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Server Versus Client OLAP

OLAP depends on a special database structure called a multidimensional cube to provide fast response when you drill and change dimensions and measures. The cube organizes the data into dimensions and precalculates the aggregates at each of the dimension hierarchy levels. The decisions about which measures, dimensions, and dimension levels to include in a cube when it is created limit what you can view in an Excel OLAP PivotTable.

With Excel, you can choose to build your own cubes from a relational database, such as Microsoft Access or Oracle, or you can connect to cubes prebuilt by a database administrator and stored in Microsoft SQL Server version 7 or later (see Figure 30.3). With server-based cubes, you can connect to the server and immediately begin pivoting and drilling through cube data. With self-built cubes, first you must run Excel’s wizard to define the cube structure and then wait for Excel to process data from the source into the cube. You then can browse the cube’s data in an OLAP PivotTable and save the cube to disk for later reuse in PivotTables. Because cubes contain snapshots of the source data from which they are built, whenever data in the underlying source database changes, the cube must be reprocessed to include the new or changed data.


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