Upgrading to Cognos Analytics
Every process can be broken down to a methodology. After having help many customers upgrade to Cognos Analytics, I have established a repeatable process. As anecdotal as it may sound, I will include some specific facts that may help you in your journey. The steps include
- Planning the Upgrade
- Environment Setup
- Establishing a Baseline
- Content Migration
- Validation and Remediation
- Go Live
This session will cover the Environment setup phase.
Which version of the product should be installed? New with Cognos Analytics is the release cycle. You may have noticed that there is a cadence of releases several times a year which would allow for new features to be introduced and bug fixes. The impact of this rapid release is the support model which is best described as n-1 & LTS. The concept is that the latest release plus the previous release are actively supported. Additionally, there is a release that will be supported for a longer period, known as Long Term Support. In the case of 11.0 the LTS release is 11.0.13, details can be found here. What becomes more evident now is that a good regression test strategy is essential. The recommendation is to stay as current as possible so your environment is fully support and for production you should minimally be using the LTS release.
Considerations for the install
If you are familiar with installing, configuring and tuning older versions of Cognos you may be familiar with the general tasks but there are a few things that are different with Cognos Analytics.
One of the changes in the install process is the use of repository files. In previous versions of Cognos there were large install files, these are now separated into the install application and the files for either server or client. Details can be found here.
Cognos Analytics is leveraging DQM more than previous versions of Cognos and for that you need to include the JDBC drivers. Most notably is a new location for the database drivers, referring to the documentation the JDBC files now need to be placed in <install_location>/drivers. Additionally, if you have framework manager packages that have been deployed using CQM you might consider migrating to DQM, see my blog on migrating from CQM to DQM.
The location of images is also different and you can refer to the documentation for details. For the samples to work properly the images are now in <install_location>/webcontent/bi/samples/images. So during the migration planning make sure to account for all the images that have been used on the reports.
Another topic that me be encountered is customization. In the past this was referred to as branding but with Cognos Analytics the capabilities have been expanded. Samples are included as a reference to demonstrate the functionality of themes, extensions and views and are documented here. Themes are used to reflect your corporate branding of the Cognos Analytics interface. Extensions can be used to add or remove items from the interface. Views can be used to modify the sign-in and default home for users. Additionally, control on which features are exposed to users can also be managed using role customization and is documented here.
Administration is also changing. Although the legacy administration console still exists a new interface is being leveraged for the new features. To secure these features the role customization as previously mentioned can be used to control access.
With the new features of Cognos Analytics the total workload in your environment may change which may require different tuning. Some of the new feature may not be leveraged directly after go-live but over time as the new components like interactive reports, dashboards, exploration, etc are integrated into the users experience the tuning may also need to be revised. One of the settings that may require adjusting for Cognos Analytics is the JVM memory, details can be found here.
If Cognos is new or you have changes in utilization like number of reports or users accessing your environment it has long been recommended to perform a capacity plan. The essentials of a capacity plan is to determine if your environment will have the capability to support your expected load, details can be found here.
Once your environment is setup it is also recommended to perform load testing. Load testing simply executes a sample set of your content, simulating an average number of users and monitoring the environment. With proper guidance the tuning can be adjusted to optimize the environment and recommendations can be documented to allow for growth.
If you plan to include testing to validate the upgrade, you may need to identify which testing method or tool you want to include in the process. Cognos Analytics includes a product Lifecycle Manager (LCM) that can be used for this and works well for small projects. For large scale testing you may want to consider MotioCI. Some of the differences between LCM and MotioCI will be discussed in a future blog when we review the baseline and validation phases.
Using a test strategy and leveraging a testing tool can help with the rapid release cycle and keep your environment current.
More on what to expect during a migration in a future blog, stay tuned.