Reading this chapter may have felt like the linguistic equivalent of drinking from a fire hose; it is good you hung in there because now you have a foundation from which to build as you work through the rest of the book. Now you know data warehousing is all about structuring data for decision support. The data is consumed by the business analyst and business decision-maker and can be analyzed through OLAP and Data Mining techniques.
OLAP is a multidimensional database format that is a world apart in form and function when compared to an OLTP relational database system. You saw how OLAP uses a structure called a cube, which in turn relies on fact tables (which are populated with data called facts) and dimension tables. These dimension tables can be configured around one or more fact tables to create a star schema. If a dimension table is deconstructed to point to a chain of sub-dimension tables, the schema is called a snowflake schema.
By choosing Analysis Services 2005 you have chosen a business intelligence platform with awesome innovations built right in; like the UDM. Also, there is an advantage that Analysis Services 2005 offers — it comes from a particularly strong and reliable company that had the highest market share with its earlier product, Analysis Services 2000. The rest of this book illustrates the power of the platform quite clearly.
In the unlikely event that you didn't read the introduction, mention was made that you should read at least the first three chapters serially before attempting to tackle the rest of the book. So, please do not skip Chapter 2, an introduction to Analysis Services and Chapter 3, an introduction to the technology behind the most famous acronym in business analytics, MDX.