Here comes Plato

The prolonged wait for Plato is almost over as Microsoft prepares to ship the long-awaited online analytical processing (Olap) engine later this year. For months, some observers have predicted that Microsoft's entry will radically change the Olap and data warehousing market. Many experts have said that Plato will widely expand the potential market, while smothering some of today's Olap engine suppliers. Others predict success for Microsoft, but without significant changes to the competitive landscape.

Whatever happens, the Olap world is already jockeying for position. For example, Olap pioneer Arbor Software Corp. this spring agreed to merge with Hyperion Software Corp., which had earlier disclosed plans to link its budgeting applications to Plato.

Data warehousing guru Julie Hahnke, president of ID- Tech, takes a close look at the implications of Plato and its sister product OLE DB for Olap (code-named Tensor) for I/S development managers in this month's Cover Story, "Plato vs. the republic." Hahnke, a regular contributor to ADT, examines the promised features and functions of the new Microsoft offerings. She gives her expert take on how competitors should respond, as well as her thoughts on how users can best take advantage of the situation. Microsoft's entry will change the game. But Hahnke does not expect competition to dry up as it did in the spreadsheet and word processing markets after the unveiling of Microsoft Office.

Hahnke's report anchors a Summer Data Warehousing Special Report that includes profiles of data warehousing projects undertaken at several major companies, including American Airlines, MCI, Service Merchandise Corp. and Parts America, a subsidiary of Western Auto. Staffers Jack Vaughan, Jason J. Meserve and Jennifer Lancione talked to the implementers of these projects to find out what works and what doesn't.

Our efforts found that no matter what Microsoft does, I/S organizations will continue to build data warehouses as a key part of their effort to easily access the vital data found in separate systems throughout an organization.

As some development teams concentrate on building warehouses, others are continuing the journey to year 2000 compliance. "Y2K: The cost of test," by James Brady, CEO of MatriDigm Corp., looks at how automated testing techniques can significantly cut costs and speed the testing process. Our efforts to provide expert help in fixing year 2000 problems continue. Right now, we are compiling a comprehensive list of year 2000 tools that will be published in September. Stay tuned.

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.