The MicroStrategy platform’s Intelligence Cube (iCube) feature is a multi-dimensional large data cache. It lets you perform analyses away from the underlying database, enabling fast querying and split-second response times.
But with the sheer amount of data available to an enterprise organisation today, and the importance now placed on real-time data, MicroStrategy users are faced with a set of challenges and opportunities that an iCube may not be able to support.
What can an iCube do for you?
MicroStrategy’s iCube feature is great to analyze data that’s not time-sensitive, and if the analysis happens regularly at the same time.
Let’s take a standard HR report such as the monthly payroll. You know the day when you need the report each month, and you know that the parameters are fixed. Also, the data is unlikely to wildly change month by month. In this case iCube is perfect. by your DBA (Database Administrator), it can be left alone to deliver the results quickly and easily.
This leaves your database free to perform other mission-critical tasks. If you’re running a high-end database, it should be able to deal with most workloads without impacting performance.
However, if your database is less powerful, keeping your analytical queries to a minimum is sensible. This way the database can concentrate on powering your transactional systems.
When is a live connection the better option?
Let’s consider another scenario – launching a new product into a highly competitive market.
The first days of the launch are crucial. How and where is the product selling, and which promotions are working well? You’ll want a broad overview, but you’ll also need to drill down to extremely granular data.
Until the campaign starts, you won’t know for sure what analyses or reports you’ll need. In this example, a live connection to the underlying database may be a better option than iCube.
A new analysis dimension
A live connection allows you to look at data almost in real-time. It opens up a whole new dimension of analysis.
Rather than being restricted to specific data sets and samples, you’ll be able to perform analyses across all data in your ecosystem.
There’s more flexibility to explore all the parameters of the data set, allowing you to dig even deeper for more valuable insights. And you’ll have one master data source and thus one single source of truth.
With faster analysis and smarter insights, you can see why a live database connection from MicroStrategy is popular.
It’s all about choice
Of course, a live connection might need more ongoing support from your DBAs. But it’s still less than if they were asked to create and maintain multiple iCubes to do the same job.
A word of warning though – a live connection is only as effective as the database you’re using. The more powerful and feature-rich the database, the more benefits a live connection option will bring.
Deciding between a live connection and an in-memory analytics tool such as MicrosStrategy’s iCube shouldn’t be seen in binary terms.
It’s better to give yourself a choice and then optimize your system for the task at hand. Harness iCube’s query speed and low maintenance for predictable and standard analysis and employ a live connection option when you need to interrogate large data volumes, in real time, at any time – and very fast.
Find out more about how you can supercharge your BI performance in MicroStrategy – and get the best analytics performance for your data stack.