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Last modified: May 27, 2003
XML for Analysis

[November 21, 2002]   XMLA Advisory Council Announces XML for Analysis Specification Version 1.1.    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."

[April 23, 2001] XML for Analysis Specification provides "a set of XML Message Interfaces that use the industry standard Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) to define the data access interactions between a client application and an analytical data provider (OLAP and data mining) working over the Internet."

A joint announcement from Microsoft and Hyperion Solutions on 2001-04-23 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."

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.


  • XML for Analysis (XMLA) web site

  • XMLA FAQ document

  • XMLA News

  • XMLA Member contacts

  • XML for Analysis Specification. Version 1.1. From Microsoft Corporation and Hyperion Solutions Corporation. Updated Version: 11/20/2002. 107 pages. See the news item. [source .DOC]

  • Announcement: "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." [source]

  • XML for Analysis Specification. Version 1.0 [PDF version. April 23, 2001. [cache 2001-04-23]

  • XML for Analysis Specification Version 1.0 HTML version. [alt URL]

  • [May 27, 2003] "XML for Analysis Council Gains Momentum and Added Industry Support. Public Interoperability Event Showcases Industry Adoption and Support of XMLA." - "The XML for Analysis (XMLA) Council today announced the success of the first public XMLA Interoperability Event, which took place at The Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI) conference in San Francisco, May 11 - 14, 2003. The goal of this event was to provide more detail into the efforts and progress of the XMLA specification, and to further demonstrate the importance of XMLA as a leading open, industry standard in the Business Intelligence and Business Performance Management marketplaces. The event, sponsored by the XMLA Council, showcased early release versions of XMLA-compliant products from 18 Business Intelligence and Business Performance Management solution providers, including Applied OLAP, Arcplan, Aspirity, Brio, Comshare, Crystal Decisions, Hyperion, Intellimerce, Microsoft, Microstrategy, MIS, Panorama, ProClarity, SAP, SAS, Simba Technology, SPSS, and Temtec. The event followed the XMLA Council's second successful Interoperate Workshop, hosted by Simba Technologies, in early April 2003... The new council members join a growing group of industry leaders who have previously announced their support for XMLA. The importance of the growing list of companies supporting XMLA underscores the need for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to adopt XMLA as an open, industry standard, as well as the importance of customers to evaluating the purchases they are making in order to ensure that their investments will be able to interoperate with the leading products in the industry... As part of the recent Interoperability Event(s) the XMLA Council has not only demonstrated the interoperability among the various ISVs that make up the Council, but also the interoperability between XMLA and J2EE architected solutions and other cross-platform technologies. Given that XMLA is built on standard Web services technologies and is fundamentally a standard Web services query and reporting interface for Business Intelligence platforms, it is proving itself to be an open and cross-platform industry standard that works well in either .NET or J2EE environments. As an example of the cross-platform interoperability that is enabled via XMLA, one of the Council members, MIS AG, demonstrated both Java and DHTML based Consumers that use XMLA to seamlessly connect to XMLA Providers at the recent Interoperability Event(s)..."

  • [November 21, 2002] "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." - "Hyperion, Microsoft Corp., and SAS today 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. It 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. XML for Analysis Specification Version 1.1 is available for Web download... 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. 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..."

  • [November 21, 2002] "Microsoft, SAS, Hyperion Release New XMLA Specification." By Dennis Callaghan. In eWEEK (November 21, 2002). "... XML for Analysis is a Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)-based XML API, designed to standardize the data access interaction between a client application and a data provider via the Web. It requires no client software, unlike current data access techniques, such as OLE DB and ODBC, making it hardware, operating system and programming language independent. Version 1.1 of XMLA defines two new XML-based data access methods: Discover and Execute. Discover is used to obtain information and metadata from a Web service. This information can include a list of available data sources and data about the provider for a particular data source. Properties are used to define and shape what data is obtained. Discover allows users to specify the data obtained in a common way without rewriting existing functions. Execute is used to execute multidimensional expressions (MDX) or other provider-specific commands against a particular XML for Analysis data source. The Discover and Execute methods enable users to determine what can be queried on a particular server and, based on this, submit commands to be executed. The XML for Analysis provider then retrieves the requested data, packages it into XML and sends it back to the client. Members of the XMLA Council hope the specification, as it develops into a standard, will accelerate the adoption of Internet business intelligence software and increase the market for those technologies. The XMLA Council also announced seven new members today: Crystal Decisions, INEA Corp., MIS AG, MJM Consultant Corp., Panorama Software Systems, SAP AG and Silvon Software Inc., giving the council a total of 27 members..."

