The company aims to release in the first half of next year a series of new data warehousing and online analytical processing (OLAP) tools meant to strengthen its database business in what company executives said is one of the few high growth areas left for database makers.
The company plans to ship a new DB2 OLAP Server database and a new release of its Visual Warehouse bundle by mid-year, said Janet Perna, general manager of database management for IBM's software solutions division. Both products work with IBM's recently released DB2 Universal Database Server.
Online analytical processing, or OLAP, is a process in which users can quickly analyze shared corporate data organized on multiple dimensions, not just the two-dimensional horizontal and vertical categories of simple spreadsheets. That allows data to be viewed, for example, as "sales by region" or "sales by quarter, by sales representative, by product line, by region," for instance.
The DB2 OLAP package consists of Arbor Software's Essbase OLAP server, reworked to run atop IBM's DB2 relational database.
Visual Warehouse includes DB2 for Windows NT; Distributed Database Connection Services for Windows NT for managing multiple DB2 databases; a database cataloging tool called DataGuide; a single-user license for Lotus Approach to produce queries and charts based on DB2 data; and Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) drivers for Informix Software, Oracle, Sybase, and Microsoft SQL Server databases.
Perna said that despite a slowdown in the sales of database software for online transaction processing (OLTP) applications, the market for so-called business intelligence tools is growing at a steady clip.
"The high growth market through the end of the millennium is business intelligence," Perna said. "Analysts see 6 percent compound growth for OLTP through the year 2000. But they predict more than 40 percent growth for business intelligence applications. So that's the game plan. Get DB2 out, and then start to build on that to attack the high growth areas."
Last week, Oracle, the largest database software provider, reported much lower than expected growth in its database server sales, leading many analysts to conclude that a long-rumored slowdown in the database software market has arrived.