Tag Archives: ibm

TM1 Maximum overdrive! Running TI processes in parallel with multiple cores

The Problem

Since the release of IBM Cognos TM1 10.2 it has been possible to leverage multi-core CPUs into 100% action as the MTQ (Multi-Threaded Query) allows to spread queries along multiple cores. Unfortunately this applies only to queries (as figure 2 here illustrates), therefore the TI processes are still ran in single thread and can only use one core at a time. This quite annoying because if you have for ex. 64 cores you end up running CPU-intensive TI processes only with one core! With some serious magic this limitation can be of course turned around with little help of tm1runTI.exe tool. With it’s help we can start multiple TI processes at the same time via command prompt and achieve the consumption of more than one core at the same time!

The Solution

This trick consists of three separate “modules”

  • tm1runti_execute_parametrized.bat – Parametrized batch file that wraps the execution of tm1runTI.exe
  • Maintenance.Execute.Tm1RunTI.Parametrized – Universal parametrized wrapper TI process that wraps the calling of the batch file above. Can be used to run any TI process in parallel execution mode.
  • A parametrized TI process that can safely be ran simultaenously to avoid locking. For example a version copy process parametrized by year/month etc. See details in the “Usage example” section.
The parametrized batch file code

The parametrized batch file code

The batch file itself is very straightforward: it needs authentication information and the name of the process that is going to be executed in parallel.

The parametrized wrapper TI process (Maintenance.Execute.Tm1RunTI.Parametrized) also takes parameters: TI process that is going to be executed in parallel and it’s parameter names and corresponding values:

Parametrized TI process parameters

Parametrized TI process parameters

The actual code is also nice and simple. It just checks whether the parameter values are given and generates a command prompt batch file call and the executes it in the command prompt:

The parametrized TI process code

The parametrized TI process code

Usage example

Now that the core modules are introduced it’s time for and usage example. Lets say you have multiple big cubes and you want to make copies of versions in each of the cube periodically. With big cubes and big data amounts that could take long as TM1 only uses 1 core for the TI process execution. But here we can now make a big difference: we can divide the copying of the versions by year and do the copying for each cube at the same time (the only limitation here is the amount of cores available).

Here is the example code:

Sample usage code

Sample usage code

What we do here is that in the outer while loop (has been left out of the picture) we iterate trough all the cubes that we want to process with the version copying. Then in the inner while loop we go through years between 2006 and 2018. Depending on the amount of cubes we could end up with for example +100 separate TI process calls. As they are separated from each other by the time dimension they dont lock each other and can be ran at the same time (this is the most important part: one must design the runnable TI process in way that when it’s executed in separate threads the executions dont lock up each other!).

So, when we bring this piece of code into action we sure can take everything out of the expensive PVU’s as we can see here:

Task manager seeing red

Task manager seeing red

TM1Top: TM1 having busy time processing

TM1Top: TM1 having busy time processing

Summary

The 10.2.2 introduction of MTQ was a relief and it’s a feature that should have been there 10 years ago when multi-core CPU’s arrived. Unfortunately TM1 still lacks the out-of-the-box feature to execute TI processes in parallel but with this little trick we can overcome this limitation and reveal the full power of the CPU in our TM1 solution!

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Using Prompt API for IBM Cognos BI Report Studio

Prompt API for IBM Cognos BI

Prompt API for IBM Cognos BI

Default values for report prompts? It doesn’t sound very difficult does it? Well as far as the default values are static you can define them easily with your report properties but in the real business world there’s no such thing as static. Change is just around the corner and so we need to have more dynamic reporting solutions. Making dynamic default values for report prompts is something that should be a out-of-the-box-feature (as it is in Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services for example) but with IBM Cognos BI Report Studio it has been about making some JavaScript/HTML/DOM hacks. Now they’ve released Prompt API for IBM Cognos BI to tackle down this issue. Well, it’s still Javascript but at least there is a documented API how to use it. Let’s give it a shot.

In my simple example I’ve created a report with two prompts and one HTML Item. The first “kkprompt”-prompt fetches the default value that is going to be selected in the another prompt. You can later on hide the first prompt box because it doesn’t need any user interaction. Now, to get the “defaultselprompt” prompt working with dynamic default value we need to add the following code inside the HTML Item.

prompt_api_code

And that’s pretty much it! I’m still amazed that this kind of feature is behind some javascript code and not available in the prompt box properties but hey, maybe in the next major release?

-GD


Scheduled backup solution for TM1 with 7zbackup

7zip_logo

Working with in-memory applications like TM1 it’s essential to have a working backup strategy. TM1 doesn’t provide any built-in functionality for this but with little help from 3rd party tools one can easily build up a lightweight and working backup solution. What you need is 7zbackup, 7-Zip 9.20 and Windows PowerShell 2.0.

Getting started, step 1: Modify the “selection file”

(Notice: I personally needed to go back to version 7zbackup 1.8.5 stable to get the script running succesfully.)

