Web-based OLAP Definition

OLAP is a Business Intelligence technology designed to carry out analysis and draw up reports based on data available in a multidimensional view. OLAP is suitable for businesses with multiple departments and points on sales. Every location collects a transactional database which is afterward transferred to an OLAP system through ETL tools (Extract -> Transform -> Load). The system already presents data in a readable format to an end-user. A centralized data warehouse encompasses all data produced and received by a business enabling a holistic business view and investigation. Along with Data Mining techniques, OLAP forms a splendid Business Intelligence solution.
As for a Web-based OLAP client, its initial function is to produce replies to MDX requests by the server where the very OLAP database is stored. The application is maintained, supported, and updated by a provider in a central spot of a back-end server whereas end-users for their part don’t have to spend time on taking care of the software’s state. Web-based OLAP is known for being lightweight and easy to download on one machine for the exploitation of numerous users. Furthermore, it can be accessed from other devices rather than merely a computer: a laptop, a tablet, a mobile phone, etc. will be suitable for the application to be operated.

Server-centric OLAP Model

Web-based OLAP front-end software creates requests to the back-end - the server side - which in its turn is in charge of composing conforming MDX queries to be performed against an OLAP database. The queries are responded by the results to the front-end component where they are processed through HTML5 or CSS3 technologies. A back-end component has to be configured only once after which multiple users are able to receive access to the functions of the OLAP system via an internet browser. This feature of a Web-based OLAP client plays a significant role while generating a profitable business environment.

HTML5 and Javascript

As well as any web application, Web-based OLAP needs a single server component to be set up on a server that stores all the data which the users are enabled to request for. Microsoft environment and MS technologies require the installation of a web application component which will exploit server-side web technologies, such as ASP.net, in order to execute all the interplay between a browser and SQL Server Analysis Service. As a result, the system provides a user with an HTML or a Javascript code to be utilized by an internet browser. A server-side component can be set up on the same server along with SQL Server Analysis Services or on another one. It as well can be installed on the same computer along with Internet Information Services and SQL Server Analysis Services in order to run the tests and evaluate the whole system operation. It is also possible to use a web server and a back-end component to refine the necessary access rights and create a range of users who are allowed to access the data.

OLAP in HTML5 and Javascript

Web-based OLAP Architecture

There are several variations of a Web-based OLAP architecture. For instance, there is such an architecture as an end-to-end architecture which supports a Javascript OLAP Client. It exploits the resources and capacity of an OLAP server to solve the problems connected to the initial prototype. In this architecture variation, a thin browser (a browser of a user’s personal computer) is just an interface intended to represent what the back-end server transfers. Some of the application versions imply that the browser client interacts straight with the OLAP server via the XMLA interface with no back-end program server. The entities in the whole system exchange messages over an HTTP transport layer. Such an architecture takes advantage of HTTP aspects such as security enforcement and caching capabilities and modes.

OLAP Operations

While calculating and arranging an OLAP cube architecture, not all the aspects of future analysis can be foreseen. The requirements for the use differ according to the technical and business environment which is going to adopt the solution. Thereby there OLAP operations enabling end-users to manage business data in a suitable and convenient way for them. Furthermore, some features necessary for reporting and analysis are not embedded in the OLAP cube but can be added on demand. Some of the most important OLAP tools are drag-and-drop, drill-through, sorting, pivot, slice-and-dice, and others.
A drag-and-drop analysis is a function to replace dimension levels, hierarchies, measures and other cube elements to a needed area while carrying out multidimensional analysis.
End-users are likewise enabled to set calculated measures which present a function letting generate new measures connected to the defined ones in the cube. The new measures can be shared with other teammates.
Named sets are one more feature which is quite difficult to foresee during the production period and they can also be customized for the end-user. They can be on selecting specified dimension members or composing an expression which can get back the members based on a chosen cube condition.

