What are the requirements to run OLAP cubes? Can I run OLAP with Office 97 Suite?

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OLAP typically requires a database to store the detailed information that gets aggregated in a multidimensional analysis. This database can be either a standard relational database with a special query engine or a standalone multidimensional database. The former is called ROLAP (Relational OLAP) while the latter is usually referred to as MOLAP (Multidimensional OLAP).

As I understand it, Microsoft Office does not come with any built-in OLAP capabilities. The closest that you can get to OLAP is the pivot table capabilities built into Microsoft Excel. Pivot tables give you some basic multidimensional aggregations but for any significant analysis you will need something more sophisticated. Microsoft's SQL Server database does provide integrated OLAP services, which can be accessed by the Excel pivot table functionality, but you will need both SQL Server and Office.

This was first published in October 2002

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