Friday, November 12, 2010

Future of MOLAP, Cube, MDX against BISM

I'm reading: Future of MOLAP, Cube, MDX against BISMTweet this !
Microsoft is of the opinion that MOLAP and BISM would survive together like C++ and C# in .NET. If I think as a customer, when I am aware of the roadmap that has been proposed, I would neither go for BISM nor try to get any more of MOLAP in my territory as the current roadmap would confuse me. BISM would not be completely mature in the Denali version, and MOLAP is under that threat of getting obsolete sooner or later. When someone invests millions into a product / technology, one wants to make sure that the product would continue to live till the next 8-10 years, though with newer blood induced through new releases/versions and medications in the form of service packs. As per the comment by Amir Netz on Chris's post, one statement says "Even with VertiPaq BISM introduced, MOLAP UDM is still used for all the high end heavy lifting" and one another statement says "VertiPaq BISM is advancing rapidly and is able to take on broader and broader workloads", and I translate it as, till VertiPaq BISM does not reach it's target, MOLAP UDM would provide cover-fire. Considering performance of BISM and in-memory vertipaq demonstrated in the PASS summit, I do not think it would be later than SQL Server 2011 R2 kind of version, for BISM to replace MOLAP in terms of maturity. In terms of adoption, it really depends how it propagates into the client territory.

Developer community is quite concerned and showing mixed reactions to this evolution. But one another community that would be concerned with this evolution is the partner products community, like Panorama, WhereScape RED and others. In my views, one of the factors that keeps a technology survived is the ecosystem of partner products that are bound to it. If the concept of Cube, MOLAP, MDX etc are wiped out, even then upto an extent they would be survived by partner products by building a layer over BISM.

a) If customers would feel the need to have the development environment operate in the same way, ISVs would come out with products that act like a shell. DAX can be seen as a shell around MDX, like Windows GUI is a shell around the core OS APIs. For eg. Tools / Utilities such as MDX to DAX converter, MOLAP and BISM integrator, or a Panorama kind of environment which acts like a managing shell over powerpivot can come to rescue if BISM is not getting popular either with developers / customers. Also MS can provide additional features in MOLAP that compensates / simulates what is available in BISM environment, and even if MS won't, ISVs would pick up this business if there is a strong requirement from the customers.

b) And if customers would find the new evolution of BISM tempting enough to upgrade / abandon the old MOLAP , in that case we were always running through a risk of this change and it was just a matter of time when this change would occur. We would be lucky even in this case as Microsoft has catered this required change, instead of a non-microsoft BI platform vendor.

Complex Event Processing, Columnar databases, Cloud computing etc are not new concepts and it's only that Microsoft is expanding it's BI territory now and introducing these players one by one in the form of StreamInsight, Project Apollo, Windows Azure and SQL Azure etc. BISM might be a new mixture of various old and new concepts, but if it outperforms MOLAP performance, it deserves to be the new leader in OLAP space replacing MOLAP.

I am of the strong opinion that MOLAP and probably MDX too would go obsolete sooner or later, but those who fear extinction of their jobs due to this evolution, I would say that there is no reason for the same. Even if Microsoft undergoes a drastic change, partner product community would find a business opportunity in this event, and would exploit the business of rescuing legacy customers, effectively jobs for SSAS developers. It is a similar kind of threat that DBAs might be feeling with the popularity of cloud, but a new generation of computing requires a new generation of DBA. If you feel that SSAS, MOLAP and MDX were too hard for relational brains and your job has been secure due to the scarce availability of developers who practice this skill than the quality of your consulting in providing data warehousing solutions, I feel that BISM can be the kick that might wake you up from this sedative.

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