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Comparison of Business Intelligence Strategies between SQL and Oracle

By Dinesh Priyankara,

Recently one of our business clients wanted to have a Business Intelligence System for his company. Because of availability of many BI platforms, he needed to do a comparison between MS SQL Server 2000 and Oracle 9i BI platforms. So, I surfed on various web sites on read many white papers, and ended up with this document.

Hope this will be useful for you too.

Business Intelligence Requirements

  • Data warehouse databases: platform should support both relational and multidimensional data warehousing databases.

  • OLAP (Online Analytical Processing): This is the most widely used component to Analysis. Platform should provide OLAP support within the databases, OLAP functionalities, interfaces to OLAP functionalities, and OLAP build and manage capabilities.

  • Data Mining: platform should include data mining functionalities that offers range of algorithms that can operate on data.

  • Interfaces: platform should provide interfaces to data warehouse databases, OLAP, and data mining.

  • Build and Manage capabilities: platform should support to build and manage data warehouses in their data warehouse databases like implementation of data warehouse models, the extraction, movement, transformation.

The Leadership

  • Microsoft: Microsoft is quantitatively the OLAP leader and its BI platform is the equal of any other leaders such as Hyperion, IBM, and Oracle. And the pricing and packaging advantages that demonstrated with OLAP in SQL 2000 is significant. As a result, Microsoft BI platform delivers value that is not approached by the platforms of other leaders

  • Oracle: Oracle offers a more technologically consistent BI platform by delivering both OLAP and relational capabilities in its database. But it's OLAP implementation has not been widely adopted by tools and application suppliers, and therefore has not yet achieved significant market share.

Build and Manage Capabilities

Microsoft:
  • Toolsets: Analysis Manager provides comprehensive relational and OLAP build and manage capabilities.
  • Extraction data sources: MS SQL Server, Oracle, ODBC, Files, Access 2000, Excel 2000, MS Visual FoxPro, dBase, Paradox, MS Exchange Server and MS Active Directory.
Oracle:
  • Toolsets: Oracle 9i Warehouse Builder provides relational build and manage capabilities. Oracle Enterprise Manager provides OLAP build and manage capabilities.

  • Extraction data sources: IBM DB2, Informix, MS SQL Server, Sybase, Oracle, ODBC, Flat Files.

Packaging and Pricing

  • Microsoft: Entire BI platform for $19,999 (SQL Server Enterprise Edition - per processor license)
  • Oracle: Fee of $40,000 per processor is just charged for Enterprise Edition of relational database. Oracle 9i OLAP and Data Mining are separately packaged and are priced at $20,000 and $20,000 consecutively per processor. And Warehouse Builder is priced $5,000 per named user. As a result entire Oracle BI platform is priced at about $85,000.

OLAP Interfaces

Microsoft: 
  • MDX (Multi Dimensional Expression): This is Microsoft native OLAP interface and is an acronym for Multidimensional Expression. In many ways, this is very similar to Structured Query Language (SQL), but not an extension of SQL language. MDX provides Data Definition Language (DDL) syntax for managing data structures.

  • DSO (Decision Support Objects): This library supplies a hierarchical object model for use with any development environment that can support Common Object Model (COM) objects and interfaces such as MS Visual C++, MS Visual Basic. Its objects encapsulate server platform, SQL Server databases, MDX functions, OLAP data structures, Data Mining models and user roles.

  • Pivot Table Service: This is client-based OLE DB provider for Analysis Service OLAP and Data Mining functionalities. This is powerful but heavy client interface.

  • XML for Analysis: This is a Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)-based XML API that has been designed by Microsoft for accessing SQL Server Analysis Service data and functionality from the web client applications. This makes the SQL Server 2000 BI platform is the first database to offer powerful data analysis over the web. And this allows application developers to provide analytic capabilities to any client on any device or platform, using any programming language.

Oracle:
  • OLAP DML: This is the native interface to Oracle 9i data and analytic functions. Through OLAP DML, application can access, query, navigate, and manipulate multidimensional data as well as perform analytic functions.

  • Java OLAP API: Application can connect to multidimensional data and can perform navigation, selection and analysis functions but not all functions. For a example, Java application must execute OLAP DML command when the functionality is not available.

  • SQL and PL/SQL: By using predefined PL/SQL packages that access OLAP command directly or OLAP multidimensional views or accessing table functions directly, OLAP data and functionalities can be accessed.

Data Mining Interfaces

Microsoft:
  • DSO (Decision Support Objects): This library supplies a hierarchical object model for use with any development environment that can support Common Object Model (COM) objects and interfaces such as MS Visual C++, MS Visual Basic. Its objects encapsulate server platform, SQL Server databases, MDX functions, OLAP data structures, Data Mining models and user roles.

  • Pivot Table Service: This is client-based OLE DB provider for Analysis Service OLAP and Data Mining functionalities. This is powerful but heavy client interface.

Oracle:

  • Oracle 9i Data Mining API (java): This is open API and Oracle makes its published specification easily available.

Conclusion

Microsoft and Oracle address all of our business intelligence platform requirements. They provide relational data warehousing, build and manage facilities, OLAP, data mining, and application interfaces to relational data warehouses, to OLAP data and analytic functionality, and to data mining.

  • Microsoft provides a comprehensive business intelligence platform. Build and manage capabilities, OLAP capabilities, and application interfaces are its key strengths. Data mining is very new, although data mining integration and data mining tools are quite good.

  • Oracle provides a comprehensive business intelligence platform. While this platform has a complete set of components, OLAP and data mining capabilities are unproven, data mining tools are low level, and build and manage capabilities are not consistently implemented for relational and OLAP data.

When consider the price, Microsoft leaves Oracle behind. Microsoft entire BI platform can be bought at $19,999 but it is about $80,000 for Oracle before adding $5,000 per user fees for build and manage capabilities.

I highly appreciate all your comments about this article. You can reach me through dinesh@dineshpriyankara.com

 

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