Cognos

Post: How to Test Cognos Data Source Connections

PROBLEM:

A Cognos user (let’s call him “Carlos”) tries to run a report but receives an error message indicating that the attempt to connect to the data source failed. Carlos alerts you, the administrator, about the issue and you are now tasked with finding the cause. Meanwhile, Carlos’ workflow is interrupted and he must switch gears to something less important until the data source issue gets resolved for him to be able to access reports again. What if you could avoid the frequency of this data source connectivity problem hitting Carlos and the rest of your Cognos users? Well, you can and we’ll show you how in this blog post.

We recently broadcast a “skills session” webinar for testing IBM Cognos administrative objects with MotioCI software. One of the featured objects we demonstrated how to test was data source connections. Data source connectivity can be automatically and continuously tested by MotioCI and comes preconfigured with the software, out-of-the box. Let’s take a look…


 

Data Source Connection Test Case Assertion:

Once you’ve installed MotioCI, there are a number of “assertions” that come with software, one of which tests the connectivity of your data sources and is called “Data Source is Valid.”

To access this test case, cruise on over to the “Admin” project in MotioCI.

1aMotioCI-AdminProject.png

 

Go to “Directory” and then “Cognos.” You will see all of the available data sources here.

2aMotioCI-Directory-Cognos.png

 

For this example, I will use the “Audit” data base. Clicking on it will reveal a test case associated with it and the “Data Source is Valid” assertion.

3aMotioCI-Audit-database.png

 

This test case validates signing on to the database so that Carlos and your other users can access their reports without interruptions. There are several reasons why this test might fail. The database could be down or passwords may have expired. Whatever the cause, this test case proactively checks connectivity to data sources and alerts administrators to failures, so they can quickly troubleshoot before too many end users are affected.

4aMotioCI-DataSourceValid.png

Continuously Testing Data Source Connections:

Now that you know where your data source connectivity test cases are located, here is how to set up some criteria for when you want it to run and get notified when it fails.

Under the Admin Project scroll down to the “Test Script” folder.

5aMotioCI-TestScript.png

 

In this example, add a new test script.

6MotioCI-NewTestScript.png

 

Go over to the “Test Script Setings” tab and select “Add” to specify criteria.

7aMotioCI-TestScriptSettings.png

 

Select the path under the “Audit” data source and click “OK.”

8aMotioCI-AuditDBPath.png

 

Click on “Add Schedule” to schedule the frequency for the test case to run.

9aMotioCI-ScheduleTestCaseRun.png

 

Set this to run however often you choose, such as every 15 minutes.

10aMotioCI-TestCaseFrequency.png

 

Set the notifications to email you every time this test case fails.

11aMotioCI-EmailNotifications.png

 

CONCLUSION:

Now you have a proactive approach in place to detect a common administrative issue before it creeps up on your user base. For more detail on using MotioCI to test data source connection failures and other administrative objects, watch this short webinar.

Scroll to Top
As the BI space evolves, organizations must take into account the bottom line of amassing analytics assets.
The more assets you have, the greater the cost to your business. There are the hard costs of keeping redundant assets, i.e., cloud or server capacity. Accumulating multiple versions of the same visualization not only takes up space, but BI vendors are moving to capacity pricing. Companies now pay more if you have more dashboards, apps, and reports. Earlier, we spoke about dependencies. Keeping redundant assets increases the number of dependencies and therefore the complexity. This comes with a price tag.
The implications of asset failures differ, and the business’s repercussions can be minimal or drastic.
Different industries have distinct regulatory requirements to meet. The impact may be minimal if a report for an end-of-year close has a mislabeled column that the sales or marketing department uses, On the other hand, if a healthcare or financial report does not meet the needs of a HIPPA or SOX compliance report, the company and its C-level suite may face severe penalties and reputational damage. Another example is a report that is shared externally. During an update of the report specs, the low-level security was incorrectly applied, which caused people to have access to personal information.
The complexity of assets influences their likelihood of encountering issues.
The last thing a business wants is for a report or app to fail at a crucial moment. If you know the report is complex and has a lot of dependencies, then the probability of failure caused by IT changes is high. That means a change request should be taken into account. Dependency graphs become important. If it is a straightforward sales report that tells notes by salesperson by account, any changes made do not have the same impact on the report, even if it fails. BI operations should treat these reports differently during change.
Not all reports and dashboards fail the same; some reports may lag, definitions might change, or data accuracy and relevance could wane. Understanding these variations aids in better risk anticipation.

Marketing uses several reports for its campaigns – standard analytic assets often delivered through marketing tools. Finance has very complex reports converted from Excel to BI tools while incorporating different consolidation rules. The marketing reports have a different failure mode than the financial reports. They, therefore, need to be managed differently.

It’s time for the company’s monthly business review. The marketing department proceeds to report on leads acquired per salesperson. Unfortunately, half the team has left the organization, and the data fails to load accurately. While this is an inconvenience for the marketing group, it isn’t detrimental to the business. However, a failure in financial reporting for a human resource consulting firm with 1000s contractors that contains critical and complex calculations about sickness, fees, hours, etc, has major implications and needs to be managed differently.

Acknowledging that assets transition through distinct phases allows for effective management decisions at each stage. As new visualizations are released, the information leads to broad use and adoption.
Think back to the start of the pandemic. COVID dashboards were quickly put together and released to the business, showing pertinent information: how the virus spreads, demographics affected the business and risks, etc. At the time, it was relevant and served its purpose. As we moved past the pandemic, COVID-specific information became obsolete, and reporting is integrated into regular HR reporting.
Reports and dashboards are crafted to deliver valuable insights for stakeholders. Over time, though, the worth of assets changes.
When a company opens its first store in a certain area, there are many elements it needs to understand – other stores in the area, traffic patterns, pricing of products, what products to sell, etc. Once the store is operational for some time, specifics are not as important, and it can adopt the standard reporting. The tailor-made analytic assets become irrelevant and no longer add value to the store manager.