My April column discussed the direction that DBMS vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and Oracle are taking toward integrating business intelligence features into their database products. I began the discussion by reviewing ETL in the database. I'll continue the discussion by reviewing the online analytical processing (OLAP) marketplace and looking at what the DBMS vendors are doing in the area of OLAP. My next column will complete this three-part review by looking at the data mining capabilities of DBMS products.

OLAP has always been a controversial topic. Experts have argued for years about the pros and cons of the various approaches to storing and processing dimensional data and about which approach is the best to use for any given application. Of the many approaches to OLAP, four main options dominate (see Figure 1).

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