The industry split over rival Olap technologies intensified this week when Seagate Software announced its decision to leave the Olap Council and support a rival would-be standard from Microsoft.
The move followed Microsoft?s release of the beta version of its Tensor application programming interface (API) earlier this month (see Newswire 9 September). This is based on online analytical processing (Olap) software acquired at the start of the year with Panorama Software, and Microsoft aims to make it a de facto standard - bringing it into collision with the Olap Council's own specifications.
Although Microsoft's new API so far works only in the Windows NT world, the giant managed to recruit 18 Olap suppliers at the launch to bang the drum, with the noticeable exception of market leaders Oracle, which was not invited to participate, and Arbor Software, which declined the invitation.
Both are members of the Olap Council, which many industry observers now claim is dead in the wake of the Microsoft move. The Council has promised for some time to release an API of its own that both ISVs and developers can write their applications to, but has so far failed to deliver the goods.
As a result, Microsoft has used its traditional tactics of taking advantage of a gap in the market in order to move in and attempt to control it.
The decision of Seagate to leave the Council, hot on the heels of Comshare, which quit in April, is a disaster in public relations terms, appearing to weaken the position of the organisation still further.
David Brocklebank, Seagate?s marketing director, explained: ?Our decision to leave is a mixture of the fact that the API developed by the Olap Council never reached general acceptance and we never supported it. The Olap Council helped to increase market awareness, but it could never really agree on what an API should achieve because of vested interests pulling in all directions.?
He continued: ?It seems better to support the Microsoft API because of Microsoft?s power in the market. There are no other APIs out there, but we?re not standardising on Microsoft across the board. Microsoft would obviously love this to become the standard interface, but we will support others if they become available.?
But, both Oracle and Arbor remained united in their stance against the software giant.
Chris Hill, Arbor?s European marketing director, said: ?Seagate?s departure doesn?t strengthen the Olap Council. It will cause it some damage, but it?s not fatal. There are still lots of other members. We don?t see any reason to support Microsoft?s API - our product demands more than an NT API, and we have to stand out because we?ve got our own, which is supported by more than 50 other software vendors. We believe it is also becoming a de facto standard.?
John Watton, Oracle?s Olap marketing manager, explained that the database supplier was not prepared to support a proprietary API that was unable to leverage its technology.
?Microsoft's API can?t take advantage of our technology. It isn?t extensible, is geared towards a product that won?t be released for a year and is a very limited API. People will jump on the Microsoft bandwaggon and are already taking sides, but Microsoft never chose to join the Council and is causing divisions by going its own way,? he added.
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