Where there's OLTP, can OLAP be far behind? It shouldn't be. In fact, the latest
generation of multidimensional analytical software is a great reason to revisit
our database and data-warehouse clients. Here's why and how.
Datamart lntegrator Returns With OLAP
Desktop OLAP has been a lucrative lead in
for Maryland integrator CSP. Next up: server bundles.
Like many integrators, Client Server Professional
(CSP), a 30 person firm headquartered in Calverton, MD, works hard
to stay in front of the technology adoption curve. CSP has built an impressive
roster of clients by offering expert services for client/server and OLTP products.
Lately, however, the integrator has been returning to its installed base with
a new proposition: front end solutions for data warehouses. CSP's hook
is the latest generation of packaged multidimensional analysis tools. Case in
point is the multistaged approach CSP is taking with telecom giant MCI.
CSP helped develop a datamart about two years ago for MCI's Arlington, VA based
financial information group. It began as a standard Sybase II relational
database with custom retrieval tools that CSP wrote in PowerBuilder.
The reports created in PowerBuilder provided substantial improvements over
what MCI had been using, but when a new manager joined the financial group last
year, he wanted CSP to add open analysis tools.
CSP evaluated many OLAP tools, including a package called Brio from Brio
Technology in Palo Alto, CA. Bud Michels, president of CSP, liked it and
gave an evaluation copy of BrioQuery Explorer to the manager. "Within days
he was building Brio repositories for his team to use," Michels says.
Foot In the Door
And that's no surprise, he adds. After all, the datamart's goal was to give MCI's
business analysts a tool for efficiently and effectively analyzing revenue statistics.
But to do this properly, they must routinely juggle five or six different factors
to uncover patterns, notes Michels. "That's very difficult with a two dimensional
spreadsheet or columnar information from a standard relational database."
Brio, however, provides pivot reports that let users slice, dice, and
drill down through numerous different variables at the same time.
Moreover, current generation desktop analysis tools like Brio are designed
to tie into as many open standards as possible, pulling data from relational
databases using the same routines. Because Brio has its own internal data cube,
complex analysis can be done quickly regardless of the data source
Other analysts at MCI saw what CSP did for the financial group and wanted
their own copies. "A copy here and there of a relatively inexpensive desktop
package may not seem like much, but it adds up," Michels says."MCI
has hundreds of analysts and salespeople. We sell two or three copies each week."
All told, that meant more than 100 copies last year.
With so many new users, CSP is called in to do Brio training every month. That
brings in additional revenue and keeps the integrator's foot in the door for
new projects. In fact, CSP recently sold MCI a Brio On Demand server to exact
data and further optimize it, so that routine queries may be performed faster.
"It's just an evaluation unit, but I know it will impress the socks off
the managers at MCI," says Michels. "It won't be long before we'll
be installing these $20,000 servers all over the place."
A copy here and there of a relatively inexpensive desktop package may not
seem like much, but it adds up.