IBM Cubing Services – MDX and ODBO – Excel Pivot Tables

May 29, 2008 facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail by in Business Intelligence   Data Warehouses   Multi-Dimensional Data Connectivity   OLAP   XML for Analysis  

In case you missed it, on May 6, IBM announced support for OLE DB for OLAP (ODBO) in their Cubing Services product.  You can read the official notice at http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/rep_ca/3/897/ENUS208-113/ENUS208-113.PDF.  DB2 Warehouse edition is now called InfoSphere Warehouse.

In October 2007, IBM shipped MDX Query Language support in this product.  However, you had to access the MDX functionality via a proprietary interface.  At the Information OnDemand conference in October 2007, IBM had a demo of Business Objects Voyager working with Cubing Services.  Voyager is an OLAP reporting tool from Business Objects which connects to MDX data sources.  Voyager works with Microsoft Analysis Services, SAP BW, and some of the Business Objects Performance Management applications.  It was nice to see Voyager working with Cubing Services, albeit using a proprietary API.  Now Cubing Services supports ODBO so it is possible to connect any ODBO client to Cubing Services.  I have not yet played with this new version of Cubing Services.  I hope to soon.

One thing I am told is that Microsoft Excel works with Cubing Services via ODBO and MDX.  However, IBM’s MDX Query Language implementation is what I call the MDX 1999 variant.  The MDX Language Specification is part of the OLE DB for OLAP Specification which Microsoft last published in 1999, therefore I call it MDX 1999.  Microsoft has of course added a lot of extensions to the MDX Query Language and the MDX supported by Microsoft Analysis Services 2005 is what I call MDX 2005.

Excel 2007 uses the MDX Query Language to connect to OLAP data sources.  Excel 2007 is an adaptive product – it will adapt to the MDX supported by the underlying data source.  Therefore, if you connect Excel 2007 to Microsoft Analysis Services 2005, it will function differently than if you connect it to Microsoft Analysis Services 2000.  Excel 2007 is able to determine what MDX Query Language features are supported by the underlying data source and expose functionality accordingly.

Since Cubing Services supports MDX and ODBO, you can connect Excel 2007 to Cubing Services.  However, only the MDX 1999 variant is supported and Excel 2007 on Cubing Services will function like Excel 2007 on Microsoft Analysis Services 2000.  So far, only SAP BW 7.0 and Microsoft Analysis Services 2005 support the MDX 2005 variant.  I am not sure of IBM’s timeline for supporting MDX 2005.  Also, Cubing Services does not yet support XMLA.  I expect XMLA support to come relatively soon as this is technically easier to develop than ODBO and much easier to develop than MDX 2005 functionality.  If I was a betting man, I would expect IBM to announce XMLA at their next Information OnDemand conference.