  • [October 8, 2002] "Relating to OLAP. OLAP and ROLAP Are a Continuum, Not Competitors." By Joy Mundy, edited by Ralph Kimball. In Intelligent Enterprise (October 8, 2002). "Virtually all data warehouses use a relational data store. As a relational designer until a few years ago, I assumed that online analytic processing (OLAP) was merely a technology for small-scale applications. I now believe that perception is outdated and will become only more so as OLAP servers evolve to be a major component of the data warehouse... Desktop OLAP is useful but not very scalable. Server-side OLAP, where the tool issues a non-SQL query against a much larger remote data store, is more scalable and supports deeper analytics than its desktop cousins. Four products -- Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, Hyperion Essbase in its various incarnations, Oracle Express, and MicroStrategy -- dominate this market, along with a dozen or so smaller players. An OLAP server enables intuitive data browsing and querying, supports analytic complexity, and provides great query performance through transparent navigation of pre-computed aggregations. The requirement to support analytic complexity on the server implies a language other than SQL, such as MDX or Calc Scripts. The most effective designs store the definition of these complex calculations on the server, where they're transparently available to all users. The recommended architecture for most purposes feeds the OLAP server from a dimensional data warehouse in the relational DBMS. If OLAP technology delivers complex analytics and great query performance, why doesn't it dominate the market? The main reasons are market fragmentation, scalability, price, and flexibility. Market fragmentation has ill-served the customer. Until recently there has been no agreement even on client-access APIs. This situation is changing with the recent widespread adoption of XML for Analysis by most of the OLAP server market..."

  • [September 17, 2002] "Access to Intelligence: The New OLAP APIs." By George Spofford. In Intelligent Enterprise (September 17, 2002). ['New choices are emerging for programmatic access to analytic information, but the underlying plumbing is what may be most exciting.'] "In this article, I'll discuss two up-and-coming APIs for accessing OLAP-related information. One, XML for Analysis (XML/A), is already at version 1.0 and will be entering version 1.1 in the near future. The other, Java OLAP Interface (JOLAP), is currently working its way through the Java Community Process, having been in public review stage from June 20 to July 19, 2002... XML/A is a simple object access protocol (SOAP)-based API derived from, and encompassing, Microsoft's ODBO. It includes SOAP and the entirety of ODBO as its main related specifications and adds SOAP actions and XML schemas for the ODBO data structures, with a few enhancements. SOAP provides the logical mechanism for transmitting a client request to a server and retrieving information. There are only two SOAP actions a client may make: Discover (to retrieve metadata) and Execute (to issue DDL or DML). Being based on SOAP, there is latitude for providers to use a variety of transports for communication, but HTTP is likely to be the one supported by the most vendors of XML/A providers. Also, like HTTP, XML/A is designed to be stateless, with a minimalist and lightweight approach to handling sessions. By virtue of its basis in ODBO, many of the OLAP aspects of XML/A will be familiar to developers who already use ODBO. The same MDX dimensional modeling language is used for queries and DDL, for example, and the same essential data structures are used for representing tables of OLAP metadata. XML/A itself occupies a lower level than ODBO, as an XML string by itself still needs parsing to become a data structure that resembles ODBO data structures. A DOM object representation of a query result or metadata set resembles the data structures of ODBO. Most developers who use ODBO today use Microsoft's ADO MD library because it provides simpler, high-level access. Microsoft will introduce versions of ADO MD for XML/A as well..."

  • [May 16, 2001] XML for Analysis SDK. From MSDN. ['Download the SDK that provides for universal data access to analytical data sources residing over the Web, without the need to deploy a client component that exposes COM interfaces.'] "XML for Analysis SDK: msxainst.exe is a self-extracting download that contains the Microsoft XML for Analysis provider and sample client applications. The Microsoft XML for Analysis Provider supports data access to analytical data sources (OLAP and data mining) residing on the Web. This provider implements the XML for Analysis Specification, which provides for universal data access to analytical data sources residing over the Web, without the need to deploy a client component that exposes COM interfaces. The Microsoft Analysis Services server can be accessed with the provided download, from the web, without any COM components on the client..."

  • The OLAP Report project

  • MS Beta version

  • "Microsoft Delivers First XML-Based Protocol for Cross-Platform Analytics."

