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A technology standard that allows software components to be modularized so that they can be re-used in multiple applications on the same computer or across a network. An ActiveX module exposes properties (variables) and methods (functions) that allow the calling program to control its behavior and exploit its functionality. Examples of this can be as simple as a 'pick list' control on a form or as complex as ADO. On the client browser side, these only work in Internet Explorer.


ActiveX Data Objects (ADO) are a set of ActiveX objects (modules) used in programming languages (e.g. VBScript, JScript, and VB) to interface with a relational database. For example, it greatly facilitates connecting to, and retrieving data from, the database tables.


ActiveX Data Objects Multi-Dimensional (ADO MD) is an extension to ADO that provides access to multidimensional data by recognizing OLAP structures.

Analysis Services

Microsoft's multidimensional (OLAP) database management system that comes as an optional install with SQL Server 2000, 2005 and 2008. It is well suited for enterprise-wide Decision Support, Business Intelligence (BI) and Executive Information Systems (EIS). Formerly known as "Microsoft OLAP Server" with SQL Server 7, it is now the market leader in OLAP.


1. Active Server Page: A Web page containing Server side scripting (programming), using VBScript, that gets processed by Microsoft IIS and compatible Web Servers before being passed to the client browser. 2. Application Service Provider: A company that provides shared application/database services over the internet.


Business Intelligence (BI) is information presented in a manner that facilitates the tracking and analysis of all business data necessary to support tactical and strategic decisions. It is best served by OLAP Data Marts with some list information coming from a central Data Warehouse.

Business Technologist

A professional who has information technology skills in combination with education and experience in one or more business disciplines such as Finance, Accounting, Marketing, or Management.


Common Gateway Interchange (CGI) is a technology that allows us to call compiled programs or scripts on the Web Server. These programs, most often 'Perl' scripts, can accept user input and build pages dynamically. Still seen on UNIX based Web servers, CGI was the most common way to create data driven Web applications (e.g. an online catalogue) before the introduction of ASP and JSP.


Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a category of applications that focuses on the collection and dissemination of all information that may improve the customer's buying experience and sales success rates. A CRM application can be as simple as a contact manager, but usually refers to a system that integrates historical transaction data with customer demographics to produce online customer profiles. The resultant database information allows for more timely and personalized marketing initiatives. A CRM system is well served by an OLAP database.

Cube File

A Cube File is a self contained Analysis Services OLAP database. It is sometimes refered to as an "offline" cube and can be created using Excel's Pivot Table interface from a subset of an existing Analysis Services database and used to take smaller amounts of data with you for further analysis. A cube file has an extension of ".cub".

Data Warehouse

A collection of databases designed to support tactical analysis and decision making. Data warehouses are usually enterprise wide and contain and combine data from a variety of transaction (OLTP) systems.

Data Mart

A database or collection of databases designed to support tactical and/or strategic analysis and decision making. Data Marts are usually more localized than a Data Warehouse and are designed to directly satisfy the management needs of a specific department or business unit.


IBM's multidimensional database based on a choice of either DB2 (ROLAP) or Oracle (Hyperion) Essbase (MOLAP)


IBM's long standing relational database software which can run on almost any operating system environment from mainframes to Windows.


Decision Support System (DSS): A management application that presents information in a manner that facilitates the tracking and analysis of all business data necessary to support tactical and strategic decisions. It is best served by OLAP Data Marts with some list information coming from a central Data Warehouse. It is essentially an older (1980's) name for BI systems.


Executive Information System (EIS): An executive-friendly strategic reporting application that allows middle and upper management to interactively select, view and analyze up-to-date reports and graphs of critical success factors. An EIS is often served by a multidimensional database. Examples of EIS software are Oracle (Hyperion) Analyzer, and Cognos Powerplay.


Oracle's (formerly Hyperion Solutions') multidimensional (OLAP) database that is well suited for enterprise-wide Decision Support, Business Intelligence (BI) and Executive Information Systems (EIS). It was originally developed by Arbor Software circa 1990 and was the market leader in OLAP until 2003.


