Upgrading, and the management of business intelligence applications, is made easy with use of IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager. This section describes the features of IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager and how they can be used to manage application life-cycle tasks.
Using IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager to test the IBM CognosenvironmentIBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager is a utility that performs automated testing of IBM Cognos BI report content in multiple environments. This testing is achieved by programatically validating, executing, and then comparing report output to ensure that there are no deltas between versions when upgrading.
To successfully complete the report executions and comparisons, the folder structures in both environments must be identical.
Creating an IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager project
To do this:
IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager welcome panel
Creating a new IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager project
Maximum number of connections that IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager will make to the individual environments The more connections specified, the more simultaneous requests will be made to each of the environments. In theory,more connections will result in a shorter time to complete the report executions, but there are many influencing factors.
Defining the servers to use for the project
Supply the required security credentials and ensure that they test successfully
Generate report content to be validated
For IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager to validate, execute, and perform report comparisons between the target and source environments, the list of content to include in the project must be specified.
To generate report content to be validated:
Selecting content to include in the validation project
After the content is loaded, it displays in the IBM Cognos Life cycle Manager interface and is ready for the validation and execution steps
The IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager project is now ready for comparative testing
Validating the target environment
Although there are both source and target environments, only the target environment needs to be validated. We assume that the collection of reports in the source environment is functional, so the reports should be validated in the IBM Cognos BI target environment to ensure consistency.
Automatically generating prompt values
One of the advantages of IBM Cognos BI reports is the ability to author a single report to satisfy different requests. This is achieved by including prompts in the reports that can change the results returned based on the selected prompt values, as usage of report prompts is common. It is more than likely that there will be required prompts contained within the reporting environments, which means that the prompt values must be supplied before IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager can programatically execute the reports.
To generate a prompt value automatically:
Automatically generate prompt values for missing report prompts
The process of examining all of the selected content begins and verifies whether there are prompt values that need to be satisfied.If there are missing prompt values, IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager attempts to generate a prompt value automatically
if there are prompt values that are still required after automatically generating them, complete these steps:
Manual prompt generation for a report
Manually enter a prompt value
Continue the process until all missing prompt values are defined, the objects are marked as out of scope for the project, or both. Then, follow these steps:
Completing the validation process
Executing target and source content
After the validation process has completed successfully, you need to execute reports in both the source and target systems. IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager does not retrieve output from IBM Cognos Content Store. Instead, it generates all content, from both systems, based on the format and language options and the supplied prompt values, which ensures that the report output that is created for comparison contains the same parameters.
Initially, execute only report content that is required immediately to keep the amount of time to generate the output to a minimum. Typically, a project contains all of the necessary content, but the content is in different stages of validation. Based on priority, folders and packages are validated, executed, and compared incrementally.
Because report executions are submitted through the SDK and executed on the system (target, source, or both), it is advisable that you execute the reports incrementally in smaller batches, versus submitting all content for execution.
To execute target and source content:
Figure shows the Source Execute window within IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager.
Performing the Source and Target Execute tasks (source shown)
Compare the output to ensure consistency
If the report comparison indicates deltas, you need to complete further analysis to determine the nature of the difference and whether the difference is expected or acceptable.
There are two options for comparison. The first option uses Adobe Flash as part of a visual comparison tool, and the other option does a PDF text comparison looking changes to the contents. Given that IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager saves all data locally, you do not need to be connected to the source and target systems to complete the compare task.
Before comparing output versions, you need to validate and execute a report in both the source and target systems.
To compare report output versions:
Figure shows an example of the Output Compare window.
Output Compare showing reports that have been compared with no differences
The compare task executes, and the status of each report is updated to show the result of the compare task.
IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager provides content validators with the ability to annotate any content object. Because validation projects can span multiple days or weeks, and there might be multiple people participating, the ability to comment on the status or progress is critical. In addition to the commentary, content validators can also approve or reject the comparisons based on the findings. For example, if one report in a package produced a delta, and the difference is approved, the approved status causes the status on the package to change to Completed.
Analyzing the project status
A summary of project status can be viewed at any time throughout the validation process by opening IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager’s Task Summary view. As each step in the project completes, the status of each task is updated and rolled up into the summary view. The Task Summary view in IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager has a print option and is also exportable to an Adobe Flash file, which can then be opened in most web browsers. The page is separated into the following sections:
Figure shows the IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager Task Summary window.
IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager: Task Summary (status summary for a project)
Clicking around the Task Summary interface provides a filtered view of the statuses of project tasks for each phase of an IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager project. Each section shows the total number of objects that are in or have passed through each status within each project phase. Every IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager project moves through five phases and various states within each phase:
For quick visual reference, the bottom panel of the IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager Task Summary window also provides a status icon displaying the status for each phase of the project:
Task status icons in IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager
Another element of the Task Summary window within IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager is the Notes column. IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager allows a report administrator to provide commentary related to specific reports. When a note exists for a report within a project, an icon displays in the row for that report under the Notes column.
Hovering the mouse pointer over the note icon for a report provides a pop-up containing text-based commentary associated with the report. Figure shows an example of commentary added to an IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager entry using the Note column.
Notes associated with a rejected report in IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager
Now that the phases of the IBM Cognos Lifecycle Manager utility are understood, there is a way to streamline the process.
To perform a one-click comparison:
Performing this type of comparison executes the following operations:
These steps are performed without any user interaction. After the comparison finishes, the project is ready for analysis of any reported deltas.
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