  • [April 08, 2002] "Microsoft, Hyperion Welcome SAS as Co-Chair on XML for Analysis Council. Industry Leaders Further Bolster XML for Analysis to Accelerate Deployment Of Web Services in Business Intelligence." - "Today at the National Association of Broadcasters event, NAB2002, Hyperion Solutions Corp., Microsoft Corp. and SAS Institute Inc. announced today that SAS has joined Microsoft and Hyperion as a co-chair on the XML for Analysis (XML/A) Council. The XML/A Council was formed in April 2001 to develop and define specifications that enable the easy deployment of sophisticated, analytically rich business intelligence (BI) solutions. XML for Analysis is an open-standards-based messaging interface designed specifically for online analytical processing (OLAP) and data-mining functions. This interface will promote the standardization of the data access interaction between a client application and business intelligence systems and other applications over the Web and in distributing environments. These benefits enable businesses to develop and deploy Web-service-based business intelligence solutions more quickly and easily, as well as integrate diverse applications in today's information technology environments. SAS was previously a contributing member of the council, and its participation in a leadership role offers additional expertise in advanced analytics for the development of the XML for Analysis Specification. To date, the council has issued beta and version 1 releases of the specification. SAS' increased level of involvement in the XML for Analysis Council, along with the contributions of other data-mining vendors ANGOSS Software Corp. and SPSS Inc., illustrates the increased emphasis of data-mining in analytic Web services. Current contributing council members include Alphablox Corp., Applied OLAP Inc., Applix Inc., arcplan Information Services AG, Aspirity LLC, Brio Software Inc., Business Objects SA, Cognos Corp., Comshare Inc., Crystal Decisions, Dimensional Systems, Harmony Software Inc., Lawson Software, MicroStrategy Inc., ProClarity Corp., Simba Technologies Inc. and Temtec... XML for Analysis will enable application developers to incorporate business intelligence into their Web services or distributed computing applications by supporting standard-based protocols such as XML, SOAP and HTTP. The specification does the following: (1) Creates a much-needed standard interface to provide reliable access to business data over the Web to devices on any platform; (2) Allows transfer access between OLAP and data-mining services, which elevates the role of data-mining within the scope of the specification; (3) Enables applications developed in any programming language and running on any platform to access data from any place on the Web. The efforts of the XML/A Council will extend the widespread adoption of business intelligence solutions by enabling a broader access of timely business information to users everywhere..." See the XML for Analysis (XMLA) web site.

  • [April 08, 2002] "Microsoft Pushes Data Mining in Business Intelligence Protocol." By Paul Krill. In InfoWorld (April 08, 2002). "Looking to promote access to data mining functions via a Web services computing paradigm, SAS will take a co-chairmanship with Microsoft and Hyperion on the XML for Analysis Council, named for a protocol intended to provide an industry-standard messaging interface for accessing business intelligence functions. But an Oracle official charged the effort is Microsoft-proprietary. Hyperion, Microsoft, and SAS plan to announce the new co-chairmanship on Monday in an effort to boost data mining in the XML for Analysis Protocol, which is being designed for access to business intelligence applications, such as OLAP, from databases and other applications such as ERP, message brokers, and portals... XML for Analysis is a SOAP-based XML API for standardizing data access between clients and a data provider over the Web, according to Microsoft. Eventually, the protocol will be submitted as a potential industry standard to an organization such as the W3C, said Sheryl Tullis, product Manager for Microsoft SQL Server, in Redmond, Wash. Version 1.0 of the specification was released a year ago. A draft update to the specification is anticipated shortly... A Microsoft spokesperson rejected Shimp's claims, saying XML for Analysis is for access to diverse data sources, not just Microsoft sources. More than 20 companies have joined the council while Oracle declined an invitation to participate in the effort, the spokesperson said. Hyperion and SAS actually are in both the XML for Analysis and JOLAP camps. A Hyperion official, John Poole, who holds the corporate title of distinguished software engineer, is even chairing the JOLAP committee formed to develop that specification, said Hyperion's Ragnar Edholm, director of strategy and planning, in Sunnyvale, California JOLAP is for Java programmers while XML for Analysis is similar to SQL and can be used in multiple programming languages..."

