I’d like to highlight some MDX history, specifically how it has been adopted by many companies on the server side as an access means to OLAP/multi-dimensional data and has become the de facto query language for OLAP/multi-dimensional servers today. Having had an opportunity to collaborate with many companies over the years, I’ve seen some very interesting trends in MDX support.

Initially, server-side MDX was supported by companies like Microsoft, SAP, SAS and Applix. After which you had a lot of other companies support MDX, such as ALG Software, INEA Corporation and MIS. This was all good. However, for MDX to become a standard, it needed even broader support.

A big turning point for MDX was when Hyperion partnered with Microsoft on MDX and formed the XMLA Council. This was significant because Essbase was (and still is) a major name in the OLAP server market. IBM used to resell Hyperion’s Essbase as DB2 OLAP, and when Essbase added MDX support, IBM customers got it as well. This brought MDX to yet another level in terms of becoming a standard.

By around 2002, when Hyperion shipped a version of Essbase that supported MDX, on the server side, MDX was now supported by pretty much everyone except for Oracle. Without Oracle, there was a big hole, but we were close to broad support. Oracle, of course, is a huge player in the database market.

With all the industry consolidation, a lot has changed. Cognos has acquired Applix. Systems Union acquired MIS, and then Systems Union was acquired by Infor. Oracle acquired Hyperion. Business Objects acquired ALG Software, as well as Cartesis, which had previously acquired INEA Corporation. Also, IBM stopped reselling Essbase a few years ago.

So, we add Oracle (through their Hyperion acquisition), but we lose IBM because they no longer resell Essbase. The interesting news is that IBM is about to ship their DB2 Viper 2 product at the end of October, and what did you expect? IBM supports MDX in the product.

So, where does that leave MDX on the server side? From what I can see today, everyone has it:

  • Microsoft Analysis Services
  • SAP BW (also called SAP NetWeaver BI)
  • Oracle Essbase
  • Business Objects
  • Cognos Applix
  • IBM DB2
  • Infor MIS Alea

There are also a lot of smaller players in the OLAP space, such as Panoratio and Descisys, and they also support MDX on the server side.

Therefore, MDX is the de facto query language standard for OLAP/multi-dimensional servers today.