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Mike van der Velden
Vancouver, BC
Technical Product Manager, Analytics
Recent Activity
Last week, Dan Vlamis gave a presentation at the BIWA Virtual Summit on how to visualize Oracle OLAP data with multiple BI and Analytic clients, including Microsoft Excel, Arcplan, and Deltamaster. As noted, all this connectivity is made possible by... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2012 at Connect – a Simba Technologies Blog
On August 15th, one of the presentations at the first ever BIWA Virtual Summit will highlight how Simba's MDX Provider for Oracle OLAP helps business people analyze and visualize data in their Oracle OLAP cubes. Organized by the Oracle Business... Continue reading
Microsoft has made many improvements to the BI features of Excel with its most recent release, Excel 2010. There are a lot of people using these new features to create very interesting dashboards with Excel 2010. One of the new... Continue reading
This year's premier Oracle Users Group conference, Collaborate 11, just ended in Orlando, and I was lucky enough to have attended and present on behalf of Simba. It was a great show as always. One of the things that makes... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2011 at Connect – a Simba Technologies Blog
Often when I talk to people about using the BI reporting features of Excel, particularly the new features that are part of Excel 2010, the initial reaction is one of trepidation and concern. To them, Excel = Spreadmarts. Spreadmarts are... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2011 at Connect – a Simba Technologies Blog
One of the great things about the Simba MDX Provider for Oracle OLAP is that the power of ad hoc query and analysis is now in the hands of the end user. Gone are the days where you need to... Continue reading
Most users of Simba’s MDX Provider for Oracle OLAP are end users, i.e. BI analysts that use Microsoft Excel PivotTables to connect to an Oracle OLAP cube to do ad hoc queries and analysis. While they care what is in... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2011 at Connect – a Simba Technologies Blog
Last week, two of my Simba colleagues and I had the opportunity to attend an Oracle OLAP workshop for Oracle partners. This workshop was very similar to the OLAP Essentials course offered by Oracle University. Each of the three of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2011 at Connect – a Simba Technologies Blog
Contrary to folk wisdom, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s not always a duck! Most people use Simba’s MDX Provider for Oracle OLAP to create an Excel PivotTable to summarize and analyze data in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2010 at Connect – a Simba Technologies Blog
“Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.” - Shrek, 2001 Standards have layers too. Sometimes they can be as easy to get to work together without crying as to peel... Continue reading
“The wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.” You’d think that if everyone at least agreed to use the same standard, everything would be copacetic and “just work,” right? If you really thought that,... Continue reading
Mike van der Velden added a favorite at Connect – a Simba Technologies Blog
Nov 2, 2010
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 ROWSFROM [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 StoresON Sales.StoreID = Stores.StoreID)INNER JOIN ProductsON Sales.ProductID = Products.ProductIDWHERE 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. Continue reading
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When I was in university, I had a professor who told the class, "The wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from." It seems especially true in the software industry. As a product manager, one... Continue reading
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Sep 27, 2010