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Data analysis tools for the Web

IBM and Arbor Software announce a development agreement that will result in a new data analysis server package called IBM DB2 OLAP server.

IBM (IBM) and Arbor Software are teaming up to bring data analysis tools to the Web.

The companies today announced a development agreement that will result in a new data analysis server package called IBM DB2 OLAP 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."

The DB2 OLAP package consists of Arbor's Essbase OLAP server, reworked to run atop IBM's DB2 relational database, according to Brant Davison, program manager for data management solutions at IBM.

Essbase, as sold by Arbor, uses a specialized, proprietary, multidimensional database that allows users to analyze a limited amount of data, which must be extracted from production databases. DB2 OLAP will allow companies to directly analyze data stored in their production applications, such as credit card processing, order entry, and other systems based on DB2.

IBM is also using Essbase's existing API (application programming interface), which means all third-party add-on tools, such as additional graphing, charting, and analysis tools, will also work with DB2 OLAP.

DB2 OLAP server will also be accessible over intranets or the Internet via Web browsers, Davison said.

The server will enter beta testing around April or May, Davison added, and is slated to ship this fall. The initial version will run on Windows NT-, OS/2-, and MVS-based servers and will tie to DB2 databases running on the same operating systems. A later release will add support for Unix and IBM's AS/400 system.

Final pricing has not been determined, but Davison said the product will most likely be priced identically to Arbor's Essbase, which sells for $37,000 per server.