• Perfect storm tamed by data access SDK

    Simba sells various kinds of data access Software Development Kits (SDKs).  You might ask why; …

  • Google Docs now adds Pivot Tables functionality

    Very interesting news from Google this week as Google Docs now has pivot table functionality.  …

  • SAP BusinessObjects Analysis (formerly known as Pioneer)

    At the SAP Sapphire conference this week, I spent some time looking at the SAP …

  • How Teradata supports SAP BW

    I am at the annual SAP Sapphire conference this week and I attended a couple …

  • The data retention problem for big data

    A lot of companies are developing solutions for the problem of big data.  However, these …

  • Financial customer leverages novel dashboard tables

    One of our large financial customers is using a novel and surprisingly-flexible OLAP dashboard technique …

  • Who needs to populate an OLAP cube if you have everything in memory?

    I was reading an article in Information Management by Shaku Atre about “The Value of …

  • Common interfaces taken one step further

    Simba is a data connectivity software company.  We are thus always dealing with data access …

  • Excel BI Survey 2011

    How Do Excel and Business Intelligence Integrate in Your Organization? Simba invites you to participate …

  • Why isn’t BI use in organizations more pervasive?

    I was reading a recent post on Information Management by Andreas Bitterer entitled “Consumerization and …

  • Collaborate 11

    This year’s premier Oracle Users Group conference, Collaborate 11, just ended in Orlando, and I was lucky enough …

  • Teradata completes acquisition of Aster Data

    The Teradata acquisition of Aster Data has now closed.  Teradata is positioning Aster Data as …

  • How Vertica fits into HP

    Leo Apotheker presented his future strategy for HP and the recent acquisition of Vertica was …

  • Some interesting companies to watch

    Information Management has put out a list of 40 companies to watch which I thought …

  • The benefits of Excel for IT departments

    I was reading a blog post from Bill Baker from May last year entitled “I.T. …

  • BI reporting is a starting point, not an end point

    A large financial institution customer was recently relating how BI reporting was not the end …

  • HP CEO Leo Apotheker showcases Vertica Big Data Appliance

    Lot’s of interesting stuff from HP CEO Leo Apotheker today about cloud computing and big …

  • Why would you need a custom ODBC driver, JDBC driver, or ADO.NET provider?

    When describing the business of Simba Technologies (https://www.simba.com), for example to employment candidates, I occasionally …

  • Teradata buys Aster Data

    Wow.  HP acquires Vertica and less than 3 weeks later, Teradata buys Aster Data!  2011 …

  • An interesting analysis of HP’s latest “run at BI superstardom”

    HP’s acquisition of analytical database management system (ADBMS) vendor Vertica made headlines when it was announced …

  • More about Kognitio Pablo

    Here is the official press release about Kognitio’s Pablo product: http://www.kognitio.com/next-big-thing-in-data-analytics-no-more-physical-cubes. There is also a …

  • Learning OLAP through the MDX query language

    There are a number of ways to learn about OLAP concepts.  I’m not referring to …

  • What is XMLA and how does it carry MDX?

    Several times recently, such as after delivering a TDWI local chapter meeting talk, I explained …

  • Data warehousing space activity continues…

    There seems to be a lot of action in the data warehousing space. Last year, …

  • ‘tis the season for predictions…

    On news feeds and podcasts over the last few weeks, there have been lots of …

  • An Excel PivotTable is not like a regular Excel Spreadsheet Table

    Contrary to folk wisdom, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, …

  • What about PowerPivot?

    At Simba, because we are in the business of MDX Providers that are typically accessed …

  • Should HP and SAP join forces, what about Microsoft?

    Last week, I commented on the post about HP giving up on BI (https://www.simba.com/blog/is-hp-really-giving-up-on-bi-and-analytics/).  This …

  • OData gaining traction

    It’s been interesting to watch the list of producers of live OData Services grow over …

  • Is HP really giving up on BI and Analytics?

    So, last week SAP goes into ramp up with HANA 1.0 and now I read …

  • How to Connect Excel to an Oracle Database

    “Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both …

  • SAP HANA now available – supports MDX and SQL

    SAP just announced that their High performance ANalytical Appliance (HANA) is now available.  HANA supports …

  • ODBC 3.8 Applications and Drivers

    Platform support for ODBC 3.8 has been available under Windows 7 (and Windows Server 2008 …

  • Avoid Spreadmarts by Hot-Connecting to Data Sources

    At Simba we often hear the term “spreadmart”.   This informal term, even defined on Wikipedia, …

  • MDX is MDX…, isn’t it?

