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Digital Gains Flexible Analysis Platform with Arbor Essbase

Published
  • July 01 1998, 1:00am EDT

PLATFORMS: The Arbor Essbase cubes reside on a combination of Digital ALPHA and Intel servers running Windows NT. The enterprise-wide clients are predominantly Windows '95.

BACKGROUND: Digital Equipment Corporation has responded to customer demand for open, client/server-based systems with a wide range of advanced networking products and services. Digital's technologies operate across multiple environments and provide the foundation for Web-based, enterprise-wide systems at many of the world's largest corporations.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Terabytes of financial and sales data reside within hundreds of relational databases, with information being fed weekly into an enterprise data warehouse. Prior to deploying Arbor Essbase, a handful of employees accessed the data warehouse and relational databases to analyze information and generate reports for executives. Analysts could not drill down into the data, and evaluating data from multiple perspectives was impossible. The enterprise-wide data warehouse, which includes the Arbor Essbase data marts, delivers critical, multidimensional analysis capabilities to our global audience. An easy-to-use front end allows thousands of employees to regularly access the data marts to evaluate product sales by geographic areas, develop corporate and divisional budgets or devise long-range plans and strategies.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Approximately 60 percent of the 2,300 employees using Arbor Essbase access it via our corporate intranet--with easy-to-use templates created with Microsoft Excel and Microsoft VisualBasic. These employees rely on the system to perform ad hoc analyses and generate high-level reports. Most financial analysts and other "power" users access Arbor Essbase via the WAN for in- depth analysis, budgeting, long-range planning and forecasting. The multi-user read/write capabilities of Arbor Essbase are particularly important for budgeting applications because employees enter timely, accurate figures directly into the system and share that information instantly with staff worldwide.

STRENGTHS: Arbor Essbase gives us the flexibility to tailor OLAP applications to the needs and abilities of users without sacrificing power and usability. Arbor Essbase OLAP Server 5, the latest version of the software, simplifies system management and enhances scalability. The dynamic calculation feature significantly reduces the time to load and calculate large data marts. Partitioning features allow us to separate applications by fiscal years, operating units and other criteria. The smaller, partitioned cubes streamline production management and make more information available in shorter time frames without degrading performance.

WEAKNESSES: With Arbor Essbase 4.1.2, loading and calculating large data marts could take 24 hours or longer. The data cubes were inaccessible during this time--limiting the frequency and quantity of data loads. Arbor Essbase 5, however, has helped us speed the time to load and calculate large data marts by 500 percent--from one day to less than five hours.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Our goal was to deploy a powerful, flexible reporting and analysis platform that was complementary to our data warehouse reporting solutions. We needed to provide a more efficient, productive reporting and analysis solution that enabled our analysts to perform real-time, sophisticated ad hoc queries.

DELIVERABLES: An integrated report library also functions as part of each template. The template functionality enables users to design reports and save them to the library. Arbor Essbase automatically handles the calculations and production of completed reports.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Arbor's support and sales staff is very responsive to our needs. Support options include phone support, on-line technical tips, support news and a Web-based support system for technical information.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is thorough and easy to understand.

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