Q:  

I'm in the process of selecting client tools (DOLAP) for our Microsoft OLAP services-based data warehouse. Where can I find unbiased informational reviews on vendors other than the OLAP reports? We are looking for a Web-enabled solution.

A:  

Douglas Hackney's Answer: Unbiased reviews are really tough in this space. There's no source like a Road & Track or Car & Driver to turn to for real comparison tests, etc. Occasionally there will be a test in a trade weekly, but nothing comprehensive. If you have an analyst contract (Gartner, Meta, etc.), you should leverage them for the broad coverage (i.e. who is out there that fits our criteria), but we don't recommend making a purchase decision on an individual product based on that source. You're left with doing your own evaluations, leveraging the net forums, using some unbiased consulting input, adding all your sources up and taking your best shot.

We've got some MSFT OLAP Services projects running and have done the same searches you are setting out on. If you want to do it all native MSFT, you can pull it off for the OLAP portion (at least the 80/20) if your desktops are Office 2k. If not, you'll run into some printing issues with office web components.

The big gap with the MSFT approach is interactive reporting (which will cover the 80/20 of your information consumers' needs). MSFT doesn't have anything to cover this right now and it is a yawning chasm for them in the real world of meeting users' needs. We're covering interactive reporting with ASP pages at one site, but this requires significant developer time in an ongoing system, and we don't consider it particularly sustainable from that perspective. While you will be tempted to focus on thin client OLAP delivery because it is so sexy, you'll actually cover much more of your organization's needs with a well implemented thin-client interactive reporting implementation. OLAP is still of most use to analysts and that's too small of a user base to be politically sustainable. Sid Adelman's Answer: Pieter Mimno is the leading expert on data warehouse tools. He can be reached at pmimno@cove.com.

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