  • [April 08, 2002] "Microsoft Revamps Specification for Web Searches." By Wylie Wong. In CNET (April 08, 2002). "Microsoft is revising a data access specification that will allow companies to more easily search databases on the Web. The software kingpin on Monday plans to announce a new version of XML for Analysis, a specification intended to offer better support for data mining and Web services applications. To help with the effort, Microsoft also is to announce that SAS Institute, which specializes in data mining technology, has joined the project. Microsoft, along with Hyperion Solutions, a specialty company focused on data analysis software, created XML for Analysis last year. The specification uses the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), a technology used in Web services, to let Web browser-based programs access back-end data sources for data analysis. The specification allows companies to build online analytical processing (OLAP) and data mining applications that work over the Web. OLAP and data mining are similar operations that entail searching databases for information to compile reports, such as how products are selling in a particular region or on a given date, and for analyzing business data to discover patterns and trends. XML for Analysis is meant to re-create for the Web existing corporate network-based data access specifications. Two older specifications, ODBC and OLE DB, backed by Microsoft and supported by the rest of the computing industry, were created in the 1990s as a standard way of accessing databases from client-based programs. ODBC works mostly with relational databases; OLE DB works with multiple data types, including text, video and data. Both specifications were aimed at programs working on local corporate networks, not the Internet. To address that limitation, Microsoft and its partners built XML for Analysis. The coalition of companies on Monday will announce plans to revise the specification within the next year and submit it to an industry standards body. Microsoft did not specify which standards body it will work with..." See the XML for Analysis (XMLA) web site and the announcement: "Microsoft, Hyperion Welcome SAS as Co-Chair on XML for Analysis Council. Industry Leaders Further Bolster XML for Analysis to Accelerate Deployment Of Web Services in Business Intelligence." Other references: (1) "XML for Analysis"; (2) Java OLAP Interface (JOLAP), JSR 69.

  • [August 31, 2001] "XML for Analysis Decoded." By Seth Grimes (Alta Plana Corp.). In Intelligent Enterprise Volume 4, Number 13 (August 31, 2001), pages 20-22, 50. ['The XML for Analysis API has snared widespread support. But will the big fish slip through the .Net in favor of Java and proprietary APIs?'] "Now computing technologies typically bring forth a torrent of buzzwords, acronyms, and jargon. Extensible markup language (XML) is now: It has been hyped as a data-interchange panacea and is a key component in industry battles for 'Web services' ascendancy. One of its dialects, XML for Analysis, is the subject of this column. Brace yourself... Web services platforms like Microsoft's .Net initiative are built on XML, the simple object access protocol (SOAP), Web services description language (WSDL), and universal description, discovery, and integration (UDDI). A UDDI directory catalogs services, most with WSDL descriptions of the services' locations and protocols. These services would, in turn, be accessed over SOAP, which is a masterpiece of simplicity and usefulness: a channel for supporting remote procedure calls (RPCs) over the applications protocol that binds the Web, HTTP. Some platforms, notably BEA System's WebLogic, iPlanet, and IBM's WebSphere, support both J2EE and SOAP... Object linking and embedding (OLE) is a mechanism for software-component interoperability within Microsoft's proprietary COM. OLE DB for OLAP is tied to the COM platform, which even Microsoft admits is ill-suited to distributed object computing over the Internet. Microsoft is replacing COM with the .Net Web-services strategy; XML for Analysis is .Net's interface for analytic services. Hyperion joined Microsoft's initiative soon after the release of the beta specification last fall and cosponsored the recently issued 1.0 release. Twenty-two other software vendors endorsed the specification. Notably absent were BI heavyweights IBM, Oracle, and SAS Institute and metadata master Informatica... XML for Analysis is more than a set of press releases, but it's also far from shipping in commercial client tools or analytic databases. Microsoft has released a software development kit (SDK) for the Visual Studio.Net development environment, which itself is slated to ship later this year, but it's likely that an XML for Analysis enabled database won't ship before next year and that few third-party client tools will ship before mid-2002... XML for Analysis will compete not only with mature, highly functional programmatic APIs that have been widely implemented by software vendors, it will also compete with the emerging Java OLAP (JOLAP) API. Hyperion is the JOLAP specification lead within the Java Community Process. Expert group members include IBM and Oracle - the leading data-management vendors, both heavily invested in Java and XML and promoting application-server-centric architectures - and SAS Institute. According to the Java Specification Request, JOLAP will 'provide a standard API for creating, storing, accessing, and managing all metadata and data related to OLAP systems ... independent of the underlying data resource.' At first blush, this sounds like the justification for XML for Analysis, but in fact JOLAP's data and metadata management capabilities aren't found in the XML API and, unlike XML for Analysis, JOLAP will provide a single data-manipulation and query language. In an AlphaBlox press release, company founder Michael Skok stresses that 'a company's analytical infrastructure must integrate with its J2EE-compliant application servers ... for optimal performance, scalability, reliability, and security.' Skok spoke at the same Hyperion conference that launched the XML for Analysis specification, which his company endorsed, yet while praising JOLAP's approach (although not naming it), he had nothing public to say about the XML API. I'd infer that vendors like AlphaBlox, Hyperion, and SAS Institute - and perhaps Oracle - are holding back on a more ringing JOLAP endorsement because enabled products will take even longer to reach market than products that implement XML for Analysis. OASIS, the XML coordinating body, allows standards developers more freedom than the Java Community Process, which regulates JOLAP development, and JOLAP is more comprehensive than XML for Analysis..."

