Should I continue IBM Cognos Support?

I am repeatedly asked by clients whether they should continue IBM Cognos Support.   I am a big believer in maintaining IBM Cognos Support as there are a number of benefits.  Many benefits clients don’t even know exist.  There are three basic levels of IBM Cognos Support – Standard, Advantage, and Premier.
Most clients have Standard Support, so I’ll focus on the benefits associated with standard support.

BENEFITS:
New Releases
The biggest benefit is access to new maintenance releases.   As long as you continue support, you have the right to upgrade your software to the new maintenance release.  Please note that when significant functionality is added, there may be a migration fee or a need to upgrade your licenses to get this new functionality.
Support
As long as you continue to be supported, you will have access to contact IBM Cognos Support if you have issues.  Clients have on-line support access to service request management and research issues in the knowledge base.  If you are designated as a support contact for your organization, you have the ability to log service requests via the web or phone.  There are different levels of designation which are primary, secondary and authorized caller.
See the chart from the IBM Cognos Support Plans Guide:
What happens if you let IBM Cognos support lapse?
You will not get access to support and will not be able to upgrade your licenses.  If you recently lapsed, we recommend you contact your support renewal representative and try to get reinstated.  You may be penalized for letting it lapse.  If your support lapsed a long time ago and you want support or to upgrade, contact Lodestar Solutions and we can provide you a competitive quote on new licenses.
Should I pay for support for licenses I am not currently using?
That depends on if you think you will use them.  The prices for IBM Cognos have increased, so if you let maintenance lapse on some of the licenses and you decide you want to use them later, you will be required to purchase new licenses at a higher price.  IBM Cognos Maintenance is 20% of the purchase price and it’s a lot cheaper to pay maintenance instead of buying new.   I recommend you evaluate if other departments in your organization may need licenses or see if you can expand IBM Cognos to solve another business issue.
If you need more information please check out IBM Cognos Support.
The below chart is from the IBM Cognos Support Plan Guide:

What You Should Know About IBM Cognos 10 Licensing

Last week, I attended the C10 BI partner training in Toronto and despite the chilly, snowy weather the product was hot!  Cognos 10 is like dessert to C8.  The base functionality for IBM Cognos 10 licensing is very similar to C8, so upgrades will be pretty painless; however Cognos added functionality that is SWEET.   My favorite was the Business Insight functionality.  Enhanced consumers and higher will be able to create their own workspace where they can analyze and interact with the information displayed through a dashboard unique to them.  For the semi-power user with a BI Advanced Business Author license or higher they will be able to use Business Insight Advance which starts to combine the functionality of C8 Query Studio, C8 Analysis Studio and Report Studio Express in to one.  The good news is that unlike Report Studio Express, Business Insight Advance can report off relational data.

I believe as clients start to understand the functionality and benefits of Business Insight, end users will leverage it to be their “Start of the Day” dashboard.  The items that they are most concerned about each morning will be displayed whether it is sales metrics, inventory data, or cash forecasting.  It will be displayed how they want to see it in drillable tables, charts, graphs… The user can select a prompt value to filter all the panes simultaneously to reflect your selection.

So what you need to know about C10 licensing is that if you are on C8 and current on support, you can migrate your licenses to C10 without cost; however if your end users are Consumers or Recipients they will not get rights to the new functionality like Business Insights.  They will be business as usual with C8 functionality.   If you want the consumers to get the sweet dessert offered by C10, the licenses will need to be upgraded to the Enhanced Consumer license and there is a cost associated with this upgrade.   Similarly, if you have a Business Author license which gives you Query Studio but want more robust functionality offered in the Business Insight Advanced, you would need to upgrade to the BI Advanced Business Author at a cost.

The IBM Cognos 10 licensing at first glance can be confusing. But Lodestar Solutions is here to help answer your questions.  The graph below should help clarify the functionality associated with the various licenses.

