IBM Cognos OLAP Modeling with Cognos Transformer: Best Practices


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Using online analytical processing (OLAP) with IBM Cognos Transformer leads to higher user adoption rates and greater value from Business Intelligence solutions. Senturus experts share facts and best practices for OLAP modeling using Cognos 8 Transformer, including:

• The value of online analytical processing (OLAP)
• Reference business intelligence architecture
• How to synchronize Transformer and the data source
• Customizing the Transformer model using sub-dimensions and relative time categories
• Resolving conflicts when using multiple data sources
• Setting measure properties and comparing roll-up options plus applying basic cube security
• OLAP enhancements in Cognos 10

This slide deck is part of a recorded Senturus webinar, "IBM Cognos OLAP Modeling with Cognos Transformer.” To view the free recording of this entire presentation and download the slide deck, visit<http: />. You will find this and many other webinars and resources about IBM Cognos Business Intelligence and related topics.

Senturus designs and builds Business Intelligence systems to enable executives to better run their businesses. Since 2001, Senturus has been an IBM Cognos Premier Business Partner and delivered over 1400 projects to 650+ clients in a breadth of industries and applications.

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  • The single biggest differentiator that Cognos has earned in the industry is its emphasis on browser-based self-service. Cognos Connection is the user portal for all content, for business users as well as report developers. Depending on your role, you will leverage the various studios. Report writers will spend most of their time in Report Studio, while business users will use Query Studio for day-to-day business questions. Finance and FP&amp;A staff will typically use Analysis Studio, while Metric Studio and Event Studio focus on KPIs and threshold alerting.OLAP Cubes – This is an optional layer in some environments, but considered critical for users who need interactive analysis, exploring “what if” scenarios based on multiple dimensions, roll-ups, hierarchies.Cognos has the broadest and deepest support for cube technologies, with strong innovation in Multi-dimensional OLAP, also known as MOLAP. It is important to make the distinction between MOLAP, which supports multi-dimensionality in the cube build, vs. ROLAP (Relational OLAP), which relies on the underlying database to provide dimensionality. MOLAP is much more flexible, and requires far less hard coding of business logic into the source database. IBM Cognos’ recent acquisition of TM1 adds 64-bit in-memory cubes, for large, high performance or complex BI applications. In addition, Cognos has the best industry support for other people’s cubes, notably Hyperion (now Oracle) Essbase and Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services.The Metadata Layer– This critical component is notably missing in some vendor offerings. As with cube technologies, some vendors rely on the underlying source database to provide business metadata, dimensional attributes and hierarchies. Cognos has a true business metadata layer, and does not depend on the underlying source database. The huge benefit is that Framework Manager allows you to abstract and isolate the data model. This means that reports can be developed against the FM model, even while changes are being made to the source data base. BI projects can be very dynamic, with data sources and requirements changing. The FM model allows you to keep working against a known, desired data model…even while other components are being upgraded and modified.The Data Warehouse or Data Mart. These words mean different things to different people. In some environments, a reporting database starts off as just a copy of the source database, so that reporting does not go against the operational system. This is not a Data Warehouse, by any stretch. But it’s a start. A Data Mart is the next step up, where data is extracted from the operational system, and transformed into a form that is optimized for business reporting. This means a few things: Complex data structures (which make sense for transactional systems) are flattened out, de-normalized, preferably into a star schema…this is a central Fact Table with several Dimension Tables joined to it; Business Intelligence is added to the raw data…for example, obscure accounting codes are mapped into business-friendly terms; organizational structures can be added to encompass regions, territories, product lines and business units. Business Intelligence enriches the data, so that reporting and analysis provide more value to users.To quickly mention the ETL layer (Extract / Transform / Load)…that is where this work is carried out. Depending on your source data, you might need more or less ETL…even none if your source data is already available in a usable form.A Data Mart focuses on a single subject area, but…and this is key, the dimensions are designed so that they can be leveraged with other subject areas. For example, you create a Date dimension which handles all the various ways business users use dates: YTD, MTD, day-of-week, seasons, etc. When you build the second Data Mart, to address a new subject area, you leverage the exact same Date dimension. We call this a conformed dimension, because it works consistently across the subject areas. Finally, a Data Warehouse is simply all of your Data Marts, working together with common and conformed dimensions. A big take-home point is that you don’t build a Data Warehouse all at once. You start with a key subject area with high business value, and build a Data Mart which immediately supports business reporting and analysis. But when we design the Data Mart, we are always thinking about the future. So we build in the right structures so that they can be re-used consistently across all subject areas, all Data Marts.
  • IBM Cognos OLAP Modeling with Cognos Transformer: Best Practices

