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XML for Analysis Council Takes on Data Mining

A group of vendors, including Microsoft Corp., working on making data analysis tools available as Web services expanded their work to include data mining.

Microsoft and Hyperion, the two companies with the biggest market share in online analytical processing (OLAP), have been working together as co-chairs of the XML for Analysis Council since forming it in April 2001.

This week, the council added data mining heavyweight SAS Institute Inc. as a co-chair as the work expands to include data mining.

The three companies, along with about 20 member companies, are trying to create a standards-based messaging interface for OLAP and data-mining functionality. The work is similar to the ODBC and OLE DB standards of the last decade.

However, the ODBC and OLE DB specifications typically involved sharing of data among servers, clients and applications behind a firewall. The XML for Analysis specification would allow applications to pass data across the Web.

Once the work on the specification is complete, it will be handed up to an established standards body such as the W3C, says Sheryl Tullis, product manager for Microsoft SQL Server.

Kevin Payne, SAS' director of the Microsoft partner program, says the group is hoping to get a specification into the pipeline sometime in 2003.

Notably absent from the XML for Analysis Council are database giants Oracle Corp. and IBM Corp. Oracle has thrown its weight behind the JOLAP standard for multi-dimensional data access.

But Ragnar Edholm, director of strategy and plans for Hyperion, notes that IBM is not entirely absent from the process.

"IBM is OEMing Hyperion technology for their multi-dimensional database," Edholm says. "We're working with Oracle on the JOLAP standard, and we'll see what they do later."

Edholm, meanwhile, sees advantages to having OLAP vendors work with data mining vendors on a specification. "Currently there are very few data mining vendors that actually work with MDD. This will help with that," Edholm says.

About the Author

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

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