Is it still worthwhile to consider a multidimensional database?


With the advent of relational databases, is there still a place for MDDBs in data warehousing today, or is that considered obsolete technology?

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What's kind of funny is that a decade ago the question would have probably been is it still worthwhile to consider a relational database since multidimensional databases allow such higher levels of data organization.  Since then, relational databases have become the "go-to" standard, general purpose tool for data management.  For most purposes the relative ease of use (if you know SQL) and flexibility of a relational database is the best choice.  On the other hand, if you have a task that requires multiple variable events, it can make more sense to organize the data in the "cube" model of a MDDB, which makes it  possible to use the quantitative descriptions of an event set to analyze each dimension at different detail levels.


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For those who aren't familiar with MDB, here's a good definition:

What is a Multidimensional Database?

"A multidimensional database is a form of database that is designed to make the best use of storing and utilizing data. Usually structured in order to optimize online analytical processing (OLAP) and data warehouse applications, the multidimensional database can receive data from a variety of relational databases and structure the information into categories and sections that can be accessed in a number of different ways. Even persons who have relatively little experience working with a database often find that a multidimensional database, or MDB, requires only a short time to master.

While just about every relational database is structured for keyword searches and building a query by specifying fields and perimeters, the multidimensional database goes one step further. Rather then building a query, a user simply poses the question in everyday verbiage. This approach is used with several online help tools associated with software programs such as word processing and spreadsheet applications, as well as several of the more popular search engines currently in use."

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