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February 25, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 1:00pm

IBM TURNS TO ARBOR FOR OLAP; PUTS IT UP ON RDBMS

By CBR Staff Writer

Arbor Software Corp the in-form developer of data analysis tools based in Sunnyvale, California-has landed the big one. Not only will IBM Corp be marketing Arbor’s Essbase OLAP on-line analytical processing server for use by its 11,000-odd corporate DB2 customers, but it has also lent the DB2 name to a version of Arbor’s OLAP tools which the two have uncoupled from Essbase’s proprietary multidimensional database and will sell under the name DB2 OLAP server for use upon multiple relational databases beginning in October. In fact there will be no DB2 code in the new add-on server product which for the first time enables DB2, Oracle, Informix and Sybase or other relational tables rather than multidimensional arrays to be used as the primary data store for Essbase applications and the 30-odd third party tools that support them. Previously relational data had to be sucked up into the Essbase multidimensional database before OLAP tools could analyze the information for use in sales analysis, budgeting, forecasting or other tasks. Essbase has supported access to DB2 relational data stores under IBM’s Information Warehouse Solution program since October 1995. Arbor says DB2 OLAP will enable customers to analyze data stores far larger than those the Essbase database can currently support but expects Essbase and DB2 OLAP to be used alongside each other to support different types of applications. OLAP is the new term for what used to be called EIS, executive information systems, and is one of the industry’s hottest markets. OLAP tools enable users to analyze huge amounts of data, commonly stored in data warehouses, from many viewpoints, often referred to as slice and dice and drill down functionality. IBM thinks the market for data warehouse access software could be worth $5bn by the end of the century. Both companies will sell DB2 OLAP, which is being targeted competitively against Oracle Corp and Microsoft Corp OLAP offerings. IBM is using DB2 as a product brand for all of its data storage and access software whether it incorporates the DB2 database or not. Arbor dismisses Oracle’s Express OLAP offering as a 25-year-old mainframe programming language. Sybase Inc doesn’t currently offer a product in the OLAP space while Informix Software Inc’s MetaCube will run only against its Universal Server database when it ships later this year. The two companies are also hoping to stymie the best efforts of a new breed of so-called ROLAP relational OLAP tool vendors which are peddling low-priced OLAP-style tools written in the standard SQL data access language for with against relational databases. Arbor claims ROLAP is slow and inefficient and that SQL simply can’t support the kinds of calculations and analysis functions required for OLAP. Although each OLAP tool currently uses its own proprietary language to access data, Arbor points to an industry body called the OLAP council which is a now offering a common API for reading data and is working on others. Arbor will reportedly collect a royalty of between 20% and 30% of the price of every DB2 OLAP server license sold. First Call’s average of analysts’ estimates forecasts Arbor will earn some $5.5m on sales of around $47m in its fiscal 1997 to the end of March – $8.6m on sales of $76m in 1998.

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