Cognos Retirement Marks Completion of Transition to Summit

Filed in Featured, General by on December 8, 2016

Tableau data graph

The Cognos ReportNet reporting tool is retiring at the end of 2016, completing the transition to “Summit”, the UMass enterprise data warehouse and business intelligence/analytics platform. Although Cognos had become an important part of conducting business in UMass Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell (BDL), the transition to Summit has made use of next generation reporting and data analytics technologies possible.

Cognos usage expanded significantly with the release of PeopleSoft Student Administration modules for BDL in 2005. Not long after its release, Cognos became a key part of conducting back office business processes across BDL. Whether it was building lists of students about to graduate, reviewing quality of new applicants, or inquiring about what needed to be next in the financial aid process, Cognos complemented PeopleSoft in conducting university business. It also became a simple interface tool, where data could be extracted to enable third party systems and web sites.

The use of Cognos grew organically over time. UMOL had started using Cognos prior to 2005. Some finance and HR reports eventually made it to Cognos as did administrative reporting. At its peak, there were over 400 users, over 1000 report recipients, and more than 20,000 reports.

Around 2005, as recommended by a study conducted by an external consulting firm at UMass, the university started investing in building an enterprise Business Intelligence program. Many of our peer institutions had already begun this investment years earlier.

The enterprise BI/analytics program was named “Summit”, not be tied to any particular tool, rather, to group a set of capabilities:

  • Data is gathered from many sources and transformed to make answering complex questions easier, such as those requiring cross-subject analysis
  • Interactive dashboards and reports, using prompts and multiple drill paths to detail
  • Data visualization
  • Web integration allows for co-locating analytics content from different sources, i.e. reports from Summit and PeopleSoft can be co-located to provide a richer experience
  • Analytics Mart allows direct data access for campus while making analytics results available for mass consumption
  • Capability to integrate multiple BI and Analytics tools for a seamless experience, such as SAS, Tableau, and OBIEE
  • Many others …

So far, Summit has successfully rolled out several data marts, dozens of dashboards housing thousands of reports, dashboard development capability to many campus users, and has put in place the foundation for deployment of predictive and prescriptive analytics solutions. While many of the current dashboards are Finance and HR centric, retirement of Cognos allows for deployment for several dashboards centered around Student data.

In figure 1, you see a logical depiction of Summit’s architecture.

Summit data flow architecture diagram
Figure 1

UITS has been working closely with leads in each back office and campus executives to plan a smooth transition off Cognos. Much effort has been expended by all in making sure business continues smoothly after December 31, 2016. And resources have been dedicated to support users as Cognos is shutoff. Putting this effort behind us, will allow data analysts across UMass to focus on finding new insights in the vast treasure trove of data we already collect. More exciting times are ahead for data geeks – like me – at UMass!

To share ideas for enhancement, request content, report an issue, or inquire about Summit, please send an email to

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