After installing the required applications start with modifying the 7zbackup “selection” config file. That’s the file that contains the configuration needed to run through the backup process. There are many different parameters that you can modify but let’s just go through the most important ones.

includesource=<path_to_your_tm1_datafiles_folder>\datafiles|alias=PROD

Here you define what to back up. Datafiles folder is the heart of TM1 so you need to back it up entirely. If you want you can also include the logfiles folder but its not necessary.

rotate=60

As it says in the comment line This variable holds the number of historical archive backups you want to keep on target media. I tend to play safe and there’s disk space available nowadays so two months of rotation should be enough. Just remember to copy the actual backup zips to remote location periodically so you got also a real disaster recovery possibility.

There are also other parameters you may like to config but this will do it for us now.

Step 2: Set up a batch file to run the PowerShell script

Next we set up a classic bat-file to make it possible to execute the PowerShell script from windows scheduler. Here is the contents of the bat-file:


@ECHO off
for /f "tokens=1" %%a in ('powershell.exe ""') do set WD=%%a
powershell.exe -Noninteractive -Noprofile -Command "&{<path_to_your_7zbackup_folder>\7zBackup.ps1 --type full --selection <full_path_to_your_selection_file> --destpath <path_to_your_backup_destination_folder> --logfile <path_to_your_7zbackup_logging_folder>\daily_backup_%WD%.txt}"

Basically what it does is that it runs the 7zBackup.ps1 script file telling it to take a full backup, use the settings from the selection file, put the zipped backup in the given destination folder and put the 7zBackup own logging files in given directory and give the logfile a timestamped name.

If you haven’t configured the script execution policy you may encounter this error message:

File 7zBackup.ps1 cannot be loaded because the execution of scripts is disabled on this system. Please see "get-help about_signing" for more details.

That means you need to set the execution policy to allow executing custom scripts. More information here.

Step 3: Schedule the backup process with Windows Scheduler

The last thing to do is to schedule the backup process on daily basis (or more often if you like). There are 5 tasks to set up there:

  1. Run SaveDataAll() on the TM1 server to make sure that all the data is written to disk before the backup starts
  2. Shutdown the TM1 server: NET STOP <your_tm1_server_service_name>
  3. Execute the backup bat file (created in step 2)
  4. Start the TM1 server again: NET START <your_tm1_server_service_name>
  5. (OPTIONAL): Copy the newly created backup zip file from destination folder to your remote backup storage location.

Here we are! Happy backuping!

-GD


Managing hierarchies being used in IBM Cognos TM1 – precautions

TM1 doesn’t like duplicate names in hierarchies

IBM Cognos TM1 is an excellent tool when it comes to planning, budgeting and forecasting. It also has hierarchy management capabilities but often you want to import hierarchies and data from an enterprise MDM solution such as Master Data Services (MDS) in SQL Server.

When  importing hierarchies and data to TM1 one must be careful with the business codes, ids and names of the entities being imported to TM1 since it has an interesting “limitation” (or feature, depends on from who you ask): all the elements within a dimension must have not only a unique id but also a unique business code and a unique name. It means that the following cost center source data example cannot be imported because the elements have duplicate names (although the business codes differ):

Type Code Name Parent
Consolidated 1000 Administration
Leaf 1 General 1000
Leaf 2 Purchasing 1000
Consolidated 2000 Production
Leaf 3 General 2000

To prevent situations like this and prevent having problems when importing data to TM1 one must be sure that there are no duplicate names or codes in the source data. In MDS this situation can be handled nicely by using MDS business rules.

Deploy Business Rules to prevent duplicates

In MDS you can define business rules to automatically keep your data in shape and also make some automatic processing to your data if wanted. Now we want to prevent duplicate names in the cost center data (codes are automatically unique so we don’t need to think about them).

Force the cost center names to be unique

Force the cost center names to be unique

Now that the business rule is defined and published we can apply it to the data itself:

Apply the business rule to existing data

Apply the business rule to existing data

As we can see two cost centers have the same name “General” and that violates the business rule definition.

Two cost centers have the same name

Two cost centers have the same name

The red flag indicates that there is a problem with the data and it needs to be fixed. You can also define business users to have notification emails when the validation rules fail so that someone can instantly fix the issues before they are causing errors in the downstream systems such like TM1.

After the the names are fixed and the business rules are applied again the situation is OK and the data meets the quality needs of TM1 and its ready to go!

No duplicates exist - the data is good to go

No duplicates exist – the data is good to go

Cost center hierarchy after fixing the data

Cost center hierarchy after fixing the data

Extra notes

Although we can prevent duplicate names within leafs and consolidated members independently the business rules cannot be used to prevent them in both simultaneously: you can still have leaf member with name “General” and a consolidated member with name “General”. And that’s also bad for TM1.

In most cases the hierarchy data goes first into a data warehousing system before it’s loaded to TM1. If that’s the case you can brute force the uniqueness of the names by storing both the consolidated and leaf members into a single table and then defining a unique constraint on the name column. That will keep your data well-formed. It’s not the most beautiful way to do it but a very effective one. Let’s hope that we can tackle this situation also in the future versions of MDS.