What is MOLAP?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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MOLAP, or multidimensional online analytical processing, is an application that is utilized to index data into a multidimensional database. As one form of online analytical processing, or OLAP, the MOLAP approach allows the viewer of the data to arrange the data in various types of sequence by specifying sorting protocols and other aspects of the data retrieval. This means that instead of having to make do with one or two possible views of data, the end user has the ability to view the data from several different angles, and with varying perimeters specified.

Essentially, MOLAP interfaces with information that is already resident in a given database. The protocols within MOLAP allow for the selection of different aspects of the data, as well as arranging the data according to specifications executed by the end user. This functionality allows multiple formats for viewing, all based on the information contained in a single database.

One way to understand the way that MOLAP works to the advantage of a corporation is to consider the application to a sales database. Often, a database of this type will contain key information about a client. This information may include such items as contact names, physical addresses, the type of goods and services purchased, dates of purchases, the salesperson or account manager assigned to the customer, and sometimes invoiced amounts related to those purchases.


Using MOLAP, a sales manager can create a report sorted by account manager, arranged according to client names, and identifying all generated revenue associated with the salesperson’s accounts within a given time period. By the same token, MOLAP can generate a list of clients based in a given location, which may be helpful in setting appointments when a salesperson plans to be in the area. Essentially, MOLAP can capture and sort by any field contained in the database that is not restricted from that type of activity.

Along with MOLAP, there are two other types of OLAP application processing options. ROLAP, or relational online analytical processing is sometimes considered to be a more focused version of MOLAP. HOLAP is a hybrid form of OLAP that is understood to combine the best features of ROLAP and MOLAP. All these processing tools are used extensively in many business and home applications, with MOLAP being utilized in the management and use of data warehouse applications in many companies.


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