    1. 1. IBM Cognos 8OLAP Modeling with Transformer November 9, 2010 Albert Valdez, III Director of Education Services, Senturus, Inc. Helping Companies Learn From the Past, Manage the Present and Shape the Future
    2. 2. This slide deck is part of a recorded webinar. To view the FREE recording of this entire presentation and download the slide deck, go to will find this—and many other recorded webinars-- under the ―IBM Cognos Business Intelligence”
    3. 3. Today’s Agenda• Welcome and Introduction• Cognos 8 Transformer OLAP Modeling Demonstrations – Best practices for using Cognos 8 Transformer to create OLAP (multidimensional) models and generate PowerCubes – How to synchronize data sources with the model when source data changes – Customize the model using Sub-Dimensions and Special Categories – Create custom relative time categories – Identify and resolve conflicts between data sources and discuss a unique move – Set measure properties and compare rollup options, including time-state rollups – Apply basic security and see how Cube Groups can facilitate simple data security – Upcoming live hands-on training sessions• OLAP Enhancements in Cognos 10• Overview of Cognos Training Options• Q&A and Wrap-up
    4. 4. Today’s Format• Demonstration will begin shortly• Please submit questions via the GoToWebinar Question pane in the GoToWebinar control panel• We will address questions LIVE at the conclusion of the presentation, so if you do not get an immediate response, please HOLD ON!• We will try to answer EVERY question via email if we do not get a chance to respond while you are attending the Webinar
    5. 5. Welcome and Introduction• Who am I? – Albert Valdez, Director of Education Services at Senturus – 10 years as a Technical Trainer, focused on Business Intelligence and Performance Management – 5 years as a Senior Education Specialist at Cognos, Inc. – Lifetime CTT+ Certification from CompTIA – IBM Cognos Certified – Last 5+ Years as a Senior Consultant, Solutions Architect, Education Director• Who is Senturus? – Currently IBM Premier Solutions Partner – Cognos Platinum Partner 2002-2008 – Full Service Solutions provider: • Data Warehouse • Program Management • Performance Management • Platform-Independent
    6. 6. The Value of OLAP• Multidimensional analysis helps organizations extract maximum value from their corporate data• It transforms volumes of data into information about the business, allowing users to analyze information in a business context —comparisons of things such as: – product or channel performance, in light of other important factors like regions, customers, and time – With a multidimensional view, users can quickly gain insight into business performance and trends
    7. 7. The Value of OLAP• Multidimensional analysis helps companies improve their performance by: – Providing visibility into large volumes of corporate data – Presenting complex data in a business way so it is easy to understand – Helping people stay on top of changing business conditions—market shifts, mergers and acquisitions—and providing trending analysis – Reducing the burden on IT by providing self-service access to corporate information – Delivering a scalable, efficient technology that is quickly refreshed with current data
    8. 8. The Value of OLAP• The delivery of information within a dimensional framework that users understand means they can conduct their own analysis quickly and easily• Organizations can also extend the analysis reach and share findings company-wide with effective reporting that helps them know sooner, understand faster, and react more quickly than the competition• PowerCubes provide users with a data source that is optimized for ad-hoc analysis (slice and dice), providing answers quickly (< 1 second, ideally), even when analyzing hundreds of millions of rows of transactional details
    9. 9. Reference BI Architecture Cognos ConnectionPresentation Layer Report Analysis Query Metric Event Studio Studio Studio Studio Studio Cognos Cognos MSOLAP Cubes (optional) Hyperion PowerPlay TM1 SSAS EssbaseMetadata Layer Cognos Framework ManagerData Warehouse Microsoft SQL Server Oracle MySQL IBM DB2or Data MartETL Layer (optional) Cognos Data Manager (or 3rd party tools)Source Data ERP External Excel In-House Systems Sources Spreadsheets Systems
    10. 10. Best practices for using Cognos 8 Transformer to create OLAP (multidimensional) models and generate PowerCubes• Optimize your data sources – Use Cognos 8 Packages, or – Create custom reports with Query or Report Studio to define necessary filters and calculations – Use flat files to minimize cube build times • Use multiple data source to separate transactional from dimensional data• Customize your dimensional model – Leverage Transformer’s robust modeling capabilities – Use Alternate Drill-Paths, Sub-Dimensions, Manual Levels, and Special Categories to more closely address user requirements• Create custom PowerCubes – A single Transformer Model can support many diverse user groups using Dimension Views, Custom Power Cubes, and Cube Groups