IBM Cognos 10 licensing functionality

 

For more information, call Lodestar Solutions 813-254-2040

 

Benefits to Upgrading Your IBM Cognos Planning Licenses

IBM recently announced a major licensing change for their IBM Cognos Planning licenses.  Clients that are on 8.4.1 of IBM Cognos Planning and own Contributor, will receive an equivalent license for IBM Cognos TM1 Contributor.  This is great news for clients looking to complement Planning with TM1.  Utilizing TM1 will require the purchase of the TM1 Modeler and TM1 Analytic server licenses.

With this licensing change, they are requiring all IBM Cognos Planning licensing clients to be on the latest Cognos Planning Enterprise Licensing Model to download 8.4.1.   Clients who purchased Cognos Planning or Adaytum Planning prior to the IBM acquisition may be affected and be required to modify their IBM Cognos licensing.

For all older Cognos Planning licenses clients, there are a lot of benefits to upgrading your licenses.

If you are currently on an older licensing model which would allow you to download 8.4.0 but not the latest 8.4.1 IBM Cognos Planning, you have two options:

Option 1: Stay on current license structure and upgrade to 8.4.0

Considerations:
• Job servers – Provided you are  on the old Adaytum licensing that restricted use to a single server, additional job servers can not be added to Cognos Planning
• Future patches and updates are being created for 8.4.1.  Currently with Planning  8.4.0,  neither Windows 7 or Internet Explorer 8 are listed as a supported platform. http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg27018542
• Planning Generation of Framework for BI is not included in the older licensing.
• Upgrading from Planning 8.4.0 to 8.4.1 is a complete uninstall and reinstall of the Planning software
• Planning Contributors will NOT receive an equivalent license for IBM Cognos TM1 Contributor.
• Non-Production Environment would require an additional license

Benefits: IBM Cognos Planning 8.4.0 provides a new and more robust users interface for the end users.  Other benefits depend on the current version you are utilizing.

Option 2: Trade up the licenses to Enterprise Planning Licensing Model
Benefits:
• Allows for the download and installation of Cognos 8.4.1 the latest release of Cognos Planning
• Job Servers-  The Enterprise licensing allows for a reasonable number of servers so multiple job servers can be added to Cognos Planning
• Future patches and updates are being created for 8.4.1. Planning   Currently Planning 8.4.1   Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8 are supported.  http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg27018542
• Contributor licenses include the Excel Add-in for Contributor
• Contributors will have rights to receive notifications and alerts from Event Studio
• EP Modelers(fka Analyst) will have rights to use Event Studio
• EP Modelers(fka Analyst) will have rights to model and access any source (both metadata and data) via Framework Manager, including underlying components and services
• Planning Generation of Framework for BI is included in the licensing.
• Planning Contributors will receive an equivalent license for IBM Cognos TM1 Contributor. However, purchase of the TM1 Analytic server and PM Model would be required.
• Most new licensing models are based on named users, therefore no additional licenses are required for a Non-Production environment.   The exception is a PVU licensing model.

Lodestar Solutions strongly recommends all clients with Cognos Planning licenses – review their licensing and consider trading up to the new licensing model as there are many benefits. We would be happy to help.  For information contact us at Sales@LodestarSolutions.com.

Save Money on BI Purchase – Part 2

This article is a Part 2 on how to Save Money on BI Purchase.

4. Support Renewal– Software Maintenance/Support renew fees are recurring, so when you negotiate your contract consider the support renewal. Software providers often state it’s a set percentage of the price. Remember that the savings you negotiate upfront on support/maintenance will result in savings every year.

Secret 5: Support Maintenance a percentage of the purchase price. Some companies make the support renewal a percentage of the list price. However, ask for it to be X% of the purchase price after the discount and make sure it’s written in the contract.

Secret 6: You can cap the increase of Support Maintenance. Put language in the contract that says the annual maintenance fees can not increase by more than Consumer Price Index + 3%. This will protect you years down the road if the software company is sold to a huge company that wants to jack the prices by 10%.

