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TESTING & IMPROVING PERFORMANCE IN IBM COGNOS BI

April 03, 2014

Motio, System Admin & Security

Plus Automated Cognos Testing System, MotioCI

Demands on business intelligence systems are growing, and with increased usage, we often see a corresponding rise in performance issues.

During this webinar, we discuss the various layers that can contribute to performance issues, from the presentation layer to the database and host server architecture. We review some of the OS-level and Cognos-specific tools that are available to help gather relevant information to pinpoint the causes of performance issues. With a case study, we also show you how to use an integrated performance testing method, along with how tuning changes can be used to reach the target level of performance.

One of the tools highlighted is the automated Cognos testing system, MotioCI. MotioCI is an iterative testing tool that enables repeatable, automated testing in order to evaluate changes in report execution performance as tuning changes are made.

TECHNOLOGIES COVERED

IBM Cognos BI 10; MotioCI

RECOMMENDED AUDIENCE

IBM Cognos BI Developers; Business Intelligence Managers; IT, Cognos and BI Support Staff

PRESENTERS

Steven Reed-Pittman
Practice Director – Systems Integration and Optimization
Senturus, Inc.

Steve leads the installation and upgrade team at Senturus. He has installed, and configured, and optimized hundreds of Cognos instances from Cognos Series 7 through Cognos 10 on the Windows, UNIX and Linux environments.

Dr. John Boyer
Proven Practice Lead
Motio, Inc.

John has nearly 20 years experience in business intelligence, database architecture, and software development. He is an IBM Information Champion, has led workshops and been invited to speak at numerous national events including IBM Information On Demand, Cognos Forum, Cognos User Groups, and the Composite Software annual conference.

PRESENTATION OUTLINE

Sources of Trouble: Where is My Problem Coming From?

  • Where to Begin
    • Performance troubleshooting requires detective work.
      • Gather data from systems and people.
      • What changed, and when?
      • Consider all of the possible layers.
      • Options for addressing performance issues vary across different Cognos versions and configurations.
  • Cognos-Specific Problem Areas
    • Performance issues can originate from multiple layers:
      • Configuration Layer
        • Cognos software configuration and tuning (install/configinconsistencies, esp. in distributed environments).
      • Database Layer
        • Data warehouse schema design.
      • Metadata Layer
        • Framework Manager model.
      • Presentation Layer
        • Report Studio, Workspace Advanced, etc.
  • Other Problem Areas
    • Performance issues can also originate outside of Cognos:
      • Network (network speed, latency).
      • Database server (concurrent query execution, contention with other databases hosted on the same db server or cluster).
      • Host server architecture (CPU, RAM, disk, virtual vs. physical infrastructure).

Approaches to Troubleshooting

  • Fire Prevention vs. Fire Fighting
    • Is your organization proactive or reactive with regard to the performance of your Cognos systems?
    • When trouble strikes, quick answers can be hard to find. Preventing the fire is better than fighting it!
    • Tools can make this easier by providing:
      • Baseline performance data.
      • Replicable test cases.
  • Some Tool Options
    • MotioCI as an iterative testing tool for determining changes in report execution performance (SLA testing).
    • LoadRunner scripting.
    • Commercial and open-source application performance monitoring tools (e.g., SolarWinds, Opsview).
    • Built-in OS tools (e.g., Resource Monitor, perfmon).
    • Cognos Administration dashboards.
  • Why Use Tools?
    • The risk of doing this without tools or methodology:
      • Lack of repeatability makes it difficult or impossible to know whether changes have made a difference.
      • Tools enable repeatable testing for reliable performance comparisons.

