IBM Cognos BI licensing simplified

This post explains the different licenses of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence. Hopefully it can be helpful in choosing the right combination of licenses. This is for version 10.2, but the concept is equally true for some previous versions.

Also check this post: IBM Cognos Express licensing simplified.

Also check this post: IBM Cognos TM1 licensing simplified.

The concept of licenses in IBM Cognos BI is built upon the principle of an “Authorized User”.  IBM Cognos BI is a suite, so it consists not of a single tool or application but out of different bricks within a common platform. Each “brick” is aiming at a different type of user. These different types of users are formalised with the concept of an “Authorized User”. An “Authorized User” corresponds to a license covering one or more bricks within the platform. IBM uses this concept to more or less formalize different types of users and their requirements into licenses. Someone who just wants to check some figures on his iPad on the go is clearly a different type of user then a number crunching financial controller.

The steps below indicate a possible plan to identify what you need:

  1. First, and this is the hardest part, identify how many users are going to do what. If you are not familiar with the capabilities of the different tools in the IBM Cognos platform, this is almost impossible. I give some pointers underneath, but if you need to be sure, contact us for assistance.
  2. Second. Translate these requirements into the most optimal set of user licenses. This should already be more straightforward.
  3. The last step is to define the most optimal mix, as you will read below, different options exist to end up with the same configuration.

Oh and just so you know, this is how I understand the licensing, nothing more.

Let’s start crunching. For IBM Cognos BI 10.2 you have 34 different licenses available. Before you start to choke, know that they can be divided and broken down into more digestible numbers. This is roughly what you have:

  1. Licenses that allow you to use one or more parts of the platform. 
    • Remote Recipient
      Active Report Recipient
      Enhanced Consumer
      Business Manager
      Business Analyst
      Business Author
      Advanced Business Author
      Professional Author
      Web Administrator

  2. The same set of licenses but in a “Limited Use” version. This sounds worse than it is. It just means that you are not going to use IBM Connections, the “social” component. As this is actually part of the Lotus platform and not of the Cognos platform, make your inquiries before deciding to use this.
    • Remote Recipient Limited Use
      Active Report Limited Use Recipient
      Recipient Limited Use
      Consumer Limited Use
      Enhanced Consumer Limited Use
      Business Manager Limited Use
      Business Analyst Limited Use
      Business Author Limited Use
      Advanced Business Author Limited Use
      Professional Author Limited Use
      Professional Limited Use

  3. Licenses that can be bought as an add-on to allow you to use something extra. This can be useful to bridge gaps between standard user licenses. They also come in a standard and limited use version.
    • Analysis Studio Add-on / Analysis Studio Add-on Limited Use
      Event Studio Add-on / Event Studio Add-on Limited Use
      Query Studio Add-on / Query Studio Add-on Limited Use
      Report Studio Express Author Mode Add-on / Report Studio Express Author Mode Add-on Limited Use
      IBM Cognos Collaboration (not sure if I can call this an add-on)

  4. A non-production license.

Clearly when you see the names of the licenses and you recall the Cognos components, there really isn’t much to go by. The matrix below attempts to capture most of the useful information into a link table between the license and the corresponding tool you can use. That is if you are not bored to death yet by now.

Putting it all together, IBM Cognos BI tool-license matrix.

IBM Cognos BI licensing simplified

* available as add-on license
** no executing reports or responding to prompts in CC
*** not for “Limited Use” licenses but available in option

Click here for a full-sized version of the Cognos BI  license matrix.

Still following? No? Great, welcome to the human being side of live.


Some Notes

  • IBM Cognos Express. Don’t forget that IBM also has a Cognos Express version. This is a combination of the best bits of Cognos BI and Cognos TM1, so the name “Express” really doesn’t do justice to the contents of the box. In many cases this actually might be a more interesting option both financially as in terms of capabilities.
  • Non-Production. This only means that if you take non-production licenses, that you may not use them for operational purposes, only developing and testing. This also is shown by the fact that you cannot purchase non-production user licenses. And yes, unfortunately this also means you need licenses for non-production environments.
  • Security. IBM Cognos is open in terms of security. If you install it, you could configure as many users as you want in whatever configuration you want, not limited by the legal constraints of the licenses you purchased. It is your responsibility to configure the security of all the different components in such a way that it reflects the legal license reality. This is not easy, as the security configuration options do not or barely relate to the naming or capability conventions of the licenses.
  • More than you think. To run IBM Cognos BI you need, besides hardware obviously, an application server and a web server. Buying BI means you can make use of some other IBM products as well, just to name a few;  IBM DB2 Workgroup Server Edition, IBM Tivoli Directory Integrator and IBM WebSphere Application Server. So although you do need additional software it actually comes included. Needless to say that you can use these products only for your Cognos BI environment. 
  • PVU. Ok, I kept this for the end and I’m not going to elaborate about it in this post. For IBM Cognos BI, you can also go for PVU licensing. PVU stands for “processor value unit” and is IBMish for a processor core. Each type of processor has a number of cores and is assigned a PVU value by IBM and a PVU has a value. So if you have a 2 quad-core processors in your Cognos machine, IBM counts for that type of CPU 100 PVU’s per core and one PVU costs $1 (fictuous price here guys), then your PVU license fee for that machine would be $800 (2*4*100*1). A scheme also exists for virtualized environments; called virtualization capacity or sub-capacity licensing in contrast to full capacity licensing.


So in conclusion, the hardest part is to identify what you need. Once you know that, get somebody in who knows the tools and can translate requirements into licenses.

Cognos Service

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