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Microsoft and Hyperion Solutions Publish XML for Analysis Specification.

A joint announcement from Microsoft and Hyperion Solutions describes the Version 1.0 release of the XML for Analysis Specification which provides an open access XML Message Interface solution. The document "specifies a SOAP-based XML communication API that supports the exchange of analytical data between clients and servers on any platform and with any language. The XML API is designed specifically for standardizing the data access interaction between a client application and a data provider working over the Web. XML for Analysis advances the concepts of OLE DB by providing standardized universal data access to any standard data source residing over the Web without the need to deploy a client component that exposes COM interfaces. XML for Analysis is optimized for the Web by minimizing roundtrips to the server and targeting stateless client requests to maximize the scalability and robustness of a data source. The specification defines two methods, Discover and Execute, which consume and send XML for stateless data discovery and manipulation. The specification is built upon the open Internet standards of HTTP, XML, and SOAP, and is not bound to any specific language or technology. The specification references OLE DB so that application developers already familiar with OLE DB can see how XML for Analysis can be mapped and implemented. These references also provide background information on the OLE DB definitions that the specification extends."

From the announcement and Version 1.0 specification:

Microsoft and Hyperion Solutions "announced that they have joined forces to publish the XML for Analysis specification, allowing open access to multidimensional databases from any platform. The collaboration between two leading OLAP vendors is expected to accelerate the adoption of Internet business intelligence software and represents significant momentum for XML-based analytic Web services. The joint effort will benefit customers, developers and independent software vendors in the following ways: (1) Customers will gain the ability to protect server and tools investments and ensure that new analytical deployments will interoperate and work cooperatively. (2) Developers will gain the ability to leverage existing developer skills and to use open access (3) XML-based Web services, eliminating the need to program to multiple APIs and query languages. Independent software vendors will be able to reduce complexity and costs for development and maintenance by writing to a single access interface."

Design summary and goals: The design centers around an XML-based communication API, called XML for Analysis, which defines two generally accessible methods: Discover and Execute. Because XML allows for a loosely coupled client and server architecture, both methods handle incoming and outgoing information in XML format. This API is optimized for the Internet, where roundtrips to the server are expensive in terms of time and resources, and where stateful connections to the data limit user connections on the server. The primary goals of this specification include the following: (1) Provide a standard data access API to remote data access providers that can be used universally on the Internet or intranet for multidimensional data; (2) Optimize a stateless architecture, requiring no client components for the Web, with minimal roundtrips; (3) Support technologically independent implementations using any tool, programming language, technology, hardware platform, or device; (4) Build on open Internet standards, such as SOAP, XML, and HTTP; (5) Leverage and reuse successful OLE DB design concepts, so that OLE DB for OLAP applications and OLE DB providers can be easily enabled for XML for Analysis; (6)Work efficiently with standard data sources, such as relational OLAP, and data mining.

As the first open access XML Message Interface solution designed to address the unique challenges of Internet-based analytical data access and manipulation, XML for Analysis has gained immediate support from business intelligence software developers, including Adaytum, AlphaBlox Corp., ANGOSS Software Corp., Brio Technology Inc., Business Objects Americas, Cizar Software, Cognos Corp., Comshare Inc., Crystal Decisions Inc., digiMine Inc., Harmony Software Inc., Keylime Software Inc., Knosys Inc., Lawson Software, MetaEdge Corp., MicroStrategy Inc., OutlookSoft Corp., Panorama Software Systems, SAP AG, Simba Technologies , SPSS Inc. and Visual Insights.

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