Hyperion, Microsoft Corp., and SAS have announced "a new release of the XML for Analysis (XMLA) specification. XML for Analysis Specification Version 1.1 provides an updated specification and API standard for vendors to access multidimensional databases as a Web service. XML for Analysis provides a set of XML Message Interfaces that use the industry standard Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) to define the data access interaction between a client application and an analytical data provider (OLAP and data mining) working over the Internet. Version 1.1 is the first version of the XMLA specification to be created in conjunction with members of the XMLA Advisory Council, a standards group that was formed after Hyperion and Microsoft released XML for Analysis Specification Version 1.0 in 2001. The XMLA Advisory Council also announced that it has added seven new members. The new council members -- Crystal Decisions, INEA, MIS AG, MJM Consultant Corp., Panorama Software Systems, SAP AG and Silvon Software, Inc.-- bring additional analytics expertise to the group. Several member companies recently hosted an interoperability workshop in Vancouver, British Columbia (November 6-8, 2002) to demonstrate the new XMLA standard working on an open, integrating platform for the analytics and business intelligence marketplace. On May 13, 2003, some 20 member companies of the XML for Analysis (XMLA) Council will participate in the worlds first public XMLA interoperability demonstration at The Data Warehouse Institute World Conference in San Francisco, CA."
Bibliographic information: XML for Analysis Specification. Version 1.1. From Microsoft Corporation and Hyperion Solutions Corporation. Updated Version: 11/20/2002. 107 pages.
About XMLA: "XML for Analysis (XMLA) is an open industry-standard web service interface designed specifically for online analytical processing (OLAP) and data-mining functions. It is a key enabler of a new generation of Business Intelligence solutions that will allow businesses to develop and deploy solutions more quickly, easily and broadly in today's information technology environments. The architecture of XMLA builds upon the existing web service standards of HTTP, XML, and SOAP. It provides the basis for interoperability between loosely coupled Business Intelligence technologies from multiple vendors running on a variety of hardware and operating systems over the Web and in private distributed environments."
Design Summary: 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."
Update. From the 2002-11-21 announcement:
In addition to the new release of the XMLA specification, the XMLA Advisory Council announced that it has added seven new members. The new council members -- Crystal Decisions, INEA, MIS AG, MJM Consultant Corp., Panorama Software Systems, SAP AG and Silvon Software, Inc.-- bring additional analytics expertise to the group.
The new council members join a growing group of industry leaders that have previously announced their support for XMLA. The primary drivers of the XMLA specification include Hyperion, Microsoft and SAS. XMLA Council members also include Alphablox, ANGOSS Software Corp., Applied OLAP, Applix, Inc., Aspirity, ArcPlan, Inc., Brio Software, Business Objects, Cognos, Comshare Inc., DSS Lab, Inc., Lawson Software, MicroStrategy, ProClarity, Inc., Simba Technologies, SPSS Inc.,Temtec and Vigilance, Inc.
In addition to releasing the new Version 1.1 of the XMLA specification, Hyperion, Microsoft, SAS, and Simba Technologies recently hosted an interoperability workshop in Vancouver, British Columbia November 6-8, 2002 to demonstrate the new XMLA standard working on an open, integrating platform for the analytics and business intelligence marketplace. The successful event provided a forum for XMLA council members to begin work on subsequent versions of the specification, as well as providing council members the opportunity to test XMLA consumers against XMLA provider offerings. Software providers testing their products included Comshare, Hyperion, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, SAP, MIS AG and Simba. Consumers included ArcPlan, Aspirity, Microsoft, MIS AG, ProClarity and SPSS.
The event marked the first time that member companies with client applications using the specification could test against analytic data providers that support XMLA. A total of 20 XMLA Council members were represented at the event.
The XML for Analysis (XMLA) advisory council is made up of a number of leading business intelligence software vendors that have announced their support and backing of XMLA, a set of XML message interfaces that use the industry standard Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) to define data access interaction between a client application and an analytical data provider working over the Internet. The council has jointly published an XMLA specification that allows corporate developers, third party tool vendors and other partners to query analytical data providers in a standard way. The new standard is expected to accelerate the adoption of Internet business intelligence software and increase the market for those technologies.
XML for Analysis Specification Executive Summary:
XML for Analysis is a Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)-based XML API, designed specifically for standardizing the data access interaction between a client application and a data provider working over the Web.
Under traditional data access techniques, such as OLE DB and ODBC, a client component that is tightly coupled to the data provider server must be installed on the client machine in order for an application to be able to access data from a data provider. Tightly coupled client components can create dependencies on a specific hardware platform, a specific operating system, a specific interface model, a specific programming language, and a specific match between versions of client and server components.
The requirement to install client components and the dependencies associated with tightly coupled architectures are unsuitable for the loosely coupled, stateless, crossplatform, and language independent environment of the Internet. To provide reliable data access to Web applications the Internet, mobile devices, and cross-platform desktops need a standard methodology that does not require component downloads to the client.
Extensible Markup Language (XML) is generic and can be universally accessed. What if, instead of invoking the proprietary interface of a client component, you could call methods and transfer data through XML HTTP messages without any client component? What if the application developer could build client components without concern for tight coupling to a server component or application? What if an application, developed with any programming language and running on any platform, could access data from any place on the Web without having to plan for specific platform support or even a specific provider version? This specification answers these questions with XML for Analysis.
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. This 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.
- Announcement 2002-11-21: "Hyperion, Microsoft, and SAS Release New Specification of XML for Analysis. New Specification and New XMLA Advisory Council Members Help Drive XMLA as an Industry Standard."
- XML for Analysis Specification. Version 1.1. [source .DOC]
- XML for Analysis (XMLA) website
- XMLA FAQ document
- XMLA News
- XMLA Member contacts
- The OLAP Report [Business Intelligence, Inc.]
- Announcement 2001-04-23: "Microsoft and Hyperion Publish Open XML for Analysis Specification. XML Message Interface Expected to Drive Adoption of Business Intelligence and Analytical Web Services. Microsoft .NET Platform to Deliver Full Support for XML for Analysis."
- "XML for Analysis" - Main reference page.