In This Chapter
Looking into multidimensional databases
Weighing the benefits of specialty data stores
Using appliances designed for your data warehousing needs
Checking out some specialty database products
Relational databases have become the steady, general-purpose champion of the data-management world. The straightforward table-row-column structure, not all that different (at least, conceptually) from a basic spreadsheet, is a flexible method by which you can organize data for many different purposes.
That's the good news.
The not-so-good news is that the flexibility comes with a price. Specifically, in some areas of data management (not many, but some), the table-row-column structure, also known as a horizontal storage manager, is inefficient and performs poorly — at least, until you enhance (or, in some cases, overhaul) the relational database management system (RDBMS) to handle these out-of-the-ordinary missions.
One of these areas is multidimensional analysis, a way of looking at data as facts organized by dimensions. (I cover all this stuff in the section "The idea behind multidimensional databases," later in this chapter.) As Chapter 5 points out, RDBMS products have been augmented with specialized, enhanced multi-table query optimization so that they can handle data more efficiently in a multidimensional manner.
This isn't the first time in recent history that new types of database products have emerged ...