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Oracle OLAP tools embrace Web

Revamped Web versions of Oracle's Express data analysis tools are set for release next week.

Oracle (ORCL) is set to release revamped Web versions of its Express data analysis tools next week.

The company will debut Express Server 6.0.1, a multidimensional database and online analytical processing (OLAP) server; Financial Analyzer 6.0, a client-based analysis and reporting tool; Sales Analyzer 1.6, a Web client to the Express Server; Express Objects 2.0.4, a development tool; and Express Analyzer 2.0.4, an ad hoc query tool package, according to David Menninger, senior director for Express product marketing at Oracle.

The new version of Express Server also packs a 30 percent performance boost, said Menninger.

Most of the improvements to the Express line will come on the client side, however. Both Sales Analyzer and Financial Analyzer have been slimmed down to run on less memory. Both tools also now include a 32-bit add-in for Microsoft Excel that lets users perform OLAP calculations though their existing spreadsheets.

OLAP add-ins for spreadsheets, first popularized by Arbor Software, have won praise from users for their ease of use. They now are being adopted by most OLAP tool makers.

Sales Analyzer also includes a Web client that lets users publish OLAP analyses to intranet servers.

OLAP tools let users quickly analyze shared corporate data organized in 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."

Menninger also drew a road map for Oracle's future OLAP tools. Future versions of the client software, now in the planning stages, will support Java Beans as well as Java and Basic scripting, he said. On the server side, Oracle plans additional analysis and management tools, as well as further integration into the Oracle database kernel.

The Express tools are now shipping. Sales Analyzer and Financial Analyzer are priced from $5,000. Express Server is priced at $3,995 per user and runs on Windows NT. Unix versions are slated for shipment by September, said Menninger. Express Objects costs $3,995; Express Analyzer is priced at $595.