Applix Still Shows a Presence in the OLAP Market
Applix Inc. has announced an agreement with Pelephone, Israel's second
largest cellular network and handset supplier, to deliver its real-time,
multi-dimensional Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) solution, iTM1.
Through its channel partner in Israel, BICONIX, Applix will provide Pelephone
the business intelligence capability for insight and analysis of cellular
customers' usage activities. iTM1 will analyze customer profiles for over
1.2 million Pelephone subscribers.
iTM1, together with Biconix, was able to provide the expertise in designing
large multidimensional systems that can help us consolidate and analyze
data instantaneously, all in real-time," said Efraim Deutch, vice president,
information systems, Pelephone. "This solution will give us the advantage
to manage our business and provide our customers with optimal service
and rate plans that they deserve. We will have a competitive advantage
to foster real partnerships with our customers."
part of the contract, Applix is developing a 64-bit processing architecture
to enable iTM1 to handle large-volume data sets required for concurrent
users to analyze Pelephone's growing subscriber base. iTM1 achieves its
multidimensional calculation performance by holding all the data in RAM
and performing the complex calculations on demand. By scaling to 64-bit
processing, Applix will provide a platform for supporting larger quantities
of RAM. The vendor hopes this development will demonstrate Applix's iTM1
as a fully scalable OLAP product for enterprise planning, analysis, modeling
and reporting applications.
Applix has recently been concentrating much of its efforts on Linux products
(it has created a wholly-owned subsidiary called VistaSource to handle
productivity and analytic applications for the Linux and ASP markets),
but still maintains a large presence in On-Line Analytical Processing
(OLAP) due to their TM1 (now called iTM1) product line. Applix acquired
the Sinper Corporation in 1996, which at the time was operating under
the name TM1. Applix controls the eighth largest percentage of the OLAP
market, estimated by the OLAP Council to be approximately 3.1% in 1999.
In the OLAP market, Applix competes with vendors such as Hyperion, Oracle,
Cognos, Brio, and Business Objects. Microsoft is also quickly moving up
the ranks with its OLAP Server, which is included with SQL Server 7 and
SQL Server 2000.
development of a 64-bit version of iTM1 will give Applix a stronger market
presence, but its RAM-based architecture will have to be carefully programmed
by the development team to ensure efficiency and the absence of memory
leaks. In addition, Applix does not mention that there are limitations
on the amount of RAM that can be addressed by any particular machine and
operating system. An example of a high-end limit would be the new IBM
RS/6000 Model S80, which can handle up to 64 Gigabytes of memory, but
is extremely expensive. Most corporate machines would not normally have
more than 512 Megabytes, a large percentage of which would be absorbed
by the operating system and other applications.
Customers evaluating OLAP solutions should include Applix iTM1 on a long
list of candidates. Care should be taken to size the database, the potential
for growth in the 1 to 2 year time frame, whether the required hardware
and RAM are going to be available, and whether the OLAP cube will be "sparse"
or "dense". (Sparsity caused by the design of the cube can result in "aggregate
explosion", which can lead to huge increases in the size of the database.)
representatives should be questioned about the future of their OLAP offerings
(given their propensity towards Linux at the moment), and reference accounts
should be consulted.