Online analytical processing

Online analytical processing (OLAP) is an approach to producing real-time reports and insights, usually based on large amounts of source data.

A major function of OLAP tools is to provide data-based intelligence to inform and support business decisions. The target data usually includes operational activities that are then analyzed for use by various functions, such as sales, marketing, and finance.

From a technical perspective, most traditional, row-oriented database systems are better suited to online transactional processing (OLTP), but are not very efficient for OLAP scenarios. Column-oriented databases are more efficient, as they provide quicker access to subsets of the stored data. However, most database systems aim for a hybrid approach that primarily focuses on optimizing either OLAP or OLTP scenarios, while offering solutions to support the alternative scenario.