Microsoft says OLE for Data Mining: Is it Bull?

  • Written By: M. Reed
  • Published: March 28 2000


Event Summary

"REDMOND, Wash., March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced the beta release of the OLE DB for Data Mining specification, a protocol based on the SQL language, that provides software vendors and application developers with an open interface to more efficiently integrate data mining tools and capabilities into line-of-business and e-commerce applications.

A dozen leading data mining and business intelligence vendors announced their support for the new protocol, which will enable diverse data mining products to more easily exchange data and results and allow developers to more easily incorporate data mining technology into existing data warehousing solutions. Supporting vendors include 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."

"Release of the OLE DB for Data Mining specification is a significant milestone on the path to much wider use of predictive and descriptive analytic models by commercial applications," Stephen Brobst, chief technology officer, Teradata Solutions Group, NCR. "NCR strongly supports this initiative to provide standard mechanisms for deploying analytic models obtained from a variety of sources. We expect significant use of OLE DB for Data Mining Provider Services by our CRM solutions and application products."

"OLE DB for Data Mining has been under vendor review and modification since its introduction last May at Tech*Ed '99 and now incorporates the Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML) standards from the Data Mining Group, an industry consortium that facilitates the creation of useful standards for the data mining community. PMML is an XML-based language that provides a quick and easy way for organizations to define and share data mining models between compliant vendors' applications."

Market Impact

Microsoft is joining a vendor consortium that is proposing a standard in PMML, which may be supported by many vendors, but will be ignored by serious Microsoft competitors such as Oracle. Another conspicuous absence from the list of supporting vendors is the SAS Institute, which is one of the key vendors in the data mining arena with their Enterprise Miner product.

Microsoft has had considerable success in enforcing their standards on the marketplace, and it remains to be seen whether they will succeed again. We believe that in order for this effort to succeed, a broader vendor coalition needs to be created, with active participation by vendors such as SAS and Oracle. If this effort is not widely adopted within 6 months, it will not succeed.

The idea behind the specification is interesting, involving a data mining model (DMM) which, unlike a standard relational table, stores the patterns discovered by the data mining algorithm, instead of the raw data. This approach may take on greater importance in the marketplace, as data mining becomes more widespread.

User Recommendations

Customers evaluating data mining solutions for their data warehouse should investigate PMML and its potential for widespread acceptance. OLE DB is a proprietary Microsoft standard, which conflicts with standards from bodies such as the OMG (Object Management Group). Customers should be wary of this new standard and make sure that it interacts effectively with other database and business intelligence products they are considering. However, existing Microsoft customers may be able to leverage this technology in a short timeframe.

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