OLAP (on-line analytical processing) has definitely crossed the chasm in the technology adoption process. OLAP raises the business IQ, supporting fast analysis of data that has complex interrelationships. Because of OLAP's obvious business benefits, products in the OLAP marketplace have proliferated. The market is now maturing and the means to effectively implement multiple OLAP products has to sort itself out. In late January, the OLAP Council, which is comprised of most, if not all, of the significant OLAP vendors, announced a new version 2.0 of their standard application programming interface (API), the MDAPI (multidimensional API). This announcement was meant to establish an open standard between thin clients and servers for OLAP applications. A standard is needed to share information between various products. The OLAP Council's goal is a very good thing.

However, a race is about to be run, and the MDAPI is only one horse in the race. There are two others. Another racehorse at the gate is Microsoft's OLE DB for OLAP standard. And the third is the status quo, where there are a variety of proprietary APIs with no true standard. The race is about which standard for interoperability among OLAP applications will win out. Each racehorse has its pluses and minuses regarding its potential for winning the race.

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