Extraction, Transformation and Loading (ETL) is the set of processes and techniques for retrieving data from one set of systems (e.g. OLTP and Data Warehouses) and combining, filtering, and mapping it for loading into a specialized reporting system such as a Data Mart or OLAP database.

Fact Table

The central table in a star schema containing a column (or columns) for numerical data preceded by columns of metadata that identify the numeric data. For example, a Fact Table row might contain:

"Plan 2001, Albany, Widgets (a product), Sales, February, 12,345.00".
The 12,345.00 is the numeric data, the rest is descriptive metadata.


File Transport Protocol: A standard electronic communication language used to encode data for transmission between two separate computing environments. Often used to transmit files between mainframes and PC's or Servers.


Hybrid OLAP: An OLAP database architecture that employs a combination of both the ROLAP and MOLAP storage techniques.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the standard text-based language used to define the formatting and layout of Web pages.


see: Internet Explorer


see: Internet Information Server

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer (IE) is Microsoft's Web browser program.

Internet Information Server

Internet Information Server (IIS) is Microsoft's Web server software available with Windows NT and Windows 2000 server operating systems.

IP Address

An IP (Internet Protocol) Address is the unique identifier required by every computer in the world directly connected to the internet so that it can send and receive data. It consists of four integers between 0 and 255, separated by periods. For example:


Internet Service Provider: A company that provides access to the internet to individuals and businesses.


Server or Client (browser) side web page scripting language that allows for event-driven (user action) and dynamic content. Developed by Netscape and Sun, its syntax and semantics are based on the 'C' and Java programming languages.


Microsoft's reverse-engineered answer to JavaScript which allows JavaScripted web sites to work in Internet Explorer.


Java Server Page: A Web page containing Server side scripting (programming), using JavaScript or JScript, that gets processed by the Web Server before being passed back to the client browser.


Multidimensional Expressions (MDX) is a query language similar looking to SQL that uses ADO MD to allow you to query the multidimensional database (or cubes) of Microsoft Analysis Services. Microsoft hopes to make it an OLAP querying standard.


Metadata is textual data that describes the meaning of numeric or encoded data. For example, the number 12,345 does not tell you anything by itself until you know that it represents "Actual April 2001 Sales dollars for Widgets in Albany, NY", which is its metadata. In any report, the page titles, column headers and row descriptions are metadata.


Multidimensional OLAP: Designed for on-line analytical processing, it is a strictly NON-relational database architecture that is principally based on the concept of a hypercube (multidimensional cube). An example of a product that employs this architecture is Essbase.


Data is considered to be multidimensional if there is a business need to analyze it across different attributes and summary aggregation points. For example your company might have $50 Million in "Total Sales Revenue" for one year, but for strategic reporting you need to break it down either individually or simultaneously into months, regions or products. The organization of your data into these three metadata dimensions allows you to investigate your issues or opportunities over time, by region and by product.

Multidimensional Database

A database architecture that stores metadata and data in an efficient manner so that it can be used to analyze and report multidimensional data quickly and, at the same time, not take up too much disk space. It is often used synonymously with "OLAP Database". It is usually represented in data flow diagrams by a cube.

Netscape Navigator

Netscape's Web browser program. In the mid 1990's it was the dominant browser program and was a key catalyst in the rapid growth and acceptance of the internet.


Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) is an industry standard technology that allows relational databases created by various companies (e.g. DB2 , Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access) to be accessed using a common interface. This allows software developers to create tools and applications that are independent of the buyer's choice of database. All relational database management systems have ODBC drivers (programs) which essentially translate a Microsoft standard SQL into their proprietary SQL to carry out database operations.


On-line Analytical Processing (OLAP) describes an application or database that facilitates the interactive analysis of business information. In context with a database, it is synonymous with "multidimensional".

OLAP Server

Microsoft's first multidimensional (OLAP) database management system that comes as an optional install with SQL Server 7. The current version is called Analysis Services.


