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Microsoft Goes Their Own Way with Data Warehousing Alliance 2000

Written By: M. Reed
Published On: December 1 1999

Event Summary

"REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) today announced that 47 applications and tools from 39 top vendors throughout the industry have qualified for Microsoft Data Warehousing Alliance 2000. Alliance members and partners are committed to delivering tools and applications based on the Microsoft Data Warehousing Framework 2000, an open architecture for building business intelligence and analytical applications based on the open standards and services built into the Windows 2000 operating system, Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 and Office 2000. Application vendor membership for the Data Warehousing Alliance has more than doubled since it was originally announced in October 1998."

According to the release "organizations leveraging the framework and using alliance member products are better able to align local decision-making around key business drivers and harness the full potential of the web to win new customers, retain and extend customer relationships, and work more effectively with partners."

The architecture is based on OLE DB and the Open Information Model (OIM), in "recognition of the value and competitive advantage provided by the data warehousing services built into Microsoft products."

According to Microsoft, this technology is based on the Microsoft Data Warehousing Framework, which "is based on open, published protocols for interoperability and integrated end-to-end data warehousing services. It utilizes technologies provided in Microsoft Office 2000 and Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 products, and a partnership with Data Warehousing Alliance members for complementary tools and applications. The DWF enables data warehousing solutions where the data comes from virtually any source and where any type of information can be delivered to any compliant client interface or application."

Market Impact

Once again, Microsoft is using proprietary standards (OLE DB and OIM) to achieve its data warehousing goals. The more widely accepted standards are under the stewardship of the Object Management Group (OMG), which has over 800 members. OIM is a standard developed by Microsoft and turned over to the MetaData Council (MDC) which has "close to 50" members. For more information on the dueling standards bodies see "Is There Finally A Metadata Exchange Standard on the Horizon?", (http://technologyevaluation.com/news_analysis/09-99/NA_DW_MFR_9_28_99_1.asp,September 28, 1999). The alliance criteria require compliance with OLE DB for data access and the Open Information Model for sharing metadata. According to Colin White, president of DataBase Associates International Inc., "The Microsoft Data Warehousing Framework 2000 makes it easy to build Digital Dashboard applications integrating business intelligence, collaboration, and Web content right into the environment many knowledge workers live in: Outlook 2000."

This effort should make it easier for customers to integrate and use tools from multiple vendors, as long as their database is Microsoft's, and the other vendors are members of this alliance. The web component is to be provided by Microsoft's SQL Server 7.0, a component of the Windows DNA platform (Distributed interNet Architecture, introduced in 1997, Microsoft's umbrella term for its enterprise network architecture based on COM and Windows 2000 (NT 5.0)). The Windows DNA platform is advertised as "Microsoft's comprehensive platform for building Web applications."

We believe this will only serve to further fragment the data warehousing market. Obviously, Oracle is not a member of this alliance, and other applications show spotty representation. For example, in the enterprise resource planning space, Baan NV is represented, but SAP AG and PeopleSoft are not. In the area of supply chain analytics, the only vendor represented is Manuguistics Inc.

User Recommendations

We recommend that customers evaluate this solution cautiously, and only after the solution has been implemented numerous times and after interviews with reference accounts. Microsoft is notorious for the problems encountered in early releases of their software. This solution would possibly be appropriate for a highly Microsoft-centric company, but the alliance membership may not include the vendor a customer wishes to use for business intelligence, decision support, or executive information systems. Customers with non-SQL Server operational data will have to depend on SQL 7.0's Data Transformation Services (DTS) to move the data into SQL Server, and that particular technology is brand new and largely untested.

 
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