers of this book need to deal with are in the laundry.

This book is very well suited for analysts – people who need to actually play with the data, and who need to learn about the tools available to them. As an example, I have a friend who is an internal auditor at a very large port. His days are spent pulling data from different sources into Access and running queries on them. He is not very technically inclined, and has only a rudimentary understanding of SQL. This would be a perfect guide for him.

As a guide, it is split logically in sections. What is BI and how does it help, installing, configuring, importing the data, and the various ways of manipulating the data. It walks the through each step clearing and succinctly, with screenshots to guide the way. (One small complaint though, I read the book on my black and white Kindle, and there was at least one instance referring to text highlighted in color that I couldn’t see.)

The meat of the book is where it describes how to design and use your cube. From building the hierarchy to writing custom members, it touches on each area. It shows how you can build TurboIntegrator scripts, and why you would, but unfortunately doesn’t go into detail. Ultimately this book shows a user how to go from raw data to a complex dashboard that meets the user’s needs.

To the seasoned veteran of Insight, this book won’t be so useful. To everyone else, this book is invaluable and will get them to the seasoned part. When working with Insight, keep this book open and you won’t go wrong.

IBM Cognos Insight was written by Sanjeev Datta, and published by Packt Publishing.