Difference between Cognos Express and Enterprise Licensing?


If the code and versions are the same, then what’s the difference between Cognos Express and Enterprise licensing?

Answer: User counts and Price!

Difference between Cognos Express and Enterprise

IBM made a big change in Cognos Express this spring when they announced they would eliminate the separate code base of Express. This means Cognos Express would be the same software and version of Cognos Enterprise. Check out Lodestar’s blog on this announcement - Cognos Express Version 10.2.2 = Big Changes. However, the change by IBM’s Business Analytics team actually confused a lot of people.


The biggest restriction is really a licensing or paperwork distinction in the number of users you are allowed to have in Cognos Express. IBM Cognos Express is designed for smaller deployments and mid-market companies. In IBM Cognos Express, you can’t exceed 100 total users of which no more than 50 can be Express TM1/ Performance Management users. If you exceed it, you need to trade up to IBM Cognos Enterprise licensing. Look for a future Lodestar blog on this topic.


The other big difference is the price! Express is priced to make IBM Business Analytics affordable to smaller companies. (Kudos to IBM!) There are some other small difference but today I am going to focus on the cost. To help explain the price differential, I will show you two similar configurations that would be typical in a mid-market business analytics purchase. I will assume the client is looking for Cognos Performance Management (aka TM1) for Business Planning and Forecasting and the robust Cognos Business Intelligence functionality for dashboards, mobile, operational reports and more.

Let’s do a side by side comparison of the licensing cost for IBM Cognos Business Analytics. Cognos Express vs Cognos BI & TM1 Enterprise on premise software. The licensing cost does include one year support.


In Cognos Express, we do not distinguish between users and power users so the licensing is a little more simplistic. The connector covers the server components and gives you up to 1600 PVU’s so we don’t need to calculate the server’s processing power like we do in Cognos Enterprise. Finally, I used the separate licenses for the non-production to get the client a test environment. The two separate licenses (non-prod BI and non-prod TM1) are cheaper than the Non-Prod complete licenses that includes both. (Don’t ask me to explain why.)

1 Express Administrator

1 Express Complete Connector

20 Express Complete Users (TM1 and BI)

1 Express Non-Production Environment TM1

1 Express Non-Production Environment BI

TOTAL COST $48,940*


In Cognos Enterprise, we have different licenses if the user is a power user versus if they are regular users. To keep it simple, I assumed we have 1 BI Admin, and 2 TM1 power users that build planning models. I also included the non-production license for TM1 - however excluded the BI non-production because in Enterprise, the authorized user licenses of BI include non-production. (See also: Why buy a Cognos BI or TM1 Non-Production environment for Test/Development?)

The most confusing difference is that Enterprise TM1 requires an Analytic Server component that is based on Processor Value Unit. For more information on this check out my blog on this What the Heck is a IBM PVU? or visit IBM’s website http://www-01.ibm.com/software/passportadvantage/pvu_licensing_for_customers.html .

For this example, I’ll assume we are using 4 cores that are rated at 70 PVU’s but that might be low based on your models. Lodestar can help you estimate your PVU needs.

1 BI Analytic Administrator

15 BI Analytic Users

2 Performance Management Modelers (TM1 Power Users)

14 Performance Management Users (TM1 Users)

280 PVUs of Analytic Server (Estimated 4 cores at a 70 PVU rating)

280 PVUS of Non-Production Analytic Server

TOTAL COST $164,610*

As you can plainly see, there’s some serious value in Express.

For a similarly configured system you saved $115,670*!

*Please note that these numbers are based on the current IBM guidelines at the time of this blog posting and are subject to change. Please contact Lodestar at Sales@LodestarSolutions.com for an update as this information could change.

Support Savings:

But it doesn’t stop there! You must remember the second year of support is based on the purchase price of the software. So assuming 20% support cost, the difference in support the following year would be $23,134.

Am I on the Wrong Licensing Model?

Some of you reading this may be existing Cognos Enterprise clients with smaller deployments and wondering, “Am I on the wrong licensing model?” The answer is that you may be! IBM has changed the licensing quite a bit over the years. Back in the day, Cognos Express didn’t exist. To confirm if you are on the correct licensing model, call Lodestar Solutions and schedule a “What the Heck Do I Own – Cognos” session with one of our Business Analytic Coaches. We will help you decode your licenses and answer that question of, "What is the difference between Cognos Express and Enterprise?" to help you save money! Email us at Sales@LodestarSolutions.com for more information.

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