Cognos Adds Excel Plug-In

Cognos Corp. ( is reaching out to users who won’t stray far from Microsoft Excel.

The latest addition to Cognos’ PowerPlay line of business intelligence tools, PowerPlay Enterprise Server, will add an Excel client to its existing roster of OLAP cube access routes – browser, Windows client and PowerPlay Personal Server for mobile users.

The idea is to allow users already comfortable with manipulating data in Excel to easily view and report on OLAP data from the Cognos server in Microsoft’s popular spreadsheet software. To simplify the process, Cognos developers wanted to work around the complicated data extractions and pivot table constructions Excel users currently must perform to view multi-dimensional data.

Cognos’ solution was to create an Excel plug-in with a footprint of less than 10 MB. Users navigate a dialog box to slice and dice the OLAP cube, then view and manipulate the results in Excel. The plug-in works with both Excel 95 and Excel 97. With the more recent version of Excel, Cognos created a "dimension line" toolbar that allows for drill down into the OLAP cube right in Excel rather than in the Cognos dialog box.

PowerPlay for Excel works with OLAP cubes created with software from Cognos, Microsoft Corp., Hyperion Solutions, IBM Corp. and products based on the OLE DB for OLAP standard.

PowerPlay Enterprise Server is scheduled for availability next month. The n-tier distributed architecture of Enterprise Server, which supports Windows NT and Unix for scalability, is designed to deploy OLAP data to the enterprise from a single source to ensure that all business users work from a unified data set.

Pricing for the server and the Excel-based client option has not been announced. -- Scott Bekker, Staff Reporter

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.