  • [April 23, 2001] Commentary: OLAP API wars "Microsoft announced XML for Analysis in late 2000, and Hyperion publicly added its support on April 23, 2001. This Microsoft-led specification had already gained wide acceptance from vendors who already supported OLE DB for OLAP, but Hyperion was the first major competitor of Microsoft's to join the group. This was not just a paper endorsement: Hyperion and Microsoft had been working together for almost six months before the announcement, and Microsoft has adjusted the specification based on input from Hyperion. In contrast, Hyperion has always shunned OLE DB for OLAP which it regarded as Windows-specific. XML for Analysis is evolved from Microsoft's OLE DB for OLAP and has many similarities, but unlike OLE DB for OLAP it is not tied to any particular client or server platforms. It can be used not only for Web queries, but also for server to server communications. It does look like XML for Analysis will soon become the most widely accepted multi-vendor OLAP query API, but it will not replace native APIs because it cannot be as efficient. XML has a large overhead that means that queries will be slower and network traffic greater than if optimized programmatic APIs were used. So vendors like Microsoft and Hyperion will continue to maintain their native APIs, which will remain the preferred choice when performance is an issue..."

  • [April 23, 2001] "Microsoft, Hyperion Preach XML-based OLAP Querying Specification." By Tom Sullivan. In InfoWorld (April 23, 2001). "Microsoft and Hyperion Solutions have teamed up on the Open XML for Analysis specification, officials from the two companies announced on Monday at Hyperion's Solutions 2001 conference in Orlando, Fla. The specification, according to the companies, will enable client-side, Web-based BI (business intelligence) applications to query OLAP (online analytical processing) servers from Microsoft, Hyperion, and any other vendors supporting the specification, without having to use several APIs. Right now, there is no standard language for accessing OLAP cubes, according to Mark Shainman, an analyst at Meta Group in Stamford, Conn. Vendors such as SAS Institute, Cognos, and Brio have proprietary methods for interacting with OLAP cubes... The Open XML for Analysis specification has the potential to reduce the number of languages that programmers typically have to write to for reaching OLAP cubes from five or six to just one, Shainman said... Currently, the specification has the support of several front-end BI vendors, including AlphaBlox Software, Brio Technology, Business Objects, Cognos, Crystal Decisions, Knosys, MicroStrategy, and SAP. . . In May, Microsoft will post an SDK (software development kit) on its Web site as an add-on to the SQL Server 2000 database, Eng said. The technology is likely to become incorporated into the vendors' offerings, rather than a standalone product, Hyperion's Gersten said. 'It will become a key part of our OLAP access technologies,' he continued. The companies said that they plan to submit the specification, which is currently available on their respective Web pages, to a standards body in approximately six months, although they have yet to decide which one."

  • [March 02, 2001] "Microsoft Releases XML Kit, Specification." By Margret Johnston. In InfoWorld (March 02, 2001). Microsoft On Friday released a beta version of its XML for Analysis software development kit and an updated XML for Analysis protocol specification, giving developers tools needed to write XML-based applications aimed at spurring the deployment of sophisticated analytical databases across multiple platforms. XML for Analysis is a new online analytical processing protocol that enables the transfer of information between analytical databases and client applications, regardless of the language used to write the application, Microsoft said in a release. It leverages not only the open Internet standard XML but also SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and HTTP. The new protocol is designed to standardize the data access interaction between a client application and an analytical data provider such as OLAP (online analytical processing) and data mining. More than 50 industry-leading vendors contributed to XML for Analysis, which Microsoft described as a vendor- and platform-independent extension to its OLEDB (object linking and embedding database) for OLAP and OLEDB for Data Mining protocols. With the release of XML for Analysis, developers are able to add analytic capabilities to any client for any device or platform using any major programming language, Microsoft said." See the announcement: "Microsoft Delivers First XML-Based Protocol for Cross-Platform Analytics."

