Oracle OLAP Supports MDX (Sort Of...)

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.

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