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olap4j: A New Open Standard For Analytics?

Agile methodology Business Intelligence (BI) player Pentaho Corporation has come to market with version 1.0 of olap4j, an open Java API said introduce a new standard that enables deployment upon any Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) server. In the absence of a standard Java API for OLAP servers, Pentaho is aiming to be recognized for its work towards open standards and interoperability with this new offering.

Julian Hyde, chief architect of Pentaho Analysis and founder of the Mondrian open source OLAP server, initiated the olap4j project in 2006 as a collaboration between vendors and individuals in the open source and BI communities. As an extension to the industry-standard JDBC (Java DataBase Connectivity) 4.0 specification, olap4j is described as "immediately familiar" to any Java developer with experience in database programming. Pentaho says that olap4j fits into an organization's data infrastructure, leveraging standard Java services such as connection pools, driver management, and directory services.

According to an official product statement, "The olap4j open specification encourages software innovation and freedom of choice for users. Unlike traditional, proprietary OLAP APIs that only work on a given OLAP server, olap4j 1.0 provides a stable and consistent means to integrate with any backend OLAP server that supports the standard. New applications built on olap4j will have a variety of OLAP engines available to power it, letting users choose which is best suited for their needs."

In addition to Pentaho, other organizations that have contributed to the olap4j initiative include:

  • SQL Power Group -- makers of Wabit, an ad hoc query and analysis tool built using olap4j
  • Jedox -- the commercial company behind Palo, an open-source OLAP server that supports olap4j
  • Matrix CPM Solutions -- creators of Advanced Analysis Services (ADANS), an open-source analysis tool that uses olap4j
  • Saiku -- a community-led open-source analysis viewer that uses olap4j
  • Aschauer EDV GMBH -- a certified Pentaho Partner who extended the olap4j XML/A driver to talk to SAP BW

"The olap4j open specification demonstrates the benefits of open collaboration between well-motivated parties. Unlike similar initiatives in the past by the large proprietary vendors, olap4j truly personifies the term 'open' as it enables end users to integrate with any backend OLAP server that supports the standard," said James Dixon, chief geek and CTO, Pentaho Corporation.

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