Microsoft is about to revolutionise the database market, according to a leading industry guru. World-renowned OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) expert Nigel Pendse foresees radical changes in the market and a squeeze on larger vendors such as Oracle when Microsoft brings out its Plato OLAP engine next month. Yesterday, Pendse published the first review of the new Microsoft OLAP engine, which will be an integrated part of the forthcoming SQL Server 7.0, as part of Business Intelligence's OLAP Report (www.olapreport.com). "(SQL Server 7.0) costs peanuts," commented Pendse, "compared to high end solutions like Oracle Express." A current 10-user licence of SQL Server 6.5 costs #1,200, while a 10-user licence of Oracle Express is over #100,000. "When Microsoft is selling a good product at next to nothing, who will buy more expensive software?" Pendse asked. Despite being some 90% cheaper than its competitors, the Microsoft OLAP engine is not a low end solution, according to Pendse. It supports Multi-dimensional OLAP ( MOLAP), Relational OLAP (ROLAP) and hybrid OLAP. Pendse was also impressed by the way Microsoft's OLAP engine handles the "database explosion." In order to give a fast response to database queries, manufacturers have tended to recalculate every possible query, which makes the database explode in size. However, Pendse said that Microsoft has taken a "very clever" alternative approach to avoid this. Another factor in Microsoft's favour is the OLAP application programming interface, which Pendse believes will gain wide industry acceptance. "Microsoft knows about APIs," he explained. Pendse expects software companies like Cognos to build new business intelligence client tools which exploit the Microsoft OLAP engine directly. The Microsoft OLAP engine can also be accessed from other applications. For instance, Pendse said, the next version of Excel will support Pivot tables that take their data directly from the Microsoft OLAP engine. According to sources at Microsoft, the first beta version of SQL Server 7.0 is expected at the start of February. This will include the Microsoft OLAP engine.
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