Occasionally the notion arises that decision support system (DSS) processing should be real time. Real time means that response time should be in the three-to-five-second range from the moment that a query is formulated and initiated in the processor. The rationale for real-time processing is that with good response time, the decision-maker can make better decisions. In many regards, this is akin to the notion that if we made online transactional processing (OLTP) happen, why can't there be real-time DSS?

OLTP is not like DSS. The queries in OLTP processing are predetermined and are not heuristic or intuitive at all. The queries must be carefully formulated and programmed before the user ever gets to execute a query. In OLTP, the data is designed for optimal passage through the system. As a result, in OLTP each query accesses only a few units of data. All of this structure is needed in order for the OLTP system to provide fast and consistent response time. In order to get fast and consistent response time, the requirements for OLTP processing must be known before any processing occurs, and the system needs to be finely tuned and designed.

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