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7/15/2007
02:27 PM
Seth Grimes
Seth Grimes
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Can Oracle 11g OLAP Query Acceleration Alter BI?

Oracle 11g is a blockbuster release, sure to maintain the company's dominant market position. Yet despite nearly 500 technology features new in 11g, InformationWeek Editor at Large Charles Babcock leads his recounting with a regression-testing feature and hot-standby systems. Those options are great but they don't send shivers down the spines of analytics types like me. I'd love to see new OLAP features that will transform the BI market, but what does 11g offer? Let's take a closer look.

Yes, Oracle 11g is a blockbuster release, sure to maintain the company's dominant market position.Yet despite nearly 500 technology features new in 11g, InformationWeek Editor at Large Charles Babcock leads his recounting with a regression-testing feature and hot-standby systems. Those options are great for you CIOs out there but they don't send shivers down the spines of analytics types like me. What does? I'd love to see new OLAP features that will transform the BI market, just what Oracle says 11g offers. Let's take a closer look.

IE editor and fellow blogger Doug Henschen reports on 11g's new OLAP-cube based management of materialized views, #3 feature on Babcock's new and noteworthy list. Oracle Database Senior VP Andy Mendelsohn, quoted by Doug, touts use of "OLAP cubes as a transparent performance accelerator" for access to materialized views. This feature is important because, according to Mendelsohn, 60 percent of Oracle's data warehousing customers use materialized views. Users "won't even know they're using OLAP."

My take? Oracle is admitting that interactive, slice-and-dice, pivot analyses have been too expensive -- too slow and difficult -- in the majority of Oracle data warehouses. The company is righting the situation with an accelerator for their previously delivered kludge, for DW reliance on materialized views, which by the way strikes me as functionally equivalent to the massive precomputation of aggregates that a number of non-RDBMS OLAP engines used to be notorious for.

Babcock quotes Charles Rozwat, Oracle executive VP for server technologies: "Oracle's new OLAP features take business intelligence 'from a specialized niche into a much broader market.'" So we can add Oracle to the long list of companies promising BI for the masses. All it took was a query accelerator!

It appears that 11g's OLAP-cube based management of materialized views is only enabling technology, that it does not deliver new end-user analytics. The accelerator sounds like good stuff -- and so do 11g's binary XML handling, encryption and compression. These new features are nutritious fare for the reliability and performance hungry database administrator and CIO. But sorry, a query accelerator will not transform BI.


Notes

  • Oracle's data sheet for the OLAP Option to the Oracle Database, 11g is available on-line.

  • You can compare it to the 10g data sheet.

  • For a write-up on the Oracle BI Suite Enterprise Edition Plus product, check out Mark Rittman's blog.


    Seth Grimes is an analytics strategist with Washington DC based Alta Plana Corporation.Oracle 11g is a blockbuster release, sure to maintain the company's dominant market position. Yet despite nearly 500 technology features new in 11g, InformationWeek Editor at Large Charles Babcock leads his recounting with a regression-testing feature and hot-standby systems. Those options are great but they don't send shivers down the spines of analytics types like me. I'd love to see new OLAP features that will transform the BI market, but what does 11g offer? Let's take a closer look.

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