    “The wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.”   You’d …

  • Teradata Business Intelligence Optimizer

    Matt Zenus and Carlos Bouloy presented on the Teradata Business Intelligence Optimizer (TBIO) last week …

  • Why MDX?

    In my last post, I mentioned “The wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.” Usually this is meant by the speaker in a pejorative sense, indicating perhaps a perceived unwillingness of some vendors to work within existing standards, and instead wishing to define their own standard for any number of reasons, such as avoiding patent and IP issues, wishing to establish market leadership, locking out competitors, etc.

    One good reason for introducing a new standard is efficiency. Most modern relational databases management systems are transactional databases. SQL is inherently transactional, making it ideal for OLTP databases. So, does that necessarily mean that if you have a database, you should access the data using SQL? Since you have a hammer, does everything look like a nail?

    OLTP databases often need to be able to write lots of data, quickly. But businesses later need to deeply analyze all that transactional data. For that, a copy is extracted from the OLTP database, transformed into a more optimal format, and loaded into a data warehouse or an OLAP database. Yes, you can still use SQL to look inside a data warehouse, but it’s harder to use SQL to find patterns, quickly aggregate across the whole dataset, or do comparisons such as a time series. You can grab a coffee while you wait for it to finish.

    In the mid-1990s, Microsoft introduced a new language for Multi-Dimensional eXpressions against an OLAP database, called MDX. It is a powerful but compact query language that knows and understand multi-dimensional databases/cubes. For example, if you want to know the sales of souvenir mittens at your retail outlet in Vancouver, BC during the month of February when the 2010 Olympics were held, you would write an MDX query that this:

    SELECT
    [Store].[Store Country].[Canada].[Vancouver] ON COLUMNS,
    [Product].[All Products].[Clothing].[Mittens] ON ROWS
    FROM [Sales]
    WHERE ([Measures].[Unit Sales], [Date].[2010].[February])

    However, if you wanted to write this in SQL, you’d need this cumbersome SQL query:

    SELECT SUM(Sales.[Unit Sales])
    FROM (Sales INNER JOIN Stores
    ON Sales.StoreID = Stores.StoreID)
    INNER JOIN Products
    ON Sales.ProductID = Products.ProductID
    WHERE Stores.StoreCity = ‘Vancouver’
    AND Products.ProductName = ‘Mittens’
    AND Sales.SaleDate BETWEEN ’01-02-2010′ AND ’28-02-2010′

    It becomes even more verbose to write an SQL expression that compares Feb 2010 sales to that of the previous month, or the previous year. In contrast, MDX makes it easy to write very short succinct queries that are more direct to read and understand, which in turn reduces errors. And you can write more general expressions like “prior period” comparisons, that at every level of drill-down in time hierarchy (e.g. day, month, quarter, year) show or compare to the prior unit of time at that level.

    I liken it to writing a program in assembler code versus in a high-level language programming language. You could do it, but why would you? This is not a perfect example, since assembler code is often faster than the high level language. However, in the SQL vs. MDX debate, it would be the MDX that is both easier to read and often faster since it expresses more clearly the goal of the query!

    In recent years, many BI client vendors (SAP Business Objects, Microsoft, Cognos, and others) allow connections using MDX. This is a great move as it allows more powerful and general queries, an opportunity for better performance (especially against a cube), and greater interoperability. The latter is particularly valuable in the modern enterprise composed of acquisitions and mergers, thus leading to multi-vendor BI challenges that need to be bridged.

  • Build, buy, or something in-between?

    It’s not the sort of question that usually comes up over hors d’œuvres, but given …

  • Inside information on SAP BW and HANA

    I blogged about SAP’s High Performance Analytical Appliance (HANA) yesterday and someone followed up and …

  • Hiding things in plain sight…

    It’s a good time to be making the switch from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows because …

  • Analytics with Big Data – a TDWI checklist

    Wayne Eckerson at TDWI wrote a nice overview and checklist about doing analytics on large …

  • Pivot Tables / OLAP are essential for Business Intelligence

    According to CIO.com, “Pivot tables are perhaps one of the most popular methods for analyzing …

  • Standard Hierarchies

    When I was in university, I had a professor who told the class, “The wonderful …

  • A new version of the MDX Provider for Oracle OLAP

    Since last year, Simba has partnered with Oracle to provide connectivity to the Oracle OLAP …

  • Oracle Exadata pipeline exceeds 1.5 billion dollars!