  • [December 07, 2000] "Microsoft Unveils Protocol for Internet Data Mining." By Tom Sullivan. In InfoWorld (December 06, 2000). "A new XML-based data access protocol released Wednesday enables developers to provide data analysis to a variety of clients and development platforms. XML for Analysis, which is being spearheaded by Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, is a protocol that enables application developers to build BI (business intelligence) into .NET Web services, according to John Eng, lead product manager for SQL Server at Microsoft. As the evolution of OLE DB for OLAP (online analytical processing) and OLE DB for Data Mining, the protocol provides access to Microsoft data sources, Eng added, as well as supporting Web-based data mining. "What we've tried to do with .NET is extend sources to the Web, and this makes it easier to access information across the Web," Eng said. Although XML for Analysis can be used to access only Microsoft data sources, Eng said that developers can get at that information from any language that adheres to Internet standards, such as Visual Basic, C++, or Java. Analysts said that Web-based services are on the rise, and that will lead to the need for accessing analytic databases across the Internet." See 'Microsoft Releases XML for Analysis Specification'

  • [December 07, 2000] "XML Will Open Up Microsoft Databases." By Aaron Ricadela and Rick Whiting. In CMP TechWeb (December 07, 2000). "Microsoft is replacing proprietary database protocols with the XML standard to better position its SQL Server database for next-generation Internet applications. The company is adding new interfaces based on XML to its OLE DB for OLAP protocol from next spring, taking effect when Microsoft releases its XML for Analysis APIs. This will allow the SQL Server database to take advantage of emerging applications that let users pull and publish data over the Internet. Microsoft Corp. posted a beta version of the specification Wednesday at SQL Server 7 and the new SQL Server 2000 package together relational and multidimensional databases. Today, software developers employ OLE DB for OLAP, and its OLE DB for data-mining extension, to build analytical applications that query the multidimensional database and conduct analytical chores. But those sets of APIs require client-analysis software to pass messages to SQL Server in a format called Multidimensional Expression, a proprietary Microsoft protocol. Multidimensional Expression isn't an Internet protocol, and is, therefore, unsuited to apps that query servers outside a company's firewall, people familiar with the technology say. That's a hindrance for IT shops building business-to-business apps that require sharing market data or inventory information, without the headache of letting outsiders inside their firewalls. "The brass tacks on this is we're all going to run our analytical apps over the Internet, and the language these apps will use to communicate with their data sources will be XML," said Clay Young, vice president of marketing at OLAP software vendor Knosys Inc. "Although Microsoft certainly has a big influence, they don't own XML. It's an interesting shift'." See 'Microsoft Releases XML for Analysis Specification'

  • [December 07, 2000] "Microsoft releases XML for Analysis beta." By Jennifer DiSabatino. In ComputerWorld (December 07, 2000). "Hoping to create an industry standard governing the transfer of information between different databases for use in data-mining applications, Microsoft Corp. yesterday announced the release of the beta specification for XML for Analysis. 'It will certainly be one of the standards,' said Mike Schiff, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc. in Sterling, Va. 'Of course, the problem with standards is the 's' at the end.' XML for Analysis is an extension to Microsoft's OLE Database (OLE DB) for online analytical processing and OLE DB for data mining. Microsoft said developers from about 50 companies were involved in reviewing the specification before it was released. Details can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site. The new protocol is also part of Microsoft's .Net initiative, a middleware layer that allows applications and services written in different development languages to run on a Common Language Runtime environment. XML for Analysis uses HTTP, XML and Simple Object Access Protocol Internet standards, according to yesterday's announcement. XML for Analysis involves defining tags embedded in files, so different types of programs can read information created by other programs. The tool is intended to help business partners share information over the Internet. This beta release isn't Microsoft-centric, Schiff said, but Microsoft competitors such like IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Oracle Corp. may not necessarily buy into Microsoft's proposal. None of these companies was one of the partners announced in the release. While the standards still need to be ironed out, Schiff said, this is a start. 'A standard with one [company] is proprietary,' he said. 'A standard with 50 [companies] has some traction. They're preparing the industry for this'." See 'Microsoft Releases XML for Analysis Specification'

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