As part of their Cognos licensing evolution, IBM has created a new license entitlement called Information Distribution. Information Distribution users inherit the capabilities of the former Remote Recipient users, but also gain some additional capabilities that add significant benefits for Cognos customers. In this blog we will explore some of these benefits as well as briefly describe the best method for implementing this new role.
One of the major challenges Cognos managers face is how to get the greatest benefit from their licensing and development investment. Maintaining license compliance, while providing the features that users need, requires constant monitoring of usage and coordination with the business. The old entitlements often required managers to purchase higher level licenses or add-ons to provide the access needed. Consumers could run pre-built reports but not Active Reports; this required an upgrade to an Enhanced Consumer license. Many users just need to run simple reports. Remote Recipient licenses were cheaper and could receive scheduled report output and burst reports, but couldn’t access Cognos directly to run these reports for themselves when they needed them nor could they interact with an Active Report. Alternatively, a Recipient license could be used, although that entitlement did not include rights to receive or view Active Reports. In addition, keeping track of which Consumer, Recipient and Remote Recipient users actually made use of the access granted them, and thus being able to maintain only the number of licenses needed, is difficult at best albeit necessary to be in compliance with license entitlements. Also, some companies may have security restrictions preventing pre-run reports from being sent to users requiring Recipient or Consumer licenses when Remote Recipients could otherwise be used.
For all of these reasons and more, the new Information Distribution license is ideal. Information Distribution users can receive pre-run reports through email, including Active Reports and burst reports; they can also access Cognos directly to view the saved content for themselves. Now you have extended delivery options. Further, you can setup an area in Cognos where light-duty users can go to download pre-run reports and Active Reports and you can send links to users instead of the actual report. Access to the reports using the links would utilize Cognos security measures already in place.
Another key feature of the Information Distribution user licenses is that they are PVU only. This means that they are not purchased on a user by user basis (i.e. named user), but are applied to a specific Cognos server based on the number of processor cores in the server. For those who are new to the concept of PVUs, a Processor Value Unit (PVU) is a unit of measure by which the Program can be licensed. The number of PVU entitlements required is based on the processor technology (defined within the PVU Table by Processor Vendor, Brand, Type and Model Number (click here to go to the IBM PVU calculator page). This is a benefit to the customer because they no longer need to keep track of individual users when those users simply consume pre-run content. The PVU-based licensing will require customers to take a second look at their environment infrastructure. If, for example, your environment has two redundant dispatchers with 12 CPU cores each you would need to purchase enough Information Distribution licenses for 24 cores. This is because both servers will by default be handling requests from all users. This may not appear to be cost effective for your organization. Fortunately, this is actually an easy challenge to solve.
Cognos has features built in that will allow you to add a new light-duty server to the environment and dedicate that server to Information Distribution user activity. Continuing our example above, you might choose to add a new dispatcher server with 2 cores. The server can be configured with a fewer number of cores because delivering saved content is much less processing intensive than actually running the reports. As long as the Information Distribution users’ activity is restricted to the new server, you will need to maintain only a two-core license (this equates to approximately 200 PVUs by IBM guidelines). This will also have the additional benefit of transferring some of the activity load off of the primary server. You could even designate the new server for all batch processing or other similar tasks taking even more of the processing load off of the primary server(s). If you are designing an entire environment from scratch, or are designing an upgrade to your existing environment, you may be able to decrease the hardware requirements of your primary servers and thus decrease the cost of those servers.
The ability to provide direct, secure access to a company’s report content without having to purchase more advanced licenses is a clear advantage of the new Information Distribution license. As an added benefit, administrators will not need to spend time keeping track of these new users’ usage to maintain compliance because the licenses are PVU based and the users will have a server dedicated to their needs. Explaining the details of implementing this strategy of dedicating a server to Information Distribution users is outside of the scope of this blog.
As an IBM Premier Business Partner for Business Analytics, FYI Solutions has expertise in implementing these solutions and is available to help you with your implementation. Please contact us for more information.