Keys to Improving Performance: Three-Phase Methodology for Performance Testing and Tuning

  • The Key to Improving Performance
    • A three-phase approach to successfully beat performance issues in IBM Cognos.
    • Solving performance issues is like playing “Whack-a-Mole”: every time you thought you killed the beast, it will pop up again!
  • A Three-Phase Approach to Solving Performance Issues
    • Just a commodity approach?
      • Build
      • Measure
      • Learn
  • A Three-Phase Approach to Solving Performance Issues
    • A tailor-made approach for IBM Cognos.
      • Build
        • Identify all elements that can impact performance.
        • Set up monitoring for capturing system performance metrics.
        • Analyze user and system behavior.
        • Set up test cases using MotioCI.
      • Measure
        • Run test cases and metrics to capture initial baseline.
        • Review test results and captured metrics.
        • Run load test.
        • Analyze system behavior.
      • Learn
        • Implement tuning changes based on the results.
        • Return to “Run load test” step (Measure, step three).
        • Repeat steps until the target level of performance is achieved.
  • What does your multi-disciplinary team look like?
    • Cognos Knowledge
      • Cognos Admin
      • Cognos Architect
      • Cognos Modeler
    • Infrastructure
      • DBA
      • Network/firewall Specialist
      • Hardware Specialist
    • General Roles

      • Project Management
      • Senturus BI Specialist
        • Knowledge of methodology.
        • Knowledge of Cognos.
        • Knowledge of MotioCI.
        • Experience at different environments, organizations and infrastructure set ups.

Building Your Test Case: Tools, Techniques and Questions to Consider

  • How to Build Your Test Case
    • Four essential steps to being well prepared.
      • Step one: identify all elements that can impact performance.
      • Step two: set up monitoring tools for capturing system performance metrics.
      • Step three: analyze user and system behavior.
        • Who is using IBM Cognos?
        • When are they using it?
        • How long, what frequency?
        • What do they execute?
        • How often?
        • What is used the most?
        • What is used during peak time?
        • What is taking the most time?

Sample Testing: Running a Stress Test with MotioCI

  • Set Up Test Cases using MotioCI
    • MotioCI server creates multiple simulated Cognos users.
    • Each simulated user asks Cognos to run reports.
    • Cognos processes report request, and produces finished reports.
    • MotioCI evaluates each finished report for accuracy and notes the time required to generate it.
  • Cognos Stress Test with MotioCI
    • Define a Stress Test
    • Configure Stress Test
    • Customizing a Stress Test
      • Ramped User Logins and Ramped Report Executions
      • Ramped User Logins
      • Ramped Report Executions
      • Simulated User Interactivity
    • Results Summary
    • Interactive and Non-Interactive Executions by Report
    • Samples Reports
  • How to Build Your Test Case
    • Four essential steps to being well prepared.
      • Step four: set up test cases using MotioCI.
  • How to Measure Your Test Case and Analyze the Results
    • Executing repeatable test cases with comparable results:
      • Run test cases and metrics to capture initial baseline.
      • Review test results and captured metrics.
      • Run load test.
      • Analyze system behavior.

Adjustments and Aftercare: Analyzing Results and Making Changes

      • How to Measure Your Test Case and Analyze the Results
        • Examining the test case results.
      • How to Improve and Tweak the Settings
        • Solve the bottleneck and retest.
          • Reviewing metrics from Cognos Administration.
          • Executing repeatable test cases and viewing final results.

      • What is So Revolutionary About This?
        • The right combination of tools and expertise promotes rapid results.
          • Key problem: Performance issues are hard to tackle without reliable metrics and deep knowledge of the systems in question.
          • Without a simple and repeatable approach, troubleshooting and tuning is difficult to perform effectively.
            • Unstructured troubleshooting is hard to manage, and can be both expensive and slow to produce results.
            • Dependencies across multiple layers aren’t always obvious.
            • Custom-made test cases often require lots of programming/scripting.
          • MotioCI helps the project team focus on the core, repeatable test cases: test, analyze and measure improvement.
          • Deep Cognos system expertise from Senturus provides multi-layer examination of the affected systems, interpretation of test results, recommendation of tuning changes, and implementation assistance when needed.
  • Aftercare
    • Proactive Monitoring of your Cognos BI Environment
      • When the problems are solved, organizations need to stay healthy!
      • By constantly monitoring performance, BICC’s stay in control and on topof the quality of their BI environment, regarding:
        • Performance.
        • Data quality.
        • IBM best practices and corporate standards.