Enemies Unite Against Microsoft

In a big move to fend off the influence of Microsoft Corp. in the OLAPmarket space, an unlikely group of vendors have teamed up to support a newJava-based interface for OLAP servers.

Initially proposed by Hyperion Solutions Corp. (www.hyperion.com), the new specification, known as JOLAP,was soon backed by IBM Corp. (www.ibm.com), Oracle Corp. (www.oracle.com), and Sun Microsystems Inc. (www.sun.com). Together, the four vendors are nowadvocating a standard for creating, storing, accessing, and managing data andmetadata in OLAP servers.

So why have these competitors come together to support one standard? Oneword: Microsoft. Despite the OLAP server competition between Hyperion andOracle, and the growing competition between Oracle and IBM in the databasemarket space, all three companies deemed it more important to unite againstMicrosoft (www.microsoft.com) than to fight for market share amongst eachother.

“The planned specification builds on the previous alliance forged byHyperion, IBM, and Oracle for the development of the OMG-ratified CWMspecification, and it shows the willingness of former archrivals to uniteagainst the Microsoft competitive threat,” says Mike Schiff, director of datawarehousing strategies at Current Analysis Inc. (www.currentanalysis.com).

Earlier this year, Microsoft sponsored a metadata standard called theOpen Information Model (OIM) that was submitted to the Metadata Coalition (MDC,www.mdcinfo.com). In late June, Hyperion, Oracle, and IBM joined others insupporting the Common Warehouse Metamodel (CWM) -- a proposed standard todefine metadata in the industry. This standard was submitted to the ObjectManagement Group Inc. (OMG, www.omg.org) and ratified. The ratification of theOracle-sponsored CWM represented a win for Oracle in the ongoing metadata warwith Microsoft.

Since Sun Microsystems is no friend of Microsoft either and has a vestedinterest in the success of the Java technology, it was natural that theinvolved parties would submit the specification to Sun’s Java Community Processprogram instead of to a neutral forum. With Sun on its team as well, the groupwould have a stronger force with which to fend off Microsoft.

But this is not the first time an OLAP interface standard has beenproposed. A failed attempt by the OLAP Council has many analysts wondering ifthese latest efforts will work.

“The JOLAP specification does not define an implementation strategy,leaving it up to individual vendors to determine if they will develop a nativeJOLAP API or JOLAP driver as an adjunct to their existing interface,” Schiffsays. “The specification is under development, so its adoption andimplementation is, at best, a future standard.”