Oracle OLAP Supports MDX (Sort Of…)

November 20th, 2008 by

Dan Vlamis broke the news yesterday that Simba Technologies will be showing off their “Native Microsoft Excel 2007 Connectivity for Oracle OLAP” solution at the upcoming BIWA SIG in December. From looking at Dan’s blog posting and the Simba Technologies press release, the product uses an MDX 2005 to Oracle OLAP bridge that the company have developed in order to offer the same pivot table support that Microsoft Excel 2007 offers for Microsoft Analysis Services for Oracle OLAP customers.

This is of course pretty significant, as Oracle have been more or less the only major OLAP vendor to not support MDX as a query language, at least in their in-database OLAP product (Essbase of course supports MDX for Aggregate Storage Option cubes). The rumour about Oracle extending MDX support to Oracle OLAP has been circulating the various conferences for the past year or so, I’d heard that it might be through a third-party spreadsheet add-in rather than direct support in the database and obviously this is it.

Of course this falls short of direct support for MDX, I guess with Oracle’s clear backing of SQL as their preferred OLAP query language that would have been a step too far, but this does give customers who prefer Excel as their OLAP query tool (i.e. most of them) and want to create calculations and selections in MDX the ability to choose Oracle OLAP, with all it’s clear security, scalability and managability benefits, rather than having to use a separate OLAP server. I don’t know what pricing is like, and how well the bridge performs, but it’s certainly interesting and gives Oracle OLAP 11g customers a means to analyze their cubes in a proper multi-dimensional environment, at least until Answers+ arrives.

More details at the Vlamis blog and on the Simba Technologies website.


  1. Dan Vlamis Says:

    Thanks for mentioning the news, Mark. This is pretty interesting. Folks coming to BIWA Summit (including Rittman Mead’s Peter Scott I believe) will be able to see this firsthand. As you might guess, we’re pretty excited about being able to use this on our customer engagements.

  2. Venkatakrishnan J Says:

    Thanks for sharing this Mark & Dan. On a side note though, MDX is supported on ASO as well as BSO Essbase cubes. One thing i am pretty sure of is the fact that MDX is not going away since BI EE uses MDX for accessing Essbase. BI EE 11g is supposed to be even better wherein the UI would actually be MDX aware. In the current release, though the BI Server fires MDX queries, quite a bit of consulting work is needed to actually make it perform against Essbase data sources. This is due to the fact that reports need to be created with a MDX query in mind. But 11g is supposed to reduce that gap. A white paper that i am writing on this topic should hopefully be out by January.

  3. Chris Webb Says:

    Great news! I’m looking forward to writing my first MDX query on Oracle…

  4. Henry Says:

    In thinking about OBIEE access to MSAS (many want to do this) my understanding is that XMLA is required. XMLA operates via Web Services, so who maintains the provider Web Services? Does the provider have to be IIS or windows? And could OBIEE provide Active Directory Single Sign On (SSO) down to the MSAS cube level at run time/query time?

    Much thanks,


  5. Nasar Ali-Khan Says:

    Bud Endress (from Oracle OLAP Development) did a demo for MDX for 11gOLAP. Its at Click on the product demo on the left side.

    The demo is for Excel only. But this MDX provider for 11gOLAP is a generic MDX/ODBO provider. In theory, it should work with any application.

    I heard that the plan is to support as many applications as possible in the future.

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