Microsoft Offers XML-Based Protocol For Extending Business Intelligence to Web Services

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 6, 2000 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the release of the beta specification for XML for Analysis — a new protocol that extends the Microsoft business intelligence strategy to the Microsoft® .NET vision of Web services, allowing application developers to provide analytic capabilities to any client on any device or platform using any programming language. Built on HTTP, XML and SOAP and with more than 50 industry players having been instrumental in its development, XML for Analysis is being hailed by developers of analytical tools as the first cross-platform solution designed to address the unique challenges of analytical data access and manipulation.

As an extension to OLE DB for OLAP and OLE DB for Data Mining, XML for Analysis uses the Internet as the platform for building analytical applications from diverse sources of data, thus enabling developers to provide better Web services for analytic data. Corporations can now allow trading partners, customers and suppliers to access data easily and securely over the Web without worrying about client operating system, application language or middleware compatibility issues.

“Web-based services for e-business are definitely on the rise, and — in terms of business intelligence — this means accessing analytic databases hosted over the Internet,”
said Philip Russom, research director of business intelligence at Hurwitz Group.
“Microsoft’s XML for Analysis addresses this need with a protocol that’s based on Internet standards and optimized for interaction with Web services. Unlike newer attempts at a standard protocol, XML for Analysis is based on OLE DB for OLAP, which has seen almost three years of industry review, IT implementation and support by third-party analytic software. And it’s not just for OLAP; XML for Analysis also supports Web-based data mining.”

Business Intelligence for Everyone

XML for Analysis expands access to business intelligence by increasing the flexibility for developers to incorporate analytical data within applications that reside remotely on the Internet, or even those that are hosted by another company. Users can achieve a new level of pervasive data analysis because they have access to data from any client ranging from a PDA to an Internet-enabled phone, interactive TV device, laptop computer or PC.

“Business intelligence applications are expanding from ‘mahogany row’ onto the plant floor and the desktops of line managers in field offices,”
said Dan Bulos, president of Symmetry Corp., a leading OLAP consulting firm.
“These days, Web support is a requirement of any enterprisewide application. XML for Analysis is a big step forward for companies looking for a seamless transition from the old client/server paradigm to an interoperable Web-based analytical environment.”

Broad Industry Support for XML for Analysis

Over 100 developers and architects from more than 50 companies were involved in the review process of the XML for Analysis specification. These include Adaytum Inc., AlphaBlox Corp., Andersen Consulting, ANGOSS, Brio Technology Inc., Broadbase Software, Business Objects, Cognos Corp., Knosys Inc., Maximal Software Inc., PricewaterhouseCoopers, SAP Americas Inc., SAS Institute Inc., Seagate Software, SPSS Inc., Symmetry and Walker Interactive Systems Inc. Developer feedback was captured during a preview event held at the Microsoft campus in late October and via a newsgroup facility.

“Open standards like the Microsoft XML for Analysis protocol are a positive and timely development in the evolution of business intelligence,”
said Patrick O’Leary, vice president of strategic alliances at Cognos.
“Delivering solutions based on the XML for Analysis protocol will allow customers to accelerate deployment of sophisticated analytical solutions and Web services.”

XML for Analysis is a fully compatible advancement to the OLE DB for OLAP and OLE DB for Data Mining protocols. Thousands of applications developers, representing hundreds of third-party products currently using the existing OLE DB for OLAP and OLE DB for Data Mining standards, can quickly and easily upgrade to XML for Analysis.

“Knosys is pleased to support the XML for Analysis protocol, as it helps us achieve our goal of providing our customers with the most open, customizable analytic front-end platform available,”
said Clay Young, vice president of marketing for Knosys.
“Our development team had our products working with XML for Analysis in just a few days — demonstrating a well-thought-out approach on Microsoft’s part.”


The beta specification of XML for Analysis is now available for download at . A beta software development kit of XML for Analysis is planned to be available for download in early 2001, and final specification and software for XML for Analysis are scheduled to be available in the first half of 2001.

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