IBM Cognos Express licensing simplified

In essence it is simple. You have “User” licenses that define what a user can do, and you have “Manager Connector” licenses, more like a server license for a certain component. If you want a “User” license, you also need the corresponding “Manager Connector” license.

By the way, this is about IBM Cognos Express 10.1.

Also check this post: IBM Cognos BI licensing simplified.

Also check this post: IBM Cognos TM1 licensing simplified.

Three step licensing scope definition

  1. First, and this is the hardest part, identify how many users are going to do what. If you are not familiar with the other IBM Cognos products, 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. And finally, and this is the easiest part, translate the “User” licenses into the “Manager Connector” licenses.

Below I will discuss each license briefly in normal people terms. At the bottom you find a matrix cross referencing the licenses with tools for an exact overview. Oh and just so you know, this is how I understand the licensing, nothing more.

The different “User” licenses

IBM Cognos Express Advisor User. When you want to have a flexible web-interface to make analyses and nice looking dashboards with limited write-back work. For those in the know with BI or TM1, this is in fact TM1 Executive Viewer and Cognos Insight, not PowerPlay or Analysis Studio. I actually like this bit very much. Don’t use this if you want to make real reports with typical report functionalities (pdf, pixel perfect, bursting, ..).

IBM Cognos Express Reporter User. When you are into traditional reports with many customization options, this is the thing for you. You can create multi-page, filtered and personalized reports for large scale distribution. Also, if you want to use Cognos Mobile, you need this user. This corresponds to the Cognos BI Report Studio, Query Studio and Business Insight Advanced bits.

IBM Cognos Express Planner User. When you need to plan in a relatively simple way. A sales forecast or budget would be a typical application. Web-base, easy to use, approval hierarchy and scalable to many users.

IBM Cognos Express Xcelerator User. This is basically Excel with a central powerful shared write-back OLAP engine. Typically for Excel minded environments like finance. Extreme flexibility and possibilities but not for the faint hearted. So yes for finance, no for sales.

IBM Cognos Express Consumer User. A “Consumer User” … consumes. This user does not correspond to a specific “Manager Connector” and can only read, not write, not run, not create. A “Consumer User” is only useful for output from an Advisor, Xcelerator or Reporter User, not a Planner. For instance an iPad addicted Manager (so Cognos Mobile => from a “Report User”) who wants to consult reports on the go, will  require a “Consumer User” license.

IBM Cognos Express Complete User. Simple, the combination of all of the above.

IBM Cognos Express Administrator. This is the only user who can create most of the meta objects. So I am not talking about creating a report, but about creating the model definition that a “Report User” can use to create a report. It is also the only user that can administer the system. So yes, you always need at least one “Administrator”.

The different “Manager Connector” licenses

The “Manager Connector” licenses correspond to the “User” licenses. As soon as you have a certain “User” license, you need the corresponding “Manager Connector” license.

  • IBM Cognos Express Manager Connector for Advisor
  • IBM Cognos Express Manager Connector for Reporter
  • IBM Cognos Express Manager Connector for Planner
  • IBM Cognos Express Manager Connector for Xcelerator
  • IBM Cognos Express Manager Complete Connector => All 4 “Manager Connectors”

You also have a license for non-production applications for each “Manager Connector”.

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

Knowing what the above all means is difficult to explain. My background is extensive experience with the legacy Cognos suites compiled into Cognos Express. So the easiest way for me to explain what you exactly can do with each license is to put them against the individual tools that make up Cognos Express. The real reason might be that it is Friday evening and this is taking much longer than I expected 2 hours ago.

The first row indicates the “User” license. The second row indicates the “Manager Connector” license. In the first column you see the actual tool you are getting. Green means yes you can, gray means no you don’t (click for enlarged version in new tab).

IBM Cognos Express tool-license matrix

* no write back or creating objects
** no publishing of workspaces

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

Some Notes

  • ICAS. As you can see you get the “IBM Cognos Analytic Server” (or ICAS) regardless of the license you purchase. This is IBM talk for TM1. But this is in fact a real bargain. You get probably the best, most powerful and most scalable OLAP database system available on the market today for a fraction of the cost of a TM1 setup or a competitor system. This also means that you don’t need a separate database system or server, just scale your hardware properly. This again is a great cost advantage. 
  • 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.
  • Authorized Users. IBM Cognos Express works with “Authorized Users”. This basically means that you have to use named users, real persons. So a single person can install and work on as many machines and devices as he/she wants, but he/she cannot share the linked user name with other persons. You can however permanently transfer the “Authorized User” to another person. 
  • Security. IBM Cognos Express 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 the 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.
  • Integration. You are not allowed to link to other products of IBM Cognos directly (so, Cognos BI, Cognos TM1; Cognos Executive Viewer or other Cognos Express installs). Technically, with some  serious hassle, this is possible, as Express is a combined packaging of those individual products, but as that is the case, why should you.
  • Serious kit bit. You don’t get Cognos Event Studio, and that is so unfortunate. But apart from that, if you look at the matrix, it is a serious bit of kit you can get.

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.

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