OLAP: What It Is, Applications, Types, Advantages, and Disadvantages

OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) Tutorial: In this tutorial, we are going to learn about the applications of OLAP, types of OLAP, Advantages and Disadvantages of OLAP. By IncludeHelp Last updated : August 02, 2023

What is Online Analytical Processing or OLAP?

OLAP is an advance technology for data analysis; used in business intelligence. It is efficient to do complex analytics and also allows users to extract the data for analysis. OLAP includes software package that have functionalities to examine the data from different information systems at the same time.

Analysts can aggregate the data to find desired results; therefore, OLAP data can be pre-calculated and pre-aggregated which makes data discovery, report viewing, complex analytics faster.

Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) Applications

The following are the applications of an OLAP:

  • Typical applications of OLAP embody business news for sales, marketing, management news, business method management (BPM), budgeting and prognostication, money news and similar areas, with new applications arising, like agriculture.
  • The term OLAP was created as a small modification of the normal info term OLTP (Online dealing Processing).
  • Two leading OLAP merchandise square measure Titan Solution's Essbase and Oracle's categorical Server.
  • OLAP merchandise square measure usually designed for multiple-user environments, with the price of the package, supported the number of users.

Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) Types

OLAP is mainly categories in three parts which are as follows -

1. Relational OLAP (ROLAP): Star Schema based

The ROLAP is a type of data processing model; it’s specifically designed to work with large size data based on multidimensionality data model. It follows relational database principles. Hence, data stores in relational tables and data accessing from data-warehouse using complex SQL queries.

2. Multidimensional OLAP (MOLAP): Cube based

MOLAP is also a type of online analytical processing. MOLAP is most widely used in businesses to analyze data quickly and efficiently. This analysis helps business organisations to find business trends and insights; the analytical result gives the direction to take healthy business decisions.

3. Hybrid OLAP (HOLAP)

HOLAP could be a combination of ROLAP and MOLAP. HOLAP server permits to store the large volume of information system. Generally, HOLAP leverages the cube technology to perform quickly and summary-type information.

OLAP Other Common Types

Some other common types of OLAP's are as follows –


As its name implies, WOLAP is an online analytical processing model based on web browsers. Its architecture is based on client, middleware, and database server.

A Web-based application requires no deployment on the client machine. All that is needed is a Web browser and a network connection to the intranet or Internet. A web-based program doesn't need to be installed at the client side; hence, the technology only requires a web browser and strong network connection to the internet or intranet.

2. Desktop OLAP (DOLAP)

DOLAP stands for desktop analytical processing. In DOLAP, a user can download the data from the source and work with their desktop. In DOLAP technology, cubes are used to store the data. Users feel like they have their own spreadsheet and system is dedicated to them only. Hence, they do not need to be concerned about performance impacts against the server because data stores locally.

3. Mobile OLAP (MOLAP)

As its name implies, it’s a type of online analytical processing which works for mobile devices. Now days, users are able to access, upload, and process their data using mobile devices.

4. Spatial OLAP (SOLAP)

SOLAP stands for Spatial Online Analytical Processing. It is a method that gives users the ability to analyse geographical data that stores in a multidimensional data warehouse. SOLAP technology enables its users to examine spatial patterns and trends from data more effectively.

Advantages of OLAP

  • OLAP technology supports businesses by designing, reporting, and analysing business data.
  • Fast processing of large size data.
  • Quickly analyze "What if" situations.
  • Multidimensional data represents easily.
  • OLAP provides the building blocks for business modelling.
  • It allows users to do slice and dice cube information using different dimensions, measures, and filters.
  • It is convenient to end users.
  • No specific skills are required for business people to use the application.
  • It is user-friendly and scalable. It suits to all users like small, medium and large businesses.

Disadvantages of OLAP

  • It requires organized information into a star or snowflake schema.
  • You cannot have a sizable amount of dimensions during a single OLAP cube.
  • It is not best fitted for the transactional information.
  • OLAP cube desires a full update of the cube which is difficult at the moment.

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