Secret 7: Often times the first year maintenance is bundled in the purchase price. So if they are charging you 20% of the purchase price for support, guess what – you are paying twice as much. If you bought it for X, this includes the license + 1st year Maintenance. In year two, you will receive a maintenance bill for 20% of X – this is equal to 20% of (License +1st year maintenance). You might not be able to get this changed, but just knowing it helps your negotiating power.

5. Lock in Pricing – When you negotiate a large purchase, you may underestimate the number of licenses. Yes, you can always buy more, but shelf-ware is expensive. In the initial purchase contract, ask for price protection for one year. They rarely go over a year or past their fiscal year end. By asking for language in the contract stating for one year you can buy licenses at X, you make sure you protect yourself when your project is successful and you need more licenses.

6. Put everything in the contract – I am surprised that people don’t request the descriptions of the licenses to be included in the contract. Software companies regularly change their license mix and pricing. So make sure the contract clearly states what functionality is included in the Administrator license. Years from now, when you can’t recall your license mix and the names have all changed, you will appreciate this detail in the contract.

7. You have what they need – Software sales representatives have needs too. Besides selling licenses, they need good references, presenters and clients willing to do press releases. While you are beating up your sales representative because now you are an educated consumer, offer him/her a bone. Instead, suggest that after a successfully completed project you would be willing to be a reference, do a press release or present at the annual user group in Vegas. Maybe you’ll even get a free trip out of it.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you or your company is about to make a major software purchases.

See Part 1 of Save Money on BI Purchase HERE

Save Money on BI Purchase – Part 1

Part 1 of Save Money on BI Purchase – As a licensed attorney with 20+ years in the software industry, I’ve decided to share the secrets of saving money on major software purchases. Here’s what the software companies don’t tell you and what you need to know to negotiate a contract…

1. Buying from a Reseller – Many software companies have a channel of partners that they authorize to resell and implement their solutions. These organizations get a margin from the software company to resell the software. You probably think “why would I go to them when I can go direct, and get the best deal.” Direct is not always the best deal.

Secret 1: Most resellers don’t make their money selling software, they are really consulting firms and their profit margins are much better on services. They want you to get a great deal on the software so there are more funds for the implementation of the software. Believe it or not, resellers can often sell for less than the software manufacture, because resellers don’t need layers of management’s approval to give you a great deal.

Secret 2: Because resellers are typically smaller companies whose livelihood is successful implementations, they care that you have the correct product mix. Huge sums of dollars are spent each year on Shelf-ware (software purchased and never used), because Direct Software Sales people are sales people and rarely really understand the software and licenses needed for your project. Resellers are committed to your success – after the contract is signed, they will still be working with you, whereas the Direct Software Sales person will most likely be assigned a new territory of accounts right after you sign.

2. Time to Buy – Software companies are famous for the quarter end discounts because their bonuses are based on the quarter. So find out when the quarter ends for the software manufacture and plan accordingly.

Secret 3: Resellers often don’t care about the quarter end and are willing to give you the great deals all year round.

3. Sales Tax –Did you know not all software is taxed? Many software companies will automatically charge you sales tax because it safe. They don’t have to keep up with the ever changing state laws and clients don’t usually question it.

Secret 4: Many states have loop-holes that allow you to avoid sales tax on major software purchases. For example some states don’t tax software if the client never receives media (ie CD, Disc or Tape). In those states, you want to make sure the vendor only lets you download the software and doesn’t send you a CD. Illinois has a five part test to determine if a software purchase is taxable, so you want to make sure your purchase contract meets the five part test of Title 86 Part 130 Section 130.1935 of the IL Revenue Code. Do your homework as state rules are ever changing as states scramble for funds. But the 7-10% savings on your purchase makes the research time worth it.

Stay tuned as our next posting will cover 4 more tips and secrets on how your organization can Save Money on BI Purchase

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