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Alternatives in data digging

Two software firms outline alternative ways to bring data-mining results to corporate desktops.

Two software firms have outlined alternative ways to bring data-mining results to corporate desktops.

Cognos (COGNF) today showcased its PowerPlay as the "universal" online analytical processing client, using "distributed OLAP" as the means to deploy data-mining capabilities to corporate workers.

Separately, Brio Technology began shipping a family of new products that use corporate intranets to deliver data warehouse analyses to appropriate employees.

Online analytical processing is the technology behind data-mining, 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."

Cognos's distributed OLAP approach, built on its PowerPlay client software, gives the desktop PC the full power of an OLAP database engine.

Cognos displayed PowerPlay interacting with Arbor's Essbase, Oracle's Express, and Informix's MetaCube. Pilot Software also announced that it will link its LightShip server to PowerPlay, and Hyperion Software said the same ability will soon be available for Hyperion OLAP.

"Until now, no single vendor could meet the needs of all potential OLAP users in an organization," said Alan Rottenberg, Cognos senior vice president. "PowerPlay is the 'universal' OLAP client, offering access to all major OLAP servers."

Brio's approach is to distribute results of data-mining queries to Web browsers as plug-ins. Brio.quickview shows a static table of results, while brio.insight allows users to manipulate the data to make derivative reports.

In Brio's system, requests for information are submitted by a manager to brio.query.server, which executes the request to the data warehouse and distributes results to desktop users who have brio.quickview or brio.insight plug-ins.

"We are now shipping an enterprise solution to let users access the data warehouse via the World Wide Web," Brio product manager Kevin Lawrence said. He added that letting users generate queries from their Web browsers would put too much strain on the network and data warehouse servers, although that capability could be added as performance improves.