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Microsoft Puts Data Mining Specification into Beta

Microsoft Corp. opened the beta testing phase today for its OLE DB for Data Mining specification, a key precursor to the release of SQL Server 2000 with its built-in data mining functionality.

OLE DB for Data Mining is an interface for integrating data mining tools and capabilities into line-of-business and e-commerce applications. The new protocol based on the Structured Query Language (SQL) common to relational databases is designed to make it easier for business users to leverage the power of data mining – previously the exclusive domain of statistically sophisticated analysts.

The specification is similar in concept to the OLE DB for OLAP specification released in advance of SQL Server 7.0’s release. Just as Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) built an OLAP server into SQL Server 7.0, the company is building data mining capabilities and interfaces code-named “Aurum,” which is Latin for gold, into SQL Server 2000.

Industry analysts and Microsoft itself aren’t expecting inclusion of data mining to generate as much industry buzz as OLAP did. Data mining tools tend to be much more difficult to understand and use effectively than OLAP tools.

Primarily the data mining functionality is expected to be used in two ways with SQL Server 2000. Data mining tools vendors may prefer to use a relational database to store and prepare data before running it through data mining algorithms. Vertical ISVs may want to use the specification to build a specific data mining algorithm into an application, such as running a customer through an algorithm that would calculate whether the person is a good or bad credit risk.

Vendors lining up to support the specification included ANGOSS Software Corp., Appsource Corp., Comshare Inc., DB Miner Technology Inc., Knosys Inc., Magnify Inc., Megaputer Intelligence Inc., Maximal Innovative Intelligence Ltd., NCR Corp., PolyVista Inc. and SPSS Inc.

OLE DB for Data Mining was introduced in May at Tech*Ed ’99, and has been under vendor review and modification since then under non-disclosure agreements.

The new specification includes Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML) standards from the Data Mining Group (www.dmg.org ).

The beta specification for OLE DB for Data Mining is available at www.microsoft.com/data/oledb. It will be open for public review until May 15. – Scott Bekker

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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