OLAP Operations

Accessibility

Web-based OLAP is light and easy to download and install on one computer though numerous users get an opportunity to gain access to the application. This brings value to one’s business in general as there is no need to install the program on multiple machines and spend time and funds on maintenance and support. The high performance of the solution is attributable to today’s enhanced Javascript engines which are exploited by all current internet browsers. If the OLAP technology is available on the web regardless of the scale - intranet or internet, it creates an opportunity to share information and collaborate on the same content. Due to web-based OLAP, teams and departments are free to analyze ongoing real-time business situations, estimate KPIs, visualize complex data, and receive a new vision of issues. The users are able to comment on analysis and reports, suggest corrections and ideas. If necessary, comments can be sent as emails.
Although in order to keep the data safe and secured the user who creates a report has to share the access rights with those who he/she wants to see the information. Thereby only the users with a permission can open the report, make changes there, comment on it, etc.
The OLAP technology based on HTML5/CSS3/Javascript offers a great variety of implementation features from setting flexibility to selecting a platform. The data can be accessed from any device with the internet connection from any place. It is a brilliant opportunity to see significant KPIs, graphs or reports which doesn’t require additional time for the access. Nowadays Business Intelligence solutions are easily adaptable to mobile browsers reusing the main aspects of a standard computer browser.
The users may export and import PDF, Excel files, print them, email links to the documents and comment on tasks just with a mobile phone in their hands which significantly improves general performance of an organization. A mobile device even lets working with an OLAP cube considering operations: it is possible to slice-and-dice, drill-down, drill-through the cube structure while not being obligatorily present at a working place.

Olap accessibility

Data Visualization

As well as desktop OLAP, web-based OLAP offers a range of opportunities for the analysis and report visualization. The application delivers a plenty of visual features including chart, pie charts, graphs, heat maps, and others alleviating complicated reports composing and reading. It is possible to toggle between a chart and a grid view which differently display data. A chart view is intended to show the data with the help of more than 15 chart types and various visual options. After a chart type being chosen, it is possible to pick an option to be executed. Those options are the OLAP operations mentioned above in this article: drill-through, drill-down, slice-and-dice, sort, pivot, etc. Visualized data can also be exported to a PDF format and shared with colleagues.
Moreover, there is also an opportunity to set dashboards which are extremely popular with managers and executives thanks to the fact that the dashboards at a glance let users see crucial points of a report. Due to this OLAP feature, it is highly convenient to get aware of essential business aspects such as purposes, trends, metrics, and others. Colors, possible to be customized, attract attention and explain the whole picture exempting from reading loads of text. A user can utilize an existing report and MDX queries to generate a dashboard afterward to express meaningful insights in a visual format. The data in the dashboard may also be drilled-down or drilled-through or a user, if necessary, may leave this format of visualization and get back to the whole report.

Olap Data Visualization

Web-based OLAP Benefits

There are a lot of reasons why considering web-based OLAP as the main reporting tool of an organization. Owing to the development of web browsers’ engine, there is a high splash in the quality of Business Intelligence solutions including web-based OLAP. Its scalability, usability, visualization options, and performance adapt to ever-changing business environment making a great contribution to the marketing environment. HTML5 standards today implemented in almost all browsers provide BI reliability and its permanent enhancement. Javascript engines in their turn deliver strong performance in running the end Javascript client code. It implies that the end-users don’t need to wait for the actions/queries to be executed as the back-end server is commonly of high capacity and is itself in charge of the whole operation. Likewise, all the maintenance, support, upgrades, and issues fixing are concerns of a provider but not an end-user’s ones.

This way we can illustrate web-best OLAP main advantages:

  • A big variety of OLAP general functional opportunities
  • The speed of MDX queries execution
  • User friendliness of data visualization
  • An opportunity to share the access to the data
  • No need to maintain and support the software

Web-based OLAP Benefits

Web-based OLAP Problems

Despite highly developed modern technologies, some of the web-based OLAP clients sometimes lack flexibility as the solution actually had appeared before Javascript engines were implemented in all browsers. The main purpose of the application is to perform the results computed by the back-end server and if its capacity is lower than required, end-users may sometimes suffer from it. Nonetheless, now it is a very rare problem which is almost never met.
Additionally, it is a must to remember that since the data is stored on a hosted server its security and integrity are under the control of the solution vendor. The users will not be able to affect the program if there are power outages and hackers’ attacks on the provider’s side. Therefore it is of essential importance to select an application vendor and to carefully get to know the service level agreement provided by them.

Conclusion

The analysis, visualization options, complex reports, forecasts, what-if scenarios, and a great diversity of other OLAP functional opportunities are available faster with a web-based OLAP client. Online operating within departments and teams without having to install the solution on many computers is a way out of common business aspects such as time and money. The opportunity to share the access to files and to collaborate on projects accelerates business management speed and quality. Web-based OLAP will appeal to employees thanks to its ease of use and promptness. Significant data will always be at fingertips to explore and discover vital analytical insights.

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