The five key benefits of an effective OLAP solution: business-focused multidimensional data, business-focused calculations, trustworthy data and calculations, speed-of-thought analysis, and flexible, self-service reporting. Here, we show how Essbase and Oracle OLAP provide these benefits, even though they come at the problem from different points of view.
Recall that Oracle Essbase was designed to solve the problems of spreadsheet hell and spread marts faced by people in the line of business. It does so by offering an independent multidimensional database that centralizes data from disparate data sources and arranges that data into dimensions that are intuitive for business users.
Because Essbase offers drill-back to the original data sources, administrators can choose whether to store only summary-level data or detail data as well. Essbase enables administrators to create, store, and run business calculations, ensuring that consistent calculations and results are available across spreadsheets and reports. Essbase includes powerful front-end analysis tools that work within Microsoft Excel, which makes it easy for analysts to query an Essbase database, calculate the database, and create what-if scenarios within the comfort of a familiar user interface. The combination of centralized data, centralized calculations, and front-end tools support speed-of-thought analysis for end users in the line of business. A broad array of user-friendly reporting tools makes flexible, self-service reporting a reality.
Through its ownership by Hyperion, Essbase has evolved into an engine for packaged BI and EPM applications. Essbase supports a variety of packaged reporting tools, BI applications, and EPM applications, such as some of those found in Oracle Enterprise Performance Management System and in OBIEE Plus.
Oracle OLAP is part of the Oracle Database. It resides in the performance layer of the Oracle Database and runs in the Oracle Database kernel. Oracle OLAP benefits from many of the features of the Oracle Database, including data types, SQL support, high availability, scalability, user access management, security, maintenance tasks, and backups.
Oracle OLAP analytic workspaces centralize summary-level data in cubes and present that data in an intuitive star schema, designed for business reporting and analysis. Summary-level OLAP data can be joined to detail-level relational data in the Oracle database with simple table joins. Cubes offer fine control over aggregation to support speed-of-thought analysis for end users. Administrators can maintain business calculations within the analytic workspace, ensuring consistent, trustworthy calculations for an organization. The use of cube-organized materialized views allows for greatly improving the performance of queries and simplification of summary management. End users can continue to use the user-friendly BI applications and reporting tools that they are familiar with, such as those found in OBIEE, Application Express, and third-party SQL-based tools, while enjoying vastly improved performance of end-user analytic queries.
The purpose of any OLAP solution is to solve problems for both business users and IT departments. For business users, it enables fast and intuitive access to centralized data and related calculations for the purposes of analysis and reporting. For IT, an OLAP system enhances a data warehouse or other relational database with aggregate data and business calculations. The needs of both constituencies can be met effectively with either Essbase or Oracle OLAP.
Businesses need BI to compete in today's economy, and OLAP is the cornerstone in an effective BI solution. Oracle offers two market-leading OLAP technologies, each of which provides everything you need to realize the key benefits of OLAP. Whichever technology you choose, our hope is that this book gives you the tools to select, design, construct, and deploy a comprehensive OLAP system - one that empowers the people in your organization to make better, faster decisions for today and more accurate, fact-based predictions for tomorrow.