    Oracle announced their fiscal Q1 and according to Larry Ellison, their Exadata pipeline has grown …

  • Oracle Exadata at Openworld

    I am looking forward to OpenWorld next week because I am very curious what Larry …

  • Teradata’s product strategy

    Simba does a lot of work with Teradata, having recently partnered with Teradata on the …

  • Standards-based BI Connectivity

    One of the challenges in a world of large enterprises, especially those composed of acquisitions, …

  • TBIO – ROLAP on Teradata – smarter, faster, easier

    Teradata recently launched their TBIO (Teradata Business Intelligence Optimizer) product.  Martin Willcox from Teradata has a little …

  • Could Dell buy Aster Data?

    A few days ago, I commented on an article about Oracle’s shopping spree and someone …

  • Teradata supports MDX query language

    Well, it is now official, Teradata has launched their Teradata OLAP Connector product which allows …

  • Minding your bits…

    I note that Window’s transition from 32-bit to 64-bit has been an on-going saga for …

  • The case for a custom ODBC driver

    I was talking to a customer recently and they were telling me they have a very …

  • Windows XP lives on

    Interesting that Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 users can “downgrade” to Windows XP for …

  • EMC buys GreenPlum

    Interesting news yesterday about EMC’s acquisition of data warehouse appliance company GreenPlum.  GreenPlum had of …

  • More on SAP’s Sybase Acquisition

    SAP’s pending acquisition of Sybase for 6 billion dollars has a lot of people talking.  …

  • SAP acquires Sybase – BI Implications

    Boris Evelson had an interesting blog entry about the “BI Implications Of SAP-Sybase Deal”.  You …

  • Oracle Data Warehouse Strategic Update

    At the Oracle Collaborate conference last week, I attended a session presented by Ray Roccaforte …

  • Oracle Exadata V2 – Sun Oracle Database Machine

    We have had a number of customers try out our MDX Provider for Oracle OLAP …

  • Kognitio – row vs column?

    I was reading an interesting article by Stephen Swoyer at TDWI where he interviewed the …

  • The Kingdom of Excel

    Whoa!  At the Gartner BI Summit, they suggested we “Wave the white flag on using …

  • In-memory technologies

    In the database warehouse/BI/analytics space, there is a lot of talk about in-memory technology and …

  • Top BI Vendors

    Now that the Winter Olympics in Vancouver are over, I can focus more on work.  …

  • Tutorial on using Excel Pivot Tables with Oracle OLAP Option

    There are a lot of people who currently use the Excel Spreadsheet Add-in for Oracle …

  • Oracle and Sun – the new IBM of the 60’s?

    I was reading an interesting article by Larry Barrett about how Oracle’s series of acquisitions …

  • Oracle OLAP Newsletter – January 2010

    I just got the Oracle OLAP Newsletter for January 2010 and we got a nice …

  • Oracle Exadata

    Over the last year, we have been doing a fair bit of work with Oracle 11g …

  • XMLA for Oracle OLAP 11g

    Now that our MDX Provider for Oracle OLAP 11g is released, the team has been …

  • Smartphones and the Apple AppStore

    Jenna Wortham wrote an interesting article that Apple’s AppStore is changing the game with mobile software.  …

  • Teradata Partners Conference

    I found a nice blog by Larry Dignan on Teradata’s Partners Conference which is worth …

  • Interesting article I read about Google…

    Baseline magazine had an interesting article on Google entitled “How Google Works” http://www.baselinemag.com/c/a/Infrastructure/How-Google-Works-1/?kc=BLBLBEMNL11272009STR1.  This is …

  • Cool title… “Peace in Our OLAP Time”

    Mike Vizard at CTOEdge wrote a nice piece about what Simba has done for Oracle …

  • Oracle OpenWorld 2009 and MDX for Oracle 11g OLAP Option

    Oracle OpenWorld 2009 was quite busy for me.  We jointly with Oracle launched our MDX …

  • The new efficiency/normal according to Steve Ballmer

    I was reading Steve Ballmer’s latest email entitled “The New Efficiency” (http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/execmail/2009/09-29NewEfficiency.mspx) in which he basically …

  • SAP Improves Universe-Based Access To BW via MDX

    According to a blog posting by Thomas Zurek at SAP (http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/weblogs?blog=/pub/wlg/13566%3Fpage%3Dlast%26x-maxdepth%3D0), accessing BW via OLAP …