OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) is a type of system that allows workers to quickly and flexibly manipulate operational data, using familiar business terms, in order to provide analytical insight.
Normal relational databases store data in two-dimensional tables and analytical queries against them are normally very slow. OLAP requires specialized database structures for storing multi-dimensional data optimally. Data in a multi-dimensional database is stored as business people views it, allowing them to slice and dice the data to answer business questions. When designed correctly, an OLAP database will provide must faster response times for analytical queries.
Note: Oracle likes using the term "Business Intelligence" instead of OLAP.
The term OLAP (On-Line Analytical Processing) was first used by E.F. Codd in 1993. It refers to a type of application that allows a user to interactively analyze data. An OLAP system is often contrasted with an OLTP (On-Line Transaction Processing) system that focuses on processing orders, invoices or general ledger transactions. OLAP applications were previously called Decision Support Systems.
 Oracle's OLAP products
- Sales Analyzer (OSA) - analyze sales, marketing and other corporate data
- Sales Analyzer Client
- Sales Brief Client
- Financial Analyzer (OFA) - financial reporting, analysis, budgeting, and planning
- Financial Analyzer Client
- Financial Controller
- Financial Controller Client
- Data Entry Client
- Oracle Data Warehouse Builder
- Oracle Discoverer - End-user ROLAP query tool
 Also see
- Oracle OLAP - Oracle's OLAP database option
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