IBM, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and Hyperion Solutions banded together last week to create a Java-based platform-independent OLAP (online analytical processing) specification for creating and managing data in OLAP servers.
"The purpose is to bring OLAP into the mainstream Java developer community," said Tobin Gilman, director of product strategy at Hyperion.
In addition, one of the results of JOLAP (Java-based interface for OLAP) is to provide a choice other than Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp.'s OLE DB for OLAP technology, according to Lou Agosta, director of research for data warehousing at Giga Information Group (US).
"If your data happens to be in Oracle or DB2 OLAP, there's an alternative through Java," Agosta said. "JOLAP is an alternative model for companies that are not end-to-end Microsoft."
Microsoft itself has made significant efforts on the OLAP front in its SQL Server 2000 database, recently released to manufacturing; however, the company is notably absent from the list of JOLAP participants.
"We have no plans to make SQL Server compliant with JOLAP," said Jeff Ressler, Microsoft's product manager for SQL Server. "We've got our own effort in the marketplace, and it's part of our core product."
Ressler said 45 ISVs are building to OLE DB for OLAP. He continued that OLE DB for OLAP and JOLAP accomplish similar things.
Third-party developers, however, could build support for JOLAP to access SQL Server based on the interfaces exposed in the publicly available OLE DB for OLAP specification, Ressler added.
Meanwhile, several business intelligence vendors have already announced their support for JOLAP. Hyperion's Gilman said that vendors such as Mountain View, Calif.-based Alphablox and Business Objects are planning to jump on the bandwagon.
Dave Kellogg, senior vice president of marketing at Business Objects, based in San Jose, Calif., said that his company will adopt JOLAP to give customers access to Java features.
Such features include Java's portability, drag and drop, Java virtual machine security, and Java's capability to work on a locked desktop.
"Ultimately, we want to let customers talk to whatever databases they want," Kellogg said. "The more [data sources] there are, the better it is for business intelligence."
JOLAP will be developed through the Java Community Process, the process for developing Java specifications, reference implementations, and test suites.
The new specification is designed as a counterpart to the Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) API, and the Object Management Group's open standards specification for CWM (Common Warehouse Metamodel), which provides interoperability between data warehousing and tools, applications, and repositories.
The final specification for JOLAP is scheduled to be finished in June 2001, according to Paul Oh, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems' market segment manager for data warehousing.