This chapter introduces the powerful analytic resources available in an Oracle Database installed with the OLAP option. It consists of the following topics:
OLAP Technology Within the Oracle Database
- OLAP Technology Within the Oracle Database
- Using OLAP to Answer Business Questions
- Common Analytical Applications
- Deciding When to Use Analytic Workspaces
- Working With Oracle OLAP
- Process Overview: Creating and Maintaining Analytic Workspaces
Multidimensional technology is now available within the Oracle Database. Organizations no longer need to choose between a multidimensional OLAP database and a relational database. By integrating multidimensional tables and an analytic engine into the database, Oracle provides the power of multidimensional analysis along with the manageability, scalability, and reliability of the Oracle Database.
Problems Maintaining Two Distinct Systems
The integration of multidimensional technology in a relational database is important because maintaining a standalone multi dimensional database is costly. It requires additional hardware and DBAs who are skilled at using the specialized administrative tools of the multidimensional database. Moreover, standalone multi dimensional databases require applications that use proprietary APIs. This severely limits the number of applications that can be run against them, not only Using OLAP to Answer Business Questions because fewer applications are available in these APIs, but because all the data that they run on must be transferred from the relational database to the multidimensional database. These requirements often force enterprises into supporting two sets of query and reporting tools, one for the relational database and the other for the multidimensional database.
Full Integration of Multidimensional Technology
In contrast, the OLAP option is fully integrated into the Oracle Database. DBAs use the same tools to administer this option as they use to administer all other components of the database. The DBA can decide the best location for storing and calculating the data as part of optimizing the operations of the database. A single application can access both relational and multidimensional data. SQL-based applications can now use pure SQL against information-rich relational views of multidimensional data provided by an OLAP-enabled Oracle Database. OLAP calculations can be queried using SQL, enabling application developers to leverage their investment in SQL while expanding the analytic sophistication of their software to include modeling, forecasting, and what-if analysis. Standard reporting applications can present the results of complex multidimensional calculations, while ad-hoc querying tools such as custom aggregate members and custom measures can expand the analyst's range of calculation functions.