On-line Transaction Processing (OLTP) is used to describe systems that collect and retrieve data to support operational processes. Examples of OLTP systems include Order Entry, Telemarketing, Payroll, Helpdesk, Inventory, and Service. This acronym was coined to describe systems that are not OLAP.


In the context of a multidimensional report in a spreadsheet, a pivot is the movement of a dimension from being across (columns) to down (rows) or vice-versa.

Pivot Table

A special Microsoft Excel table that displays multidimensional database data in a two dimensional format. The headers, rows and columns are defined by metadata selections. It facilitates the navigation of a multidimensional database by providing user-friendly selection, drill-down and pivoting.


Query By Example for Excel (QBEX) was an Excel Add-in interface to Microsoft Analysis Services. It allows business users to query and manipulate cube data within Excel for reporting and planning. It was originally written by Advance Info Systems but is currently Analytics Analyzer within the Cartesis suite of BPM products - see www.cartesis.com.

Relational Database

A Relational Database is a type of database management system that stores data in the form of a collection of cross-indexed tables. Each table focuses on a different component of related application data. For example: in a simple order-entry application, the relational database might contain tables for Orders, Order-Items, Sales People, Customers, and Inventory. The 'Customer' table would contain all information relating to the customer such as customer number, name, address, start date, etc.. It is ideal for the collection and processing of data for on-line transaction processing (OLTP) systems and for producing operational reports.


Relational OLAP: a relational database architecture that is designed for on-line analytical processing applications. Usually consists of a fact table and dimension tables linked and cross-indexed in a star schema.


A Server is basically a networked computer that is designed to provide client PC's with a centralized shared service. Examples of servers include Print Servers, Database Servers, Application Servers, and Web Servers. Most often, depending on its purpose, a server has multiple fast CPU's (processors), large amounts of RAM (memory) and large disk space capacity. Its operating systems are most often UNIX or Windows NT/2000.


Structured Query Language: Pronounced "S.Q.L.", it is a text-based querying language used to report or extract data from a relational database. All relational database management systems (e.g. Oracle, Sybase, SQL Server , DB2, and Access) come with a form of SQL with almost identical syntax.

SQL Server

Pronounced "Sequel Server", this is Microsoft's enterprise relational database product.

Star Schema

A Star Schema is a relational database architecture designed to support an OLAP application. In its simplest form, it consists of a central fact table surrounded by attribute (or 'dimension') tables that correspond to each metadata column in the fact table. Each dimension table contains all possible values for the attribute and may also have aggregation (roll-up) information. The dimension tables are cross-indexed to the fact table.


Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is the de facto standard set of communications protocols (languages) used to connect computers (servers and clients) on the internet.


UNIX is a multi-user, multi-tasking operating system originally developed by AT&T in the 1970s. It now exists in various forms including HP, AIX, Solaris and more recently Linux. It is the predominant operating system used by Internet servers.


Uniform Resource Locator (URL): The address for a Web page. For example this web site has a URL of: "http://www.olapsys.com".


see: Visual Basic


Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is Visual Basic integrated into an application such as Microsoft Excel, Word, or Access that facilitates automation and customization.


Server or Internet Explorer Client (browser) side web page scripting language that allows for event-driven and dynamic content. Developed by Microsoft, its syntax and semantics are based on their Visual Basic. It does not work in Netscape browsers.

Visual Basic

Visual Basic (VB) is a graphical and object-oriented Microsoft Windows application programming language that evolved from Basic and QBasic. It provides an integrated development environment that allows software developers to rapidly create custom applications with its basic tool set (e.g. forms, buttons, pick lists, check boxes, ...) and any available Microsoft or third-party ActiveX objects that they require. It also can be used to create an ActiveX object.


Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a metalanguage which provides structure to data presented on the web. It allows data communication between non-compatible systems to facilitate the conduct of business-to-business transactions, and improves search and data management capabilities.

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