Microsoft Releases Specification for Universal OLAP Data Access

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 9, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced public availability of its beta specification of a new set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that provide software vendors and application developers with an open interface to efficiently access and manipulate online analytical processing (OLAP) data. The new APIs are called OLE DB for OLAP, a development project previously code-named “Tensor.” OLAP technology provides key data storage and analysis functions for data-warehouse applications. Eighteen software vendors and application developers have announced support for this specification. Widespread adoption of it will give customers more choices of OLAP products, easier access to information, and lower product development and deployment costs.

An open specification designed with widespread industry participation, OLE DB for OLAP benefits both user and IT decision-support activities. The specification is designed to link multidimensional data providers and consumers regardless of location or type.

OLE DB for OLAP to Enhance Microsoft’s Data Warehouse Strategy

A key element of Microsoft’s Data Warehouse strategy, which has Microsoft SQL Server
™
at its core, is to make the benefits of data warehousing widely accessible. The strategy has enabled many businesses to fully utilize their information assets. OLE DB for OLAP enhances this strategy by laying the foundation for change from an OLAP arena that today is dominated by complex, proprietary and expensive solutions to one that offers more choice and flexibility. Any OLAP client product that uses this set of APIs can access every OLAP data source that exposes the APIs. Customers benefit from a broader choice of applications that are easier and less expensive to integrate. In addition, a standard API removes the cost of building and maintaining custom interfaces to support interoperability between products.

“We expect OLE DB for OLAP to play a significant role in the way applications access OLAP data industrywide,” said David Vaskevitch, vice president of the personal and business systems group at Microsoft. “Businesses are increasingly deploying OLAP technology to provide them with the sophisticated analysis tools required for high-end decision support. Adoption of a standard interface to access such data reduces barriers for the developer attempting to deploy integrated data-analysis solutions. The goal of the OLAP extensions is to use the various sources of OLAP data in a consistent and efficient way.”

Broad Industry Support

Some of the strongest contributors to the OLAP market have announced their support for OLE DB for OLAP. These vendors represent many facets of the data warehousing spectrum, so their support is indicative of the impact expected from OLE DB for OLAP. They include Andyne Computing Ltd., AppSource Corp., Brio Technology, Business Objects SA, Cognos, Comshare, Gentia Software, Hyperion Software, International Software Group, IQ Software Corp., Knosys, NCR Corp., Panorama Software Systems Ltd., Pilot Software, SAS Institute, Seagate Software, Simba Technologies and WhiteLight Systems.

“SAS Institute is proud to announce intended support for OLE DB for OLAP,” said Mark Moorman, product manager for business intelligence at SAS Institute. “The lack of a standard API has limited the growth of OLAP-based applications to what each vendor could do in-house. With a standard API, we can more effectively support our large customer base by incorporating existing tools into our complete OLAP architecture. Extending the functionality of our solutions to include tools from a large and growing group of vendors will ultimately benefit the customer most.”

“Business Objects will natively support access to Microsoft’s OLE DB for OLAP from its flagship product, BusinessObjects, the first integrated query, reporting and OLAP tool,” said Gayle Pietras, manager of worldwide partner alliances at Business Objects. “The ability to combine data sources is particularly valuable in enterprisewide deployments of decision support systems where people have many types of data as well as various levels of users.”

“Cognos has announced it will support Microsoft’s OLE DB for OLAP,” said Paul Hill, director of partner development at Cognos. “Cognos support means that OLE DB for OLAP will be compatible with the world’s largest installed base of OLAP-based client software. With OLE DB’s robust data-handling capabilities, the specification will add important new data-source support to Cognos’ PowerPlay OLAP software.”

Availability

Both the OLE DB SDK and the OLE DB for OLAP specification are available for downloading free from Microsoft’s Web site (connect-time charges may apply) at http://www.microsoft.com/data/oledb/ . Microsoft invites comments on this specification and requests that they be submitted by Oct. 6, 1997, to e-mail address oledbinf@microsoft.com. The specification is due for final release in fall 1997. An SDK that includes OLE DB for OLAP and a sample provider exposing these interfaces is scheduled to be available in fall 1997.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

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