    11. 11. Cognos 8 OLAP Modeling with Transformer DemonstrationDemo 1 – Cognos 8 OLAP Modeling Best Practices and how tosynchronize the Transformer Model when data sources change.Purpose: View a demonstration of how OLAP modelers can make simplemodifications to the Transformer model to adapt to structural changes in sourcedata. To view a free recoding of this demo, go to You will find this recording under the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence section. It is entitled as Best Practices in OLAP Modeling with Cognos Transformer.
    12. 12. Cognos 8 OLAP Modeling with Transformer DemonstrationDemo 2 – Customize the Transformer model using a Sub-Dimension, and custom relative time categories.Purpose: Some of Transformer’s greatest strengths are in its support ofdimensional customization, especially in the Time Dimension. To view a free recoding of this demo, go to You will find this recording under the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence section. It is entitled as Best Practices in OLAP Modeling with Cognos Transformer.
    13. 13. Cognos 8 OLAP Modeling with Transformer DemonstrationDemo 3 – Resolve conflicts when using multiple data sources in aTransformer model.Purpose: It is a best practice to leverage multiple data sources in Transformermodels. When doing so, we need to provide the model sufficient information toresolve potential conflicts between our source data and our model. Understanduniqueness and the impact of unique moves. To view a free recoding of this demo, go to You will find this recording under the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence section. It is entitled as Best Practices in OLAP Modeling with Cognos Transformer.
    14. 14. Cognos 8 OLAP Modeling with Transformer DemonstrationDemo 4 – Set measure properties and compare rollup options.Apply basic cube security and see how to use Cube Groups andcompare to custom user class views.Purpose: Review basic measure rollup settings, time-state rollups, and basiccube security as well as Cube Groups. To view a free recoding of this demo, go to You will find this recording under the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence section. It is entitled as Best Practices in OLAP Modeling with Cognos Transformer.
    15. 15. Cognos Training Options• IBM Public Classroom Training• Training from a Certified Partner, On-site or Public• Custom On-site Training• Small group Mentoring/Knowledge Transfer• Remote/On-line Training• Computer Based Training• Upcoming Senturus Public Training Events…
    16. 16. OLAP Enhancements in Cognos 10• Tighter integration with additional OLAP Sources, such as TM1, allowing for collaborative planning and forecasting• Broader adoption of 64-bit in-memory OLAP, such TM1 and IBM Real-Time Monitoring• Much improved query performance against OLAP sources: – 80% improvement on TM1 – 20% improvement on PowerCubes – 55% improvement on SAP BW – 70% improvement on Oracle Essbase
    17. 17. Cognos Training Options• Upcoming Senturus Public Training Events, Hosted by Yours Truly: – Tuesday-Wednesday, December 7-8 on-line: • OLAP Modeling with Cognos 8 Transformer – Friday, January 7, 2011, on-line: • Dimensional Authoring with Cognos 8 Report Studio – TBD, January, 2011, on-line: • Advanced Report Authoring with Cognos 8 Report Studio – Registration information will be sent along with the Webinar Follow-up, or visit
    18. 18. About Senturus Training• What does Senturus Training offer?• Why not just go to the IBM/Cognos public classes? – On-site is more cost-effective when there are more than 4 people to train – Courses are delivered at your location, on your schedule – Attendance is limited to your group, minimizing distractions, and allowing our instructors to focus on your group’s pertinent concerns – Course content and format can be structured specifically to your audience• As an IBM Partner, we can offer discounts on IBM Public training starting at 10%• We are your Training Partner!
    19. 19. What does Senturus Training offer:• Standard On-site Classroom delivery – Based on Great Outdoors sample data – Can be delivered anywhere, anytime – Compressed format (fewer days) – $2,950 per day list price (up to 12 students) *Price goes up Jan. 1*• Customized On-site Classroom delivery – Based on client’s data – Requires longer lead times so we can prepare materials – Higher impact, more relevant, closes learning gap much faster – $2,950 per day of delivery and course prep *Price goes up Jan. 1*• Small Group Mentoring – We work on your data, in your environment – Our experts facilitate the learning process while resolving actual issues and working toward a concrete deliverable – Small group size allows for personalized knowledge transfer at the appropriate pace – Rates start at $225 per hour
    20. 20. Want more???• Senturus is offering a unique opportunity to attend complete, live, hands-on training sessions remotely• Formal classroom setting with virtual workstations for each student• Remote attendance available – attend from anywhere, all you need is an Internet-connected PC (dual displays and PC headset recommended)• Valuable hard-copy course handouts with step by step instructions• $595 per day, per student
    21. 21. This slide deck is part of a recorded webinar. To view the FREE recording of this entire presentation and download the slide deck, go to will find this—and many other recorded webinars-- under the ―IBM Cognos Business Intelligence”
    22. 22. Contact Senturus Senturus, Inc 888-601-6010