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Applix Still Shows a Presence in the OLAP Market

Written By: M. Reed
Published On: June 19 2000

Applix Still Shows a Presence in the OLAP Market
M. Reed - June 19, 2000

Event Summary

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.

"Applix 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."

As 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.

Market Impact

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.

The 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.

User Recommendations

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.)

Applix 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.

 
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