Sometimes I get the feeling we are all ostriches, burying our heads in the data so we can hide from the approaching information age. Maybe thinking "database" limits our potential to design the "distributed information architectures" that our organizations need to remain competitive. Perhaps creating a broadly distributed information architecture requires substantially more than multi-point access to reorganized data. We all talk about wanting to enter the information age, so isn't it time to replace our data-based dependency with technology designed to uniquely represent constructs of information.

We may lump all computing under the broad title of "information systems;" but, in truth, most computing to date has been "data processing" ­ the evolution of which has been facilitated by the evolution of both computing platforms and data structures. Process-driven transaction systems drove the ascendance of the large, centralized mainframe supporting large flat files. Departmental computing (largely OLTP) gave birth to relationally powered client/server architectures. Now, the demands of analytical processing drive us toward a highly networked model ­ fully distributed architectures and Internet. So what is the appropriate parallel evolution in "data structure" for OLAP?

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