Fifteen years ago, OLAP cubes were a critical part of every analytics and BI stack. In a time when databases were slow and compute was expensive, cubes provided an elegant solution for standardizing multi-dimensional reporting. Over the last decade, however, they’ve fallen out of favor. As warehouses have gotten bigger, faster, and cheaper, cubes no seem longer necessary. Analysis and reporting is now done directly on top of raw data, no predefined or pre-aggregated cubes required.

Or are they? OLAP cubes are reappearing in the modern data stack—just in a different form and under a different name. Instead of being separate data marts built for reporting and BI, cubes are now synthetic, generalized, and on-demand. In this talk, I’ll walk through the history of OLAP cubes and their modern echoes. And I’ll explain why this is actually a good thing—and why we should actually be excited about the return of the OLAP cube. 

Benn Stancil

Chief Analytics Officer | Mode

Benn Stancil is a co­founder and Chief Analyst at Mode, a company building collaborative tools for data scientists and analysts. Benn is responsible for overseeing Mode's internal analytics efforts, and is also an active contributor to the data science community. In addition, Benn provides strategic oversight and guidance to Mode's product direction as a member of the